Teaching Your Mother Tongue to Children While Living in a Foreign Country
Teaching your children their mother language is something every parent aspires to achieve, a feat easier said than done. As parents, it can oftentimes be challenging to maintain a home language when English is so dominant in our lives today, especially while living in a foreign country, such as Canada or the USA. However, at the same time, being bilingual has countless intellectual and social benefits for children, other than just the enhanced communication aspect. According to research, knowing more than one language boosts a child’s critical thinking and problem solving skills, along with increasing their creativity, memory, and concentration. To help your child learn their mother language, and profit from all the benefits that come along with being bilingual, here are a few tips for parents:
1. Speak the mother tongue at home
Speaking your mother tongue at home is the easiest and most effective way to get your children started on their language journey. Children tend to pick up words and vocabulary, and the younger they are, the easier it is for them. Start with simple instructions and action words such as “eat your food”, “wear your clothes” or “turn on the lights.” Slowly, they will be able to transition into more advanced conversational phrases and sentences.
2. Make a routine to teach the language
It can be tough to get young children to concentrate for long periods of time. Therefore, make a simple routine when it comes to teaching the language. For example, incorporate “10 minutes of writing the alphabet” once your children are finished with their homework, or before they go to bed. Learning tools, such as flashcards or simple games, are also very effective when it comes to teaching the basics of any language.
3. Read them stories
Stories are the best way to capture any child’s interest and attention. So, get some books in your mother language and read them to your child daily. Test their comprehension by asking them questions about the story, or what certain words/phrases mean. If they are comfortable with reading, encourage them to practice that skill as well.
4. Teach them rhymes and poems
Find simple rhymes and poems in your mother language, and teach them to your child. It’s a great way to get them to memorize words. You could also discuss what the rhyme or poem means.
5. Watch movies and shows
Watching TV shows and movies is a great way to build fluency in a language. Watching a movie or a show in your mother language with your child is a great way to spend some quality time together, while presenting them with a valuable learning experience. Once the show or movie is over, ask them how much of it they could understand.
When teaching your child any language, whether that is English or your mother tongue, the most important thing to remember is to be patient. All children are different, and learn at different paces, so do not rush them. Make language learning fun and something they look forward to, rather than dread. Just take it one step at a time, and before you know it, your child will be having fluent conversations with you!