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Very shy DS - loves languages but can't cope with idea of foreign exchange

(15 Posts)
rivig Sat 23-Mar-13 23:23:04

Have been racking my brain how to encourage/help him overcome this. Anyone out there had similar experience and able to offer advice?

ll31 Sun 24-Mar-13 08:43:52

How old is he?could you play it that this is a chance to act not being shy,where no one knows him, if he's concerned about shyness himself.... maybe that's silly idea. .
Otherwise, could he start doing language course unconnected with school-build up language, plus meet new people etc on own. .

BertieBotts Sun 24-Mar-13 08:47:01

Yes how old is he? I don't think it's vitally important to do a foreign exchange. Lots of people learn a language but never go to the country it is spoken, e.g. in the case of learning business languages.

FWIW I was horrendously homesick on the French Exchange at 14 but 10 years on I'm about to emigrate - so it's not necessarily the case that he'll be afraid for life. My homesickness didn't really stop until I was 16/17.

whosiwhatsit Sun 24-Mar-13 09:20:45

I would talk to him if I were you and find out if there's anything you could do to make him feel more comfortable. For example, if you told him he could try it for a month and if he hates it he can come home - something like that.

I was too shy to go on an exchange year either when I was in secondary school or University. Then in my twenties I moved to France and lived there for almost a decade. I say, if he knows his own mind and really doesn't want to go then maybe he just isn't ready and that's okay.

lljkk Sun 24-Mar-13 09:21:23

They were saying on radio how many fewer foreign exchanges there are nowadays with hosting families, only staying in hostels or hotels: child protection worries. Would hotel stay be any easier?

rivig Sun 24-Mar-13 20:51:10

Extremely shy. Loves languages though and we have been trying allsorts but not in a pushy way just to try and help. Up until I started work I was extremely shy so I felt I would be a real help - he wasn't so shy until he started junior school now at 14 he is so shy and I really feel for him as I know how difficult it is to overcome. I know *iijkk" and I think it would help a great deal but don't think this is going to happen for him. At least he really wants to try but I so wish it wasn't worrying him - just keep encouraging him then.

fridayfreedom Sun 24-Mar-13 20:53:48

Her used to be involved in a local twinning organisation, could you do this as a family? We made loads of French friends and still keepp in touch

EduCated Mon 25-Mar-13 14:57:56

What about finding a penpal? Arguably more practice at using languages ongoing than a week or so exchange. I was painfully shy until I did an exchange at 14, but I couldn't have done it if my parents had pushed me, it was a decision I had to make when I felt ready. There was an exchange I could have gone on a couple of years earlier, but I could no way have coped with it.

Laquila Mon 25-Mar-13 15:17:34

Ahhh I really feel for him. I loved languages but was too lazy (rather than shy) to do a school exchange - didn't do me any harm and I still ended up with a good degree in two modern languages, so I have to say I don't think it's the be-all and end-all in terms of language learning. Having said that, it can be enormously valuable for some kids, particularly those who struggle to "contextualise" their language learning, IFKWIM. There was an interesting article in the Guardian a year or so back about a mother who basically packed her kid off to France for a few months (or maybe it was even longer) and he came back pretty much fluent, and much more confident/sure of himself (but perhaps he wasn't so shy to begin with).

This is slightly off-topic, but when I was growing up I worked in a local village pub and restaurant, as a waitress and barmaid, and I have to say it was probably the single most important factor in me gaining confidence and the ability to chat to/get on with all sorts of people. I was fairly confident to begin with but I saw it to an even more extreme extent with other girls I worked with, who started off unable to say boo to a goose and ended up sooo much more socially confident. Is this, or anything similar, an option for your son?

And finally, what about considering asking him whether he'd like to go on one of those PGL type trips abroad, where it's perhaps not so scary as he's just in another family's home, with one other (potentially sullen) teenager, but he's basically with plenty of other kids his own age, most of whom would probably be English, but at least he'd be spending time in a foreign country and making steps in the right direction?

jenpetronus Mon 25-Mar-13 15:23:05

Just a thought - my DS is 11, we live in France and his predominant language is French, I'm always on the lookout for ways to improve his written English, would your DS be into a kind of penpal/email exchange, where he could write in French & my DS could write in English? Appreciate he's a good bit younger, but maybe that would help your DS overcome his shyness??

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 23:29:38

When I was a teen, my sister and I exchanged with 2 sisters. It was a bit of a longshot, but my Mum worked with someone who had had a penpal for years, and her nieces wanted to do this sort of "double exchange", so asked Mum's colleague to ask around people she knew...... any way of doing something like that, with a friend / brother / cousin ?

Surely in this day and age, there are websites where you can join in conversations in other languages with people who speak different languages (I'm sure I read of one once, but if there aren't, then there's a business idea for someone wink). With things like Skype, surely teens could chat to other teens anywhere in the world without having to leave thier homes.... get to practice their French/German/Arabic/Mandarin without the worry of being alone in a foreign land.

BackforGood Mon 25-Mar-13 23:30:38

Oh - there you go, I should have read all the posts first.... maybe a French MNer with Skype !

rivig Tue 26-Mar-13 12:38:56

Thank you all. Have been speaking to DS about all replies. Jenpetronus would love to take you up on offer but as you say it's the age difference
excuse reason for his decision not to take you up on offer. Can't find anything on internet for conversations in other languages. Did try your ideas BackforGood but got nowhere. Will look into it all again soon.

EduCated Tue 26-Mar-13 12:43:05

Try posting in Chat or Living Overseas for a more similar aged penpal, those threads always seem to end happily smile

EuroShaggleton Tue 26-Mar-13 12:47:47

I did languages to university level without ever doing an exchange. We did two school language trips abroad and did stay with local families, but in pairs, and tbh we were out doing things all day every day so didn't have a huge amount of contact with the families. There was no return leg to deal with.

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