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Investing in cultural education

Dear Valérie,

My name is Sandra and I am the mother of two elementary school children. While I understand the importance of learning a foreign language and knowing geography, my children are not receiving that type of education at our local public school. I would like to take care of this for them at home on the weekend and I am wondering if you would have any idea on where to start.

My daughter is in 2nd grade and my son in 4th grade.

Thank you!

Sandra

Dear Sandra,

It is true and highly regrettable that our current education system is failing at preparing our children for the 21st century. As a result, we deprive them of the competitive edge they will need to compete globally by the time they will graduate from high school.

I commend you for your awareness in that regard (too many parents in our country still believe that speaking English is enough and that the United States is the world) and your willingness to bridge the gap for your children. For your daughter, I would start by registering her with LittlePassport.com. It’s a company that mails monthly packages to children, educating them one country at a time. They receive a map, stickers and pictures as they follow the adventure of two young characters throughout the world. I did it for my daughter for the two full years of the program and she loved it. As to your son, I would register him with TimeforKids.com, which is Time Magazine for kids. It is full of world news presented to them in a format they can understand and that can get them engaged. I also would register him with Kid World Citizen so he can correspond with a child his age located in the country of his choice. I did that for many years growing up, exchanging weekly letters with a girl from Greece. It was a wonderful experience that got me interested in foreign countries and cultures.

As to foreign languages, there are many opportunities with Saturday schools offering classes in a variety of languages. For example, Vancouver has a great Chinese school I know of. Portland has an Italian school open to kids of all ages. Classes are affordable and taught by native speakers. The same can be found for Spanish, French, German, etc.

Please inquire and get your children immersed in a foreign language. In my opinion, and as someone who circles the globe for a living, I feel that being fluent in at least one foreign language is by far the best investment you can make in the future of a child.

I hope this helps!

Valérie

Do you have a question for Valérie? Email Valerie@vbjusa.com. Please note that the Vancouver Business Journal and Valerie Berset-Price reserve the right to publish your letter or an edited version in all print and electronic media.

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