The year was 2009. My twin boys were going on four, and that meant time to think about kindergarten. I visited Indianapolis’ international school as I wanted them to get foreign language immersion. It all looked good until we started talking about cost. I balked at what would have been minimum $1,000 a month – and that’s assuming very generous financial aid.
Fast forward several months. My parents announced they were moving to Texas, much harder to get to than Ohio. My husband and I looked at each other and realized we could move too – back to China. We had moved back to the US to have our children and be near family. But they knew little Chinese, their father’s native tongue. They needed immersion, for the culture as well. We thought about it and realized moving to China was cheaper than an international school education.
Many American parents are pushing foreign language study for their children, especially Chinese, And many schools are stepping up to meet the demand. But it can be costly or difficult to find. Moving to another country is an option few people consider, but which is very doable and the only way to get true immersion. While things may have been easier in our case than most, there are many opportunities, especially in China.
English teachers are always in demand and most jobs offer some benefits such as accommodation and plane tickets. There are also many other professional jobs on offer. The costs for a family might add up but the cost of living is still reasonable despite rising housing and food prices.
If you can’t completely relocate, consider immersing your kids for a summer in something like a camp.
The choice we made will have a huge impact on our kids’ lives. It could yours too..
Jenny Lin is raising 3 boys in Beijing while working as a writer/editor. You can follow her @twinlins or keep up with her sporadically updated cross-cultural familial adventures at beijingmom.blogspot.com