Did you know that nearly 40 percent of the Singaporean population comprises migrants? As of 2019, the island had about 2.16 million migrants out of its total population of 5.7 million and counting. It’s no surprise then that Singapore has always been a melting pot of cultures and nationalities.
Amidst the cosmopolitan nature of the country, it’s only normal to hold on to your heritage. And nothing you hold dearly can come close to your mother tongue. It’s your most rooted connection to your land and ancestors.
And while the world may be getting smaller every day, your mother tongue is a gentle reminder of your roots and origins.
Unlike you, your children will learn and grow in a completely new world in Singapore with different languages, people and atmosphere. Doesn’t matter if you are an Indian, European, American, or Indonesian living in Singapore, your mother tongue will always remain special to you.
So, it’s only natural that you want to share this with your next generation.
For the locals, Malay, Tamil, Mandarin Chinese, and English are the Singapore mother tongues. But yours could be Hindi, Polish, German, Arabic and/or more.
So while your kids will learn English in school and at home, they can pick up on your mother tongue as well and be bilingual, improving the ability to learn and communicate in more than one language.
To make things simple, we’ve listed five ways you can make your child retain your mother tongue.
5 Ways To Help Your Child Learn Your Mother Tongue
1. Begin the conversation at home
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The simplest way you can teach your child your mother tongue is by beginning the conversation at home. Children learn words and phrases by picking up on the language spoken by parents and other adults at home.
So, while you can keep the regular conversations in English, make sure to emphasise using your mother tongue in front of your baby or toddler.
The power of repetition will help your child acquaint himself with your mother tongue, especially with daily things like foods, furniture, toys, and more.
The more you emphasise the words and converse with your baby in your mother tongue, the faster he will understand the language.
2. Opt for bilingual languages in school
You can opt for a school that teaches bilingual languages to its students. Speak to the school about how you’d like to incorporate your language into your child’s school curriculum.
You also have the option of enrolling your child in private classes that teach different languages. This not only includes the spoken language but also understanding grammar, punctuation, context and more.
If you are serious about your child learning your mother tongue as a second language, look for professional courses with different levels.
3. Read them poems, stories, and rhymes in Singapore mother tongue
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Like English or even the Singapore mother tongue or official language, a language is taught using scriptures. You need to rely on yours to make your child more acquainted with it.
Teach them rhymes and poems at home in your mother tongue. You can also recite bedtime stories. This is also a great bonding exercise as the child will get to know you and your feelings in a raw and unfiltered way.
For children who can read and understand the mother tongue, gift them books in your language to encourage the same. You should also encourage them to make their own stories and recite them to you.
4. Make it fun with games
Kids may not be the most excited when it comes to learning a new language. But you can make this exercise fun by adding few games to it. Try making your own flashcards in your language and go over them before bedtime.
You can also try making a quiz out of this while your children change into bedtime clothes. You should also try it right before their playtime.
Attach an incentive like more TV time or a snack at the end of the quiz and you will have their attention.
5. Interact with more families who speak the same language
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One of the best things about living in a community is finding more people from the same origins as you. You can organise a get together with more families, especially with those who have children the same age as your little munchkin.
This should help your child to interact with other kids in your mother tongue.
This is helpful for children who come from diverse backgrounds and may not exactly fit in with the rest. Finding other kids who have or are going through the same thing acts as a coping mechanism. It also forges stronger friendships in the long run.
It’s also a good idea for the kids to speak to their grandparents and relatives in your language. It will help them understand the importance of your cultures, customs and traditions.
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