Parents can greatly influence the approach a child takes to learning a (new) language. If you present language learning as a fun experience instead of a hassle, a game instead of a chore, and also help your child cross hurdles with thoughtful resources, you will find that he will soon want to go even further — beyond his current level of proficiency or maybe even learn another additional language!
Is there a magic formula? We confess there is no silver bullet — no one single approach that will work for every child, and this does not have to do with just the child’s level of ability in language learning. It also depends on his interests, personality and way of learning. A shy child may not like ‘play-acting’ using a new language but may well be open to reading a book in that language. So, it is important to offer a variety of appropriate opportunities for language exposure and interaction.
On Tricky Ground – Support for Second or Third Language Learning (Indian Languages)
In India, children have to learn more than one language from an early age and as parents, we should consider this a blessing. Avoid making disparaging remarks about the language. A child cannot take his learning seriously if the parent’s attitude is condescending or if the parent herself labels the language ‘difficult to learn.’
Monitor your child’s studying of the language. Ensure regular practice to ease the pressure of exams and assessments. This may often mean making sure that he is writing the letters correctly, or doing an essay on his own (rather than copying from the internet or a ‘guide’).
Discourage your child from accessing phone-based language translators as he will be tempted to take short-cuts. Instead, provide him with good dictionaries. Picture dictionaries work very well for young children, who are just gaining familiarity with the script (Scholastic India has an excellent one for Hindi).
You can also help your child learn the correct pronunciation of words. This is both important and challenging as many letters in Indian languages do not have equivalents in English – ‘pha’ ‘zh’ are some examples. Check out the websites we have listed and do play the audio clips on the websites to your child.
RESOURCES for reading and writing
For Hindi, Tamil, Kannada, Marathi, Bengali, Telugu, Malayalam
To understand the basics http://mylanguages.org/index.php
A collection of web resources http://www.word2word.com/course.html