- Play CDs of chants and slokas at home – listening to these will help the child in enunciation, critical in Sanskrit.
- Buy or borrow mythological texts, prayer books and works of literature that have a running English translation along with the Sanskrit text (E.g. The Ramayana, Shakuntalam). Your tween or teen can start reading a few pages of these to build vocabulary and comfort with the language. In fact, if older members of your family are conversant with Sanskrit texts, your child can read with them.
- Ask your child to try listening to the news in Sanskrit, broadcast by Doordarshan every week. Though it is a little difficult for beginners to understand, the topicality of the content will help enhance the fluency of those who are at a reasonably advanced level of learning.
- Encourage your child to participate in sessions organised by Samskruta Bharati at your city for individuals to practise spoken Sanskrit. This may give your child more familiarity with the language.
Gearing Up – Some General Tips:
Involve Yourself: Engage as much as you can in your child’s learning experience. Ask him to teach you the alphabet; young children especially will love this reversal of roles and willingly jump into the fray. Make the effort of learning a few common phrases in the language your child is learning. Engage him in conversation; while flash cards and online vocabulary games can be fun, do remember that language is best learnt in the mode that it is intended for – communication.
Play Games: ‘Name-Place-Animal-Thing’ and ‘I Spy’ are perfect for beginner learners. Pictionary and Hangman (provide clues in addition to giving the number of letters in the word) can be adapted to the language that the child is learning. Aksharit (a Scrabble-like game) is available as a board game and electronically in Hindi, Tamil and Telugu on the Internet.
Sing Songs Together: This is a wonderful way to learn language in context. The process of singing songs repeatedly helps to commit sentences and verb forms to memory. Plus, it gives children who are unsure of their language skills, the opportunity to master words and sentences.
Organise Special Days: Invite all your child’s friends who are learning the language. Make a dish native to the region/land where the language originated from, create a traditional outfit if it is not too much trouble. Find out more about the history and the landscape of the region together. All these exercises can help the child understand the origin of several words, and will serve as catalysts. Insist that all communication for the day be done only in that language.
Provide a Stage: If your child likes to sing, dance or act, have him prepare a short performance: a small skit or song or dance in the language being learnt with side-by-side English dubbing/commentary given by a friend or sibling. This is an entertaining exercise that effectively reinforces what has been learnt.
With all these pointers, we hope you are able to make language learning something to cherish. Urban Indian children are for the most part, multi-lingual – so let us try and nourish these skills in interesting, new ways!