3 Parenting Mistakes When Teaching A New Language

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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. 

Raising World Children Hindi

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. 

3 Mistakes Parents Make In Teaching Kids a New Language www.raisingworldchildren.com #languages #hindi #parenting #teachingkids #multicultural

Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two, living it up in Richmond Virginia in USA. Raised in Kuwait, being Indian by birth she has often felt out of place. A computer engineer by profession, she is now a freelance writer and entrepreneur having founded Raising World Children. In her spare time she volunteers for Circle of Peace International and impromptu dance parties with her little one are her ultimate picker upper. She provides tools to open minded parents to empower their children to raise positive, gracious, global thought leaders. She currently writes for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, RMB and is author in an upcoming Anthology 100+MomsOneJourney as well.

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Author: Aditi Wardhan Singh

Featured on CBS and NBC, Aditi is an authoritative voice on cultural sensitivity and empowerment. Published on various publications like Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Richmond Family Magazine, RichmondMomsBlog, WriterMom, Desh Videsh Magazine etc., this mother of two has also coauthored the best selling book "When You're DONE Expecting". She is the founder of the RWC magazine encouraging other voices like hers to come forth to create unique resources for parents everywhere so children can be global thought leaders. In her spare time, she enjoys choreographing recitals, volunteering and having dance parties with her two charming kids.

7 Replies to “3 Parenting Mistakes When Teaching A New Language

  1. Great article. Glad to learn about Little Linguini which is definitely a great tool for parent immigrants wanting to teach their kids their native language.

    I am of Bengali descent and grew up with English as my first language. I can barely write Bengali. My speaking level is average. How can I teach Bengali to my child if I only have the basic speaking skills?

  2. My husband told me he heard that by the 3rd generation in the USA, most kids no longer speak the language of their grandparents’ native country, and that makes him sad. My husband was born in the USA to immigrant parents and didn’t learn English until he started school. Because English is the language we share, that’s what we speak most, but I know he really wants to have our future kids grow up knowing Spanish as well–and I know we’re going to have to be very intentional about that! Having Spanish books and videos will help–and thankfully it’s a language that there are a lot of good resources for for kids. Also, I think we’ll largely use the strategy of having my husband talk to the babies in Spanish as much as possible!

  3. We want to teach our children Spanish. I am not Hispanic in any way, but they have cousins that are. These cousins speak in Spanish 75% of the time at home and forget sometimes when they talk to us. I do 30 mins a day of Spanish learning (2.5) is the one currently learning and once the cousins are back from Mexico (summer break with dad) they we will go back to skype chats. I want my kids to at least know basics before they enter school and with Spanish becoming more popular to hear, It is a good thing to learn.

  4. It is SO difficult!! Both my husband and I speak Spanish (he, better than I since it’s his first language). Guess who’s teaching our twins Spanish, though? Rosetta Stone. Shameful I know, but these tips help so much.

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