$5,500 for the World’s Best Language Learning

by Corey · 10 comments

We’ve made it! We have arrived in Germany! Let the German language and culture bath begin!

After waiting in the Seattle airport for our flight…

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(My children watch the planes take off and land in the Seattle airport. Germany, here we come!)


And checking last minute email with free wi-fi in the Seattle airport…

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(My husband caught me checking last minute emails in the Seattle airport. I also peeked at the Multilingual Living Facebook page too.)

We flew the friendly skies and arrived in lovely, lovely, lovely northern Germany, home to my husband’s mother, sister, brothers, aunts, uncles and numerous friends.

We sleep in my husband’s childhood home, walk in fields where his family’s dairy cows used to roam and mow the grass in the back yard where he played as a child with his siblings…

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(Here my oldest son helps mow the back yard lawn with his uncle. Being that this is a retired dairy farm, there is A LOT of grass to mow!)


…and we are made happy with the food that Oma prepares for us each day (there is no comparison to real German food!).

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(Oma’s food is the best in the world!)


The best of all is when my kids receive an Überraschungsei  from someone (here they open theirs with their aunt)…

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(There is nothing better than opening an Überraschungsei! Here my kids share the experience with their aunt.)

The Cost of Multilingualism & Multiculturalism

It cost us over $5,000 to get here (airplane flights aren’t the cost that they used to be) but it is worth it.

When families ask me what they should spend their money on so that their children can become bilingual/multilingual, I say: TRAVEL! Visit the country where the language is spoken and submerge yourself and your children in it all: language, culture, food and more.

Many of my friends gasp when I say that we spent $5,500 on airline flights so that we can spend a month with my in-laws in my husband’s hometown. We could put together a nice college fund with those funds!

But that isn’t the point. Maintaining family roots right now is the most important thing in the world for us. It will forever fill my children’s minds and hearts with love, joy and fascination. They will never forget these childhood days with their German family.

Is it is expensive? Yes! We can hardly afford it!

But it is worth every penny (and more)!

Bilingual Families: $5,500 for the Best Language Learning in the World

(Here my daughter and I watch as the boys mow the lawn with their uncle.)


And now we are off to the island of Sylt for a week.

See you next month!

Corey Heller is the founder of Multilingual Living and the Editor-In-Chief/Publisher of Multilingual Living Magazine. Multilingual Living is the place where she shares her knowledge about raising multilingual and multicultural children. Corey, an American, and her German husband live in Seattle where they raise and homeschool their three children, ages 15, 14 and 12, in German and English.

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 S. August 24, 2012 at 4:40 am

Enjoy your time in Germany! How I miss it just reading your post! This post definitely rings true, we spent $3000 in travel just to fly us and our baby to Europe this past summer and she didn’t even require a full ticket yet! (just airport taxes and 10% of our ticket for her to fly in our lap). But even though it’s expensive and will only get more so, it’s worth every penny for the rich experiences we have and the time spent with friends and family.

Schoene Ferien!


2 Andrew August 24, 2012 at 11:11 am

I couldn’t agree more, that $5000 will get more education for your kids than $30000 spent on year’s tuition at a top-tier U.S. university, much more. Some people don’t like hearing that, but it’s true (I will not allow myself to digress into a rant about our greedy and disgraceful for-profit secondary education system).

With regards to what you could best spend the money on for language learning, if you’re going to spend money, I completely agree that traveling to the country where it’s spoken will get you your biggest bang for your buck. This is true at this point primarily because, thanks to technology and the internet, it’s really not necessary to spend any money on anything in order to learn a language (unless maybe it’s a very uncommon language with very few resources or speakers). You would probably be well-advised to buy a couple DVDs and books in the language in question (movies and books you’ll enjoy and can use as material to learn from such as Harry Potter, is what I mean), but that doesn’t amount to any more than maybe $20-$40 really, and even that’s not actually necessary, it just makes it a bit easier and more fun. That’s pretty much all you really need to spend money on, the rest is just time, effort, and commitment on your part. Everything else you need (dictionaries, grammar explanations, basic lessons even) can be found online for free (e.g. WordReference for dictionary/conjugator and LiveMocha for lessons).

If you’re going to spend money on learning a language, spend it on travel, it’s worth every penny. Do not spend it on expensive ‘systems’, they’re totally unnecessary, don’t work that well, and almost all are overpriced rip-offs.



3 maria August 24, 2012 at 8:46 pm

Wonderful to see the pictures and see what fun you are having! Enjoy every minute and soak in all that German. Makes me want to plan a trip asap!


4 Franck August 25, 2012 at 4:08 am

Memories of trips abroad as a family to discover a culture and reinforce a language have no price. These are memories for a lifetime. Enjoy!


5 Ella August 25, 2012 at 6:29 pm

Well said! Luckily we are not at $5000 for our trips to Germany yet since we “only” pay for 2 adults, one alomost 3 year old and one baby but we are getting there. 😉 It is well worth the investment I find, too! We are going to go for Christmas this year and my older boy and me, and I think my American husband, too, can hardly wait to do so.


6 Amy August 27, 2012 at 6:20 pm

I agree 100%! Nothing can replace time spent in a country immersed in the language and culture. Family connections make it all even more meaningful (and help with the expense, since you have someplace to stay)! Enjoy your trip!


7 Corey September 2, 2012 at 4:07 pm

Thank you everyone for your comments! We feel so very grateful that we can be here right now with my husband’s family. We are loving every minute of being here. I just can’t believe how quickly the time flies! We are already half way through our visit and I feel like we just arrived.

Nothing compares to the language/cultural bath that we experience every time we come here. During this visit, everyone has been shocked/excited/pleased/in awe to hear our children chatter away in German (and no one has complained about not understanding my German – who would have thought it!).

The other day the my mother-in-law introduced our kids to the local butcher. When he asked if they could speak German, she told him without hesitation that they speak German completely fluently.

Someone else in the village took my my mother-in-law aside to tell her how impressed she was to hear her grandchildren who live in America speak such perfect German.

All the praise has left me blushing with such pride since I often feel that our linguistic efforts in Seattle fall short in so many ways. I feel so inspired and encouraged by it all and know that it is all worth more than I can even imagine.

The best is noticing how comfortable we feel here, especially our children. They seem absolutely at home here. I think this comes particularly from being with family. There is nothing like the love of family to bring out the best in all of us. But knowing that they can comfortably chat away with Oma, aunts, uncles and cousins makes all the difference!

So if you ever have doubts about whether what you are doing is worth the effort… the answer is YES it really, honestly, truly is!


8 Andrew September 3, 2012 at 4:10 pm

Isn’t it nice when you bust your butt and actually end up getting results beyond what you were even trying for in the first place? I usually overdo it, too, and to me it’s worth it, it’s worth ensuring that I will hit my goal, and it has the nice usual bonus of resulting in going beyond that goal. All that work pays off. You have to be persistently consistent, doing your work every single day and persisting even when it gets boring or difficult, but if you do success is guaranteed (at least in language learning, in my experience). Persistent consistence.



9 ReaP September 14, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Sylt? I read in the “Alles Über die Eisenbahn” book that they built the Hindenburgdamm to link Sylt to the mainland…are you taking the train? : )
Have fun in Germany; we’re going in the winter this year…and traveling is absolutely the best thing about multilingual living!


10 Michal September 23, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I’m really impressed by both your decision to pursue homeschooling with your children and engaging in cultural education at its best. This is bound to reward the kids and you so much as they become more open and broad-minded. I find multilingualism a phenomenal approach to life.


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