This is a sponsored post. All opinions that of the author.
I am Indian. Ideally, Hindi would be my native language. The realization that English was my first language came to light one bright and sunny evening a few years after my kids were born.
At the park, an elderly Indian lady approached us and started making small talk. She asked the standard questions about where in India did I belong, where I worked etc. After a few minutes of watching my son and me, she questioned, “Your son doesn’t speak Hindi?”
When I replied in the negative, she retorted, ” But you stay at home, right ? How is it he hasn’t learned? “
Needless to say, I was livid! It was hurtful and insensitive on so many levels my mind hurt from thinking about it.
A few days later though, it made me introspect. I wondered about the kids I knew who did speak their native language. Comparing all the things parents with native language speaking kids did differently than us. I asked questions. The most important answer that came across was, ” Make them speak Only in that language. ” Easier said than done!
My son would just say No to even the theory of learning. In his head he is American and since none of his friends in preschool or teachers spoke Hindi, he just didn’t feel the need. It has been a couple of years of trial and errors and I am still working on the same. While, the resistance to learning Hindi has finally reduced thanks to friends in school who are bilingual or working on it, we still have a long way to go.
For the longest time, I never understood the base reason of why my son, whose parents are both Indian didn’t just naturally pick up the language ?!
Their main focus however is providing high quality language one on one coaching to eager students who want to learn new languages.
As I went through their blog, it reiterated the need to introduce and make that extra effort to raising multilingual kids. That is when my mistakes and the ways to correct the same came to light!
Not Speaking The Language Consistently At Home
Most of the kids I know who speak their native language have grandparents living with them for long periods of time. Or parents who speak the language at home. At our home, we speak English foremost. My husband and I speak English more often than Hindi. When I started thinking about why, that is when I realized in actuality English is my first language and it is hard for me to remind myself constantly to talk in Hindi.
I needed to first work on myself.
On this suggestion, I stuck post it notes around the upper level to teach the kids easy to learn words with pictures. Also, another friend suggested to stick post it notes around Everywhere to remind you to speak in Hindi or whatever language you want to teach kids.
Not Letting The Kids Struggle
My son doesn’t speak but he understands Hindi completely. We know because he retaliates when we happen to talk in Hindi about doing something he doesn’t like. (Ha! ) But when it comes to conversing, it is hard looking at the kids flounder for the right word to use. Also, time consuming. In the hurry to get on with our day, we would give in and tell them in English what we were saying in Hindi. We wouldn’t stick with it.
I now take the time we in which we do homework to talk to my kids exclusively in Hindi. The instructions I need to give them are familiar and they find it easier to relate and respond.
Not Reading To Them In New Language
Funnily Hindi books are hard to find and harder to read when you do. They are so content heavy that it is hard to get kids to sit still for the reading. Little Linguine drove home the fact that I need to do the same.
I have now made simple, easy to understand short stories with a few English words thrown in to keep them interested.
Learning a new language can be daunting at any age. Together we can work towards creating an interest for new languages, specially respect for our native ones in our children.