Summer Enrichment Ideas - Study a Foreign Language

Summer vacation has begun, and many young people are suddenly free and looking for something to keep them entertained and busy. If you or your kids want to do something educational this summer (besides hiring a WyzAnt tutor, of course!), I have some ideas. Here is the first one of the week:

Study a foreign language!

If you have ever traveled abroad or plan to do so, you will appreciate how useful and fun it can be to speak a foreign language, even at a beginner level. It's like stepping into another person's shoes, trying on a different lifestyle, using parts of your mouth you never knew existed, or tasting a delicious new dish that feels different & amazing in your mouth.

There are many wonderful books, CDs, and websites that can help you study the language of your choice on your own. It can be hard to learn entirely on your own, but there is much you can do to get a headstart before you hire a tutor or go abroad for an immersion experience. Many people ask me about Rosetta Stone, but in my experience, it works for only a small minority of people who like its style. I have had much more luck with the Pimsleur CD series, which is often available at your public library. I did the first 7 units of the Korean short course before leaving the country this summer, and it has been so helpful! I was in a Korean supermarket the other day and bumped into a grocery clerk. I said sorry (in English) and she said, "no, no, I'm fine" in Korean, and I understood her! It was the exact same phrase they taught in Pimsleur. I was ecstatic! Very exciting.

Other resources include the "Practice Makes Perfect" series of books for Spanish. I love these simple grammar/vocabulary books that have answers in the back, and I often recommend them to my students.

Finally, I recommend the wonderful websites and the other language sites designed by the same company (,, etc.). They have videos and audio lessons that are very informative AND fun. I also recommend getting a conversation partner online through a place like Once you've gotten yourself to a level where you can do some things but want to try face-to-face communication, try hiring a WyzAnt tutor. It's a great way to get your questions answered by a professional who knows what they're talking about (someone who's just a native speaker but not a teacher won't always know how to answer your "why" questions!).

Bon chance, buena suerte and good luck!

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