Are we there yet? How to get the family talking

Hands up if your kids have done their homework yet. As usual, tonight 'chez nous', there will be tantrums and a good dose of French verbs for me to conjugate before bedtime.

Surely there's a better way. Learning a language should be fun, according to Tots to France (0870 458 5528;, a holiday company dedicated to keeping families happy. Book one of its delectable properties in the Dordogne and a local French teacher will pop in every day to spend time with your little treasures (or the whole family if you're up for it, too).

The emphasis here is firmly on fun and games (and there's no homework): your 'enseignant' will even take the kids to the local market for a French shopping expedition.

For those in need of a little Italian 'conversazione', I've found the perfect place. Holiday Language (00 39 32 0215 7154; holidaylanguage. com) is a tiny family-run organisation which offers bed, breakfast and Italian lessons in a village on the Gulf of Policastro in southern Italy.

Kids or families can sign up for informal classes involving lots of play and music activities, and you get the afternoons off to soak up the sun and explore the beaches. Extra tuition can be booked and accommodation is at a guesthouse or apartment.

But if you're really serious about getting the family speaking the lingo, visit (0845 625 0465), which will provide you with full-on tuition with a pinch of holiday thrown in. Take the kids on a Home Language course anywhere from Spain to Japan and you'll all be taught how to "think" in your chosen language by the end of your stay.

That's some achievement. You never know: the kids may even be able to do their own homework by the end of their stay.