Three ways for parents to maintain mother tongue for their children

By Thao Nguyen

The greatest propaganda in the world is our mother tongue, that is what we learn as children, and which we learn unconsciously. That shapes our perceptions for life. That is propaganda at its most extreme form.

– Marshal McLuhan

Through this blog, we will introduce three ways  parents can apply to maintain mother tongues for their children, including familial environment, educational support, and the use of media.

1. The familial environment

The familial environment in which mother tongues are promoted, is identified as an important contributor. Indeed, children tend to get motivated to learn language in a supportive environment. 

  • Parental involvement is necessary. When parents insist on children speaking their first language at home, children will develop a foundation for their language learning process.
  • Other family members must be engaged in the environment to strengthen  not only a linguistic network that aims to enhance mother tongues but also the connections within individual families. 

For example, all family members need to make and follow an agreement regarding which languages are used at home. When children use a host country language to respond to other family members, parents will need to be patient and remind them which language should be spoken at home, instead of ignoring that. This situation might happen regularly since children speak and use the host country language most of the day at school. 

Besides, travelling back to home countries if possible gives great chances for children. Several studies have shown that those trips contribute to the connection with their relatives and might endow them with the motivation to accomplish further in their home language. Moreover, making video calls regularly with the children’s relatives who are living in their home countries might be another way to enhance the familial connection and motivate children to learn their mother tongues.

2. Educational support

Vietnamese class for children at BiziVietnam

Evidence regarding educational support to home language has long been well-documented in research, thus, related schooling activities are beneficial to the preservation of these languages. 

In fact, although at school, there are organized mother tongue classes, it is not enough for children due to  time limits and lack of teaching materials. Paid extra classes during the weekend can contribute to the maintenance. They  provide not only an environment for children to practice their home language, but  also a place to help children make friends with those who speak the same language as them.

Furthermore,  competitions whose aim is to assist children to approach their origin are another effective way to preserve mother tongues. Getting rewards from those competitions can increase the motivation of learning mother tongues for children and extend their social networks with their communities.

3. The use of media

Nowadays, the media has certain positive impacts on the maintenance of mother tongues. Means of media include TV programs, broadcasts, online news, printed media such as books, music, movies, Youtube channels regarding mother tongues, cultures, and traditions. Parents can use these resources to increase mother tongue exposure to their children. Everyday, parents can watch something in their mother tongues with their children and then discuss it. Reading books with parents can help children develop their vocabulary. Some children might learn language better by listening to music, thus, parents can play some music when spending time with their children. 

For example, to practice Vietnamese, there are  Youtube channels parents can refer to such as “Vạn Tích” including videos about Vietnamese historical stories or fairy tales, “Vietnam tourism” with videos introducing travel destinations and cuisine in Vietnam. Besides, watching Doreamon is another option for children to develop their speaking language .https://storyweaver.org.in/ is a website in which parents can find different online books for kids in a range of languages with different levels.. 

When children are immersed in a language environment, surely, their level of the language will be developed.  The benefits of media are created by its key characteristic: a collection of pictures and sounds. Several studies emphasize that the amount of information we gain can be increased by watching and listening, thus, media is defined as a productive tool for language learners.

Read more Why it is important to maintain mother tongues for our children? and understand The challenges for immigrant families maintain mother tongues for the children

References:

Bouko, C., Carton, J., Limacher-Riebold, U., O’Malley, M.-P., & Rosenback, R. (n.d.). Practical guide for parents with ready-to-use activities. 128.

Brown, C. L. (2011). Maintaining heritage language: Perspectives of Korean parents. Multicultural Education, 19(1), 31-37.

Nguyen, T. M. P., & Lê, Q. (n.d.). AN INVESTIGATION OF INDIVIDUAL NETWORKS OF LINGUISTIC CONTACT AMONG VIETNAMESE ORIGIN CHILDREN IN AUSTRALIA. 12.

Vallance, A. L. (n.d.). The Importance of Maintaining a Heritage Language while Acquiring the Host Language. 42.

How to maintain Vietnamese for kids in Finland

At BiziVietNam, we  organize Vietnamese language classes every Saturday. Our teachers have high qualifications in teaching languages.  Lessons are developed to be understandable, interactive, and practical. Through class time, there are different activities  helping young children feel motivated to learn Vietnamese. At BiziVietnam,  teaching materials are chosen carefully and adjusted properly to best suit Vietnamese kids  born in Finland.  In addition, we set up different clubs such as art, speaking, and cooking to create a relaxing environment  to support children’s learning. Every month, we provide one special self-learning material in Vietnamese for parents to practice Vietnamese with their children. We have previously organized a competition named “Vietnamese talent kids” to connect Vietnamese families within Finland as well as to motivate children and parents to keep their roots. 

About BiziVietnam
BiziVietnam is the first ever non-profit organisation in Finland dedicated to empowering cultural connections and strengthening the Vietnamese cultural footprint in locals, internationals and Vietnamese people in Finland; along with promoting cooperation opportunities between Finland and Vietnam. Follow us on Social Media for the latest news and upcoming events. 

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