Did you know? UNESCO has encouraged mother tongue instruction in primary education since 1953. It also highlights the advantages of mother tongue education right from the start.
Teaching your child mother tongue shouldn’t be tasking. It is actually really simple. Here are a few guidelines on how to do so.
Step 1. Start early
While they are still developing in the womb, babies can begin to learn your language. Evidence of this is that newborns cry in the same rhythmic patterns and tones as the spoken language around them. You can encourage this by using your mother tongue yourself with your spouse and family. Sing to your unborn baby and read to your baby. From birth, they can absorb a lot of information easily because their brain is developing fast. Use materials in your mother tongue to expose your child to this and as many other languages as possible.
Step 2. Talk in your mother tongue
Children learn to speak by repeating what they hear. It is therefore, not complicated to teach your child mother tongue as kids they, adopt what the people near them are talking. Put your child in an environment where there are a lot of people speaking the language as well. This includes both kids and adults. Listening to the local radio station and watch kids series and cartoons in your native language will help too.
Step 3. Start with single and simple words.
Start with names of items around the house, words commonly used or word describing common actions done at home. Teach her about 30 words then move on to teach her word combinations and sentences. Use lots of pictures, use songs, mimes and play acting.
Step 4. Repetition
Repeating the words and sentences will help kids remember. Having them repeat what they have been taught also builds their confidence in the language. When your children are old enough, you can reward them to make learning more fun and competitive.
Children are different and will hence learn at different paces. Do not rush them. Have a clear plan of how you will teach the language and take it step by step.
Do not talk to her like you would an adult. Be clear and audible with your sentences and words so that she can get them correctly. Be fluent and articulate. Use vocabulary, avoid the baby words and use the whole word instead.
Be broad. Do not limit your talk. Talk about everything that is going on around you. Ask her questions in your mother tongue sing her and teach her old lullabies or singing games. Read to her story books in your native language. Just be creative.
Create the right environment. Once in a while, travel to your parent’s or grandmother’s home and let the kids learn more about their family history and culture. Also consider family gatherings, cultural events and celebrations.
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Hannah Njoki N.
A writer and a mother of a beautiful girl. FB Hannah Njoki