Are you a parent in a multilingual family, worried that your child may lose their native language and cultural identity in the midst of adapting to a new country? As a literacy educator with years of experience working with multilingual families, I understand the challenges that you may face. But don’t worry – there are many ways to encourage and develop your child’s linguistic skills in their everyday life, regardless of your level of fluency in the new language. I’ll share nine simple yet effective ways to help your child maintain their native language while learning a new one. With a little bit of extra effort and commitment, you can help your child become a confident, multilingual speaker!
- Encourage watching educational TV shows or movies in both languages. For example, you can watch a Spanish cartoon one day and an English educational show the next day. If the show has closed captioning you can turn it on to help with reading skills as well.
- Set aside a designated time each day where the family speaks only in the native language. This could be during dinner or a daily check-in time. I’m working on learning French so I have French Fridays which includes only music, and movies in my target language. Make it fun not like more school structure at home.
- Play games that involve using both languages, such as word matching or charades. This makes language learning fun and interactive. Charades is a great one, read the English card prompt and then the players need to guess in the family’s native language.
- Creating a language-rich environment at home, such as labeling objects with both the native language and current country’s language. For instance, label the fridge as “la nevera” in Spanish and “the fridge” in English.
- Read books in both languages. You can choose a book that has both the native language and the current country’s language in it, or read one book in one language and another book in the other language. Or you can read the book in one language and talk about the story and illustrations in the other language.
- Listen to music in both languages. This not only helps with language development but also exposes your child to different cultures.
- Use language learning apps or games. There are plenty of apps and games available that can help your child learn a new language. I love Duo. You can find me here: https://invite.duolingo.com/BDHTZTB5CWWKSIXTA6P6XXEQ4A
- Find language exchange programs in your area or online. This is a great way for your child to practice their language skills with a native speaker.
- Attend cultural events or festivals. This can expose your child to different cultures and languages.
By incorporating these nine simple yet effective strategies into your daily routine, you can help your child develop better linguistic skills in both their native language and the current country’s language. Not only will this help your child communicate better with others, but it will also boost their confidence in their multicultural identity. Remember, it’s never too late to start implementing these strategies, and the benefits will last a lifetime.