It has been several weeks since I last blogged but you’ll understand when I explain that our traveling four-some has been deep in foreign-language country.
Technically we were in north-west Minnesota, at a camp run by Concordia Language Villages, but the immersion of the camp was so deep that we might as well have been abroad. From food to spoken word, we were in another world.
So how was it? It was wonderful. Interestingly, each of us had a different experience. The two girls seemed to thrive because they did what all kids do…they just got out there and spent time with their peers. With no real effort, their language proficiency grew with each passing day. And God bless my dad, after three years of taking a foreign language at his local university, he had no problems whatsoever with the cultural shift. He found the adult group talks about politics, religion, and social issues a very pleasant and invigorating way to test his skills. Getting sick mid-way through the camp didn’t even set him back much. As for me…I felt like I was on a roller coaster ride of exhaustion and breakthroughs the entire time. For a few days, I was fine and then, suddenly, I was unable to think or speak. Our camp administrator said this was a perfectly normal adult reaction to full language immersion. In other words, “Don’t give up, Love.” Sure enough, about every three days, I hit a wall and then, after a good night sleep, was able to translate words in my head and speak them with relative ease.
If you’re not familiar with Concordia Language Villages, here’s the scoop: Concordia is the premiere language and cultural immersion program in the United States. For 50 years they have helped learners develop a deeper appreciation and skill base for going out into the non-English-speaking cultures of the world. Concordia offers courses in 15 different languages and uses skits, songs, meals, games, activities, class sessions and general conversation as their teaching methods. From the minute you check into a camp, you feel as though you have left the United States and entered into the country whose language you wish to learn. There are programs for youths, adults, and families, and classes are available year round.
Remarkably, few people have heard of Concordia. Case in point, while we were staying in Detroit Lakes we mentioned to people that we were on our way to a foreign immersion camp nearby. No one we spoke with knew there was a clutch of foreign language schools just a few hours away! Such a pity.
If you’re interested in a foreign language immersion experience that isn’t in the Gaeltacht (the Irish-speaking region of Ireland), perhaps Concordia Language Villages is the place for you. We certainly enjoyed it.
And, speaking of things this Irish family enjoys…today I am passing along this easy-to-make recipe for mini-meringues. They keep well for weeks in an airtight container or ziplock bag and are a great snack in the kid’s lunch boxes or for when you want a little something sweet with a cuppa. They even make an adorable pudding (dessert) when served sandwich-style with a dollop of cream, caramel or jam between two of them. Mmmmhhh….wish we’d brought some along for this road trip. Enjoy!
2 egg whites, room temperature
½ cup/4oz/100g caster sugar (granulated sugar)
1. Preheat oven to 225°F/110°C. Line two baking sheets with greaseproof paper (parchment paper).
2. In a spotlessly clean bowl, whisk the egg whites and sugar with an electric mixer until it forms stiff peaks. (You know you’ve whipped it enough when the mixture holds a stiff a peak that looks like shaving foam.)
3. Using two teaspoons, spoon 24 little blobs on the greaseproof paper. Bake for 40 minutes or until crisp. Turn the oven off and leave the meringues in the oven for another 5 minutes, if you like your meringues crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, or 20 minutes, if you like them crispy inside and out.
4. When completely cool, put in an airtight container. Meringues will keep for weeks.
- 13 Reasons To Learn A Foreign Language (languageboat.com)
- A Look at the Deficiency in Foreign Language Skills Among Irish Students (rte.ie)