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Teaching your native language to your child

Contributed by: Priyamvada Lolla

Most parents living abroad find it difficult to make their children speak or understand their mother tongue. We fail to understand why our children are so comfortable speaking the foreign language and refuse to enjoy native languages. When the children cannot speak the native language they may face difficulties communicating with some of the relatives who are not good at speaking English. And also most of the people back India are not comfortable with American accent and even though they can speak good English, they will find it difficult to follow the children because of their accents.

The main reason for this problem is lack of exposure to the native language. In the foreign land our language becomes the minority language. As there are not many people who speak this language, children do not enjoy talking in our mother tongue. But as parents, we must not give up. We need to put every effort to teach the children mother tongue to keep them connected to their place of origin. This will help them to not feel isolated when they visit their native country.

How to start?

As parents, it is important that we speak to them in our native language at home. We donít realize that even we have switched to speaking English at home most of the times. We should pay attention when we are speaking at home. At the same time we need to make sure, they understand English as well. We must consciously train them to be fluent in both the languages.

We should take care of this especially when we are speaking to our children. Even if the child replies in English, you should repeat the same in your language so that the child picks words in the new language. Unless the child is comfortable, we must not force him/her to speak in our language in public. Have patience. Children will take some time to pick up the language. And since they are in the process of getting adjusted in the school, they will naturally reject speaking in the native language which is the minority language for them.

Impart native language in every possible way:

Try to make your language enjoyable to the children. Sing songs and rhymes from your native language. Teach them cultural dances from your land. Tell them all those interesting stories that you have heard while growing up. Talk to them in your language in every part of life whether it is picking up groceries or while doing chores at home. Be consistent with your efforts. Donít switch from one language to other frequently. This will confuse the kid. Be creative and make it enjoyable. And kids will start speaking in your native language eventually.


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