How to Encourage Children to Use Their Mother Tongue

Parent child interaction intervention - Starlight Psychology
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Many young children in Singapore often use English as their main language. Over the years, we notice that an increasing number of children, or even young adults, don’t have a good grasp of their mother tongue. 

Being effectively bilingual has many perks, including fostering stronger relationships with the elderly in the family and more career prospects in the future. Studies have also shown that being able to speak mother tongue fluently has a positive effect on a child’s upbringing. 

If you are having trouble getting your child to appreciate or improve on his mother tongue, here are some tips for you! 

  1. Speak in mother tongue 
How to Teach Mother Tongue to Children & Its Importance
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Try to plan one or two days of the week to be ‘Mother Tongue Day’. Everyone in the family can speak only mother tongue for the entire day. You can include mini punishments if anyone fails to do so. Another method is to get both parents to speak in different languages (one English and the other, mother tongue) so that your child has no choice but to practise both to be able to communicate with both of you. 

  1. Place labels around the house 
Children are not defined by their labels - Sue DeCaro
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Search up for words or phrases in mother tongue, write them on sticky notes and place them around the house! You can do this anywhere from cabinets to kitchenware to the television or books. Just don’t stick it on your child! 

  1. Have a karaoke session at home 
9 Best Kids Karaoke Machines 2021 - Karaoke Systems for Kids
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Karaoke lounges are closed due to the pandemic, but you can always have a simple session at home! Play classic songs in mother tongue and sing along with your child. What better way to learn another language than to have fun singing and understanding the lyrics behind the song? 

  1. Watch movies
Joyful Asian Family with Kids Watching Film on TV by stusya | VideoHive
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If your child doesn’t like to sing and dance, fret not. Choose a mother tongue movie that he would most likely be interested in, with English subtitles. This would help him be fluent in both languages concurrently! 

  1. Praise and encourage 

Learning the language might be easy, but mastering it is difficult. Don’t forget to shower your child with praise and encouragement so that he will keep going and not lose motivation! Even a slight improvement deserves praise. If he’s struggling, try not to scold him. Instead, find out what he’s having problems with and lend him a helping hand.  

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