One of the first things I’m very concerned about is to make sure that my son is getting all the stimulation I can give him in my mother tongue, so that he learns it as best as possible. Here is a list of my tricks to keep stimulating his learning:
- he receives every month in the post a magazine for small children in my language. We can read it together and he loves it. The content is very focused on pedagogy, but still it manages to captivate the child’s attention: a lot of pictures, drawings, things to cut and glue, nursery rhymes to sing. You can also order puppets and other small toys related to the characters of the stories, etc…
- I buy children books in my language every time I can. My boy is now a very attentive reader. When he’s in the mood for a bit of reading, he brings me the book he wants us to read together. We have picture books with animals, things babies do, etc… and also stories, fairytales. Reading is a part of our evening routine before he goes to bed.
- We listen to music and sing together. I’ve bought CDs with nursery rhymes and children songs in my language. We listen to them every now and then and sing together. We also sing in the car, or when we walk back home from the kindergarten. We sing when he’s taking his bath (songs related to water, of course;-)) or when we cook. He loves singing and has his own sign to show us when he wants to sing. And of course, we sing in bed before he sleeps. Lately he’s been very unhappy when I was leaving him at the kindergarten in the morning, so I started singing a little rhyme with him before going away.
- I’m not too keen on little children watching TV, but cartoons are definitely a good medium for children to learn vocabulary and expressions. After one month at my parents’, our little boy could already say the name of the children’s program on TV… although he was watching very briefly and not every day.
- Meeting other people and other children with the same mother tongue is of course a great way to stimulate language acquisition, but it’s not always easy. In some towns, parents with the same mother tongue have created playgroups for their children.
- Finally, talking to your child as much as possible is of course the best, the cheapest and the easiest way to stimulate his language learning: when I’m with my son, I tend to describe him everything we see, whether we’re on foot or in the car or on the bus. Putting words on things is a very important process for a child. When I cook or do the housework, I tell him what I’m doing. I also describe him the activities of the day, so that he knows what’s going to happen, etc…