Author: Bri Rodriguez-Cancio
[NOTE: Be sure to also check out "Museums Flex Their Multilingual, Multicultural Muscles" an article by The New York Times 3/16/15 published after this post.]
There is no denying it, we are squarely in Winter. There are times for unbridled outdoor play and there are times to explore the nearest city and its cultural offerings. Consider a visit to the local or the major museum in your area...in Spanish or Mandarin!
For more proficient language learners
Option A: Many museums have pre-recorded audio tours in several languages, such as Spanish, Mandarin, and others.
Option B: Check out podcasts. Our family once used one for the grown-ups during a one-hour tour of The Louvre. (Thank you, Rick Steves!)
Some museums may even have docent-led tours in these languages. One such example is The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The tours are monthly, but it can be scheduled as a family trip. (Click the image above for free kids' guides from the Met!)
Family Museum Tour Idea
Another interesting option is to find/hire an art teacher to customize or highlight a particular museum's offerings for your family. Look around: any friends with art degrees, or any "target language" teachers with an interest in art? One such company is Art Smart, a NYC-based provider of museum & gallery tours for families and groups. (I did not look into their pricing, but this idea definitively "has legs.")
No matter who the "leader" is, I would humbly advise a "highlights" type tour, perhaps 6-10 pieces, to review and discuss, depending on the age and interest level. (See if you can find any fun worksheets online, in English or another language, ahead of time, to whet the children's artistic appetite.) Talk to the art "leader" to see if a scavenger hunt for clues can be done, to keep up the kids' interest level, in small, quiet groups.