Teaching mother tongue to children in a foreign country

Every parent desires that their children become fluent in their mother tongue. However, it can be a challenging feat to achieve, especially for those of you living in a foreign country, when English is so dominant in our lives, and given the influence of the language on the kids.


But the larger picture has to be considered. In addition to enhancing the communication aspect, being bilingual has innumerable intellectual and social advantages for children. Learning more than one language is very important for the overall development of children. It improves their brain function and helps in multi-tasking. As per the latest research, by being bilingual, not only is their creativity, memory, and concentration increased, but their critical thinking and problem-solving skills are also boosted. They become good decision-makers. The aging process is also slowed down.


Here are a few tips for parents staying in foreign countries, to help their children learn their mother tongue and enjoy all the benefits of being bilingual: 


Speak the mother tongue at home


For children, learning always starts at home. So speaking your mother tongue at home is the most simple and the most effective way to teach the language. 


Speaking to children in their native language helps them pick up the words and vocabulary and use them. You can start with simple instructions and action words such as "wear your clothes", "eat your food", "switch on the light" or "open the door". Teach them basics like greeting others, asking for help, requesting, and thanking someone. Gradually you can move to more advanced conversational phrases and sentences.


When they constantly listen to the language at home and get exposed to the vocabulary, they tend to learn quickly. 


Make a routine to teach the language


It is not easy for young children to concentrate for long periods. So, it is better to have a simple routine to teach the language. For example, once your children are finished with their homework, you can make them write alphabets for a short period of 10 minutes. After they learn all the alphabets, you can proceed to teach them how to form words and sentences, and make them write simple words like their name, some objects or toys they like, etc. 


Read stories in mother tongue


Children are very fond of stories and stories are the best way to capture any child's interest and attention. They can be taught anything pretty easily using stories. When a story is narrated to them, they focus and understand better. 


Therefore, getting some books of your native language with illustrations, and reading them to your child daily will help them catch new words and sentences, and incorporate them when they speak. You can test their comprehension by asking them questions about the story, or what certain words or phrases mean. You can encourage them to practice the skill of reading if they are comfortable with it.


Encourage and correct their mistakes then and there


When children try learning a new language, they lack confidence and are a bit hesitant to use it. Therefore, encouraging them to speak and helping them with the vocabulary will boost their confidence levels. You can gently correct them the moment they make mistakes or use wrong words while speaking so that they don't forget. For their comfort, you can use the language they understand well (like English) as a medium to teach new words and their meanings so that they can correlate both languages easily. 


Use tools or aids to support learning


Basics of any language can be taught effectively using learning tools such as flashcards or simple games. Word games can be played to teach kids new words. Some of the fun ways to teach languages are crossword puzzles, word jumble, and pictionary. Kids can be asked to identify the letters, form sentences using specific words, or give an impromptu speech on their favorite topic.


Teach them rhymes and poems


You can teach your children simple rhymes and poems in your mother tongue. It will effectively help them to memorize words. You should also explain the meaning of the rhyme or poem to them.


Watch movies and shows


By watching TV shows and movies in your native language, children will be able to build fluency in the language and improve vocabulary. This could be a great way to spend some quality time with your child while offering them a valuable learning experience. After the movie ends, you can ask your children how much of it they could understand.


Calls with family and friends


Involve your children in calls at home. When they get the opportunity to build relationships with their parents, siblings, or cousins, it will motivate them to learn.


One thing that you must keep in mind while teaching any language to your children is to be patient. Each child is unique and has their own pace of learning. So you must not rush them. Language learning should be fun and make it something the children look forward to, rather than dread. Proceed step-by-step and at the end of it, you will be amazed by the way your child will be having fluent conversations with you.


Akshharam Online Malayalam learning school conducts online Malayalam classes for children of the age group of 5 years onwards. We fulfill your wish of making your children experts in your mother tongue.