Pin It
Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Reinforcing the Minority Language

By

Early on, I read quite a bit about language acquisition and discovered that children need interactive language exposure in order to learn a language. This means that sitting your child in front of the television to watch minority language (ml) programs alone will not teach them that language. Your child needs to be highly motivated to actually use the language in order to learn it, which is only possible if they are brought into contact with people who speak it and who they want or need to communicate with. Therefore, while ml television, music, toys etc. are all helpful aids to raising a bilingual child, they are not very useful in isolation.

Active ml options can be:

Playgoups
Childcare
Tutors
Schooling
Visits to ml country

Passive ml options can be:

Songs/Radio/Storytapes
TV/DVDs
Books
Interactive toys
Websites

As a non-native speaker, I tried to use lots of both. My particular challenges are poor accent, grammatical errors and vocabulary gaps/errors. To help Schmoo’s pronunciation, I showed her French DVDs, which I get second-hand from French eBay or French Amazon, and I played her lots of French music, such as the fabulous ‘Baby’s First Steps in…French,’ which she loved and ‘French Playground,’ which is very jazzy and gets played a lot en route to school. I’ve recently been informed by her French Club teacher that her accent is excellent, so it must all be helping!

For French books, we found a huge range is at the French Institute Children’s Library in South Kensington – well worth the trip now and then! The best interactive toy was a French LeapPad, as Schmoo loved this and the French is clear and in context. I also paid a French student to play in French with her for one 2-hour session each week, which I think was the icing on the cake because Schmoo could see that I am not the only person to speak this funny language! I have been quite lazy about working on my own French, but I do try to read the odd book in French and watch French films from time to time.

When Schmoo was about 2, I helped set up a French playgroup via an ad at the French Institute, where I could meet up and speak French with other mums, while Schmoo got to be surrounded by French chit-chat. We kept up with the playgroup and our French tutor for about 6 months until we moved to London so she could attend a French school. Ah yes, the joys of applying to a French school when you are not French and/or didn’t put your child’s name down from birth! After applying to every French primary school in London, and receiving one heartbreaking rejection after another, in spring 2007 we finally got that precious acceptance letter from a wonderful bilingual school in Fulham, which feeds directly into the French Lycee (secondary school). As a non-native speaker, I was extremely happy that she would now have the support of schooling in the language, as it took the pressure off my faulty French!

© 2010 – 2013, Omma Velada. All rights reserved.

More Great Stuff You'll Love:


All I Want for Christmas is Perfectly Bilingual Children

Why OPOL has been harder than we thought.

Overheard on the Beijing Subway When People Don't Think I Speak Mandarin

The awesome stuff I overhear like what these two Chinese women think of foreigners.

A Different World: No Longer Brown in White America

Is it racist to not want to raise your kids in white America?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Omma and her husband are raising their two children, Schmoo and Pan-Pan, trilingually in the UK with English (native), Twi (late start) and French (non-native). She blogs on raising trilingual children at bilingualbabes.blogspot.co.uk

Leave us a comment!









Notify me of follow-up comments via e-mail.
Or leave your email address and click here to receive email notifications of new comments without leaving a comment yourself.

Get weekly updates right in your inbox so you don't miss out!



A Children's Book for Raising Global Citizens

Every life is a story. It’s easier to understand someone when you know their story.

Why I Travel 13 Hours Alone with My Kids Every Chance I Get

Travelling with children, while definitely more of a mission, contradicts the old saying that “life is about the journey, not the destination.”

A Diverse Book for Preschoolers in Celebration of Multicultural Children's Book Day

A book that honestly and simply celebrates the every day diversity that children experience.

Why My African Feminist Mother Gave Me the Identity of My Father's Tribe

She gave me an identity so different from her own.

2 Children’s Books about Jamaica

Explore Jamaica with your child.

Costa Rica with Kids: Two Weeks of Family Travel

Two weeks of Pura Vida in a country with so much to offer families.

Should I Worry about My Child's Accent in Her Foreign Language?

See why Dr. Gupta takes offense to this question and where children learn accents from

How to raise trilingual kids when exposure to Dad's language is limited

My kids only get 1-2 hours of the minority language per day-help!
[…] Peru, 97 percent of newborns are breastfed, according to LLLI. In Culture Parent reported that 69 percent of Peruvian children are breastfed exclusively from birth to five months, and ou...
From Breastfeeding Around the World
Hi I was googling Islamic beliefs when I came across your post. We are American and our neighbors are from Pakistan I think. Our kids love playing together but their dad doesn't allow the kids to co...
From An Islamic Perspective on Child-Rearing and Discipline
Mother’s Day is the most perfect and accurate Occasion to express your Love and Gratitude towards Mothe...
From Holi Craft: Straw Painting
[…] Muslims fast for 30 days every year for Ramadan, which is one of the five pillars of Islam. Ramadan this year is happening during most of the month […...
From Ramadan: June 28-July 28
[…] Raising a Little Buddha – Part 1, InCulture Parent — Post by a Buddhist Minister about raising an enlightened child.  It starts with intimacy, communication, and community. [R...
From How to Raise an Enlightened Child — Part I
[…] Breastfeeding in Jordan, InCulture Parent — Not as restrictive as one might think. […...
From Breastfeeding in Jordan
[…] Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother, InCulture Parent – “The 2010 Mothers’ Index rates 160 countries (43 developed nations and 117 in the developing world) in terms of th...
From Best and Worst Countries to be a Mother
[…] Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids, InCultureParent — Interesting look at how our values impact our interactions with our children (babies in particular). […...
From Why Americans Value Independent and Competitive Kids
[…] Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon, InCulture Parent — a fascinating look at cultures in the Amazon where pregnant women have sex with more than one man as a means...
From Multiple Fathers and Healthier Children in the Amazon

More Raising Bilingual Children