As an expat residing in a different country, we are exposed to different cultures and languages. While you get to explore so many new things, one drawback of living away from your own country is limited contact with your own culture and language. In this post, you will find some tips for expat parents.
We are originally from India. And as per the education system there, a child is familiar with at least two languages by the time they are 5 years of age. This usually includes their mother tongue and English. When we moved to Australia three years back, our daughter who was only 18 months at that time, could speak a few words in our mother tongue Hindi. However, once she started daycare, she was exposed to only English and quickly picked it up as her first language.
Few months back when we were looking for schools for our daughter, the Principal asked us about the language we can speak. We told her that English is her first language, but she can understand Hindi. The experienced educator explained to us that how it is beneficial for kids to know more than one language. It enhances their brain function and overall development. We decided to start teaching her more of our mother tongue and it has been going great so far.
In this post, I am sharing some tips that parents living overseas. I am sure they can find it useful to teach their children their native language.
Start with the basics: We started with the simple things – Alphabet, numbers, colours: This is the easiest way to start. We started with a number count from 1 to 5. Now we have graduated to 20.
Communicate in native language: Make it a point to speak to your child in your native language and ask them to respond in the same language. Once they are out of the house, they will speak English (or your current country’s language), so the time they are at home, it should be used as an opportunity for speaking in your mother tongue.
Make it a fun activity: If it sounds like games and fun, chances are the kids will be more interested in doing it. A classroom set up wouldn’t be successful in this case.
Change the screen time language: If your kid has a screen time, try to put shows or cartoons in your language. Kids pick up fast from what they are watching. So scan some channels for good quality content for them to watch. We watch a lot of Peppa Pig in Hindi.
Include it in daily routine: We do most of our learning during bath time and bedtime. So every day before bed, we sing a few Hindi rhymes or songs.
Encouragement and appreciation: We all need that! Every time our daughter speaks a Hindi sentence on her own, we say ‘Wow! You are so good at this’ and then she speaks some more 😊 It’s important to keep motivating them.
At the end of the day, we need to understand that they may not get perfect at it. But if they are trying to learn it and use it, we are doing good!! If you have any more tips, so share them with us in the comments below. I am sure your tips for expat parents will be helpful too.