Creative Language Financing

If you haven’t already discovered, paying for language classes can be expensive! When I decided I would teach my son Chinese, I knew going into it that I would likely spend as much money on his language learning as I did on my mortgage. But, even with a realistic budget in mind, shelling out money each month for every class or tutoring session can be a hard pill to swallow. That’s why being creative in how you fund your child’s language learning is key!

At first, I took on second and third jobs to pay for everything, but the more I thought about it, the more I knew I had to find a better way to save money.

Usher in birthdays and Christmas…

My son had enough toys, so I didn’t need (or want) a large inundation of even more toys after his birthday or the holidays. So, I decided to ask for money instead! If you think about the amount of money spent buying gifts, that money can be better spent in other ways – that last well beyond the birthday party.Second Birthday

I tried it out for my son’s first birthday, and to my surprise, we received over $1,000 in “language donations.” This was enough money to pay for Mommy & Me Chinese classes, twice a week for nine months AND I still had money leftover to hire a Chinese babysitter to play with him and speak to him in Chinese twice a week for three months.

Now, with my son’s dad on board, we did it again for his second Christmas. We bought my son a few small items but asked friends and family to donate to his “language fund.” That time around we received $850. It wasn’t enough to pay for what I had planned for him for the next year, but I invested the money in a few stocks, and two years later it was enough to pay for us to go to Concordia Language Villages for a full week of their Chinese Family Immersion program in Minnesota!

For my son’s second and fourth birthdays I gave those attending the option to buy educational items as a gift or to donate to his college fund. Surprisingly, we received, even more, money those times $1,250 and $1,540 respectively.

I asked a friend why she chose to just give money than to buy a gift, since we did ask for books and puzzles. And, her response was very enlightening. For her, it was easier to just put $20 in a card and not have to figure out what toy to buy him, hoping he didn’t already have it at home.

So, you see, you may actually be making things a bit easier for your guests! It does help though to allow your guests to provide money in an anonymous way – you don’t want someone feeling judged if they can only give $5 or $10.

Fourth Birthday Party

Each year, my son and I create a papier mache box where people can drop cards in with their name (if they choose) or just put the money in by itself.

Throughout the year, I send out an email to everyone who attended the party (whether they gave money or not) and let them know how Cavanaugh’s Chinese (and Arabic) is progressing. I’ve found that this is a great way to reinforce your appreciation for their monetary help and to let them see firsthand how powerful even $10 can be in helping change a child’s life.

The bottom line is…you never know what you can get if you don’t ask. This is not to say that you should beg your family and friends for money, but raising a bilingual child is a group effort!

And, if you have not tried out Digit – then download the free app and start saving little by little. You’d be surprised how much you can save without even knowing it. I’ve had the app for almost six months and have saved enough to pay for a three weeks of a language immersion camp this summer!

What are some creative ways you have been able to pay for language classes? We’d love to share notes and help each other along this language learning journey 🙂

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