So far, moving to Australia has been a good decision for me and my husband. We are enjoying a good quality of life and are doing well in our respective careers. As much as I like living here in the land Down Under, there is a part of me that still misses India. I am a true-blue desi who is extremely proud of Indian culture and heritage. These traditions weave the people of India so wonderfully in our social fabric. It is for these reasons that I want to stay connected to my roots.
If you are an NRI like me, you can understand how difficult it may become to pass these values to the next generation. Our kids are mostly under foreign influence whether at school or with friends. I know a couple of friends who struggle to get their kids to speak in Hindi at home.
Read along and follow these tips to encourage your children so that they speak in Hindi.
It is rightly said that education begins at home. It is a good idea to converse in Hindi right from the beginning. Make Hindi the dominating language in your household. Your kids will build a greater connection with their roots if they speak in their mother tongue at home. The key is to be consistent with this effort so that they inculcate this as a habit.
Dedicate half an hour daily and teach them their native language. There are greater chances of them being proficient in the language if they also learn how to read and write. You can start easy by teaching them alphabets and then move on to more complex concepts like grammar and vocabulary.
Make it fun
Children are more likely to resist if you ask them to memorise words. They may turn repulsive if you force them in this direction. Instead, make it more fun so that they look forward to their daily language classes. You can make your own flashcards and little games around the language. You can read them Hindi stories at bedtime. Teach them songs and rhymes in your mother tongue. You can also download Hindi alphabet art prints and stick them on their walls. This is also a good idea to add some fun elements to their room decor.
Make a social circle
If you look around, you will be surprised by the number of parents who are sailing in the same boat. You can all make a network and take turns in holding small get-togethers for the children. The adults can read them stories, hold movie screenings or play word games with the kids. Our culture is a treasure of mythological stories and it will be unfair to not pass them to our kids. Make it a rule that everyone speaks only in Hindi at these gatherings. This small activity can also help in building a greater sense of community.
Media can play a huge role in accelerating your child’s progress in this regard. Age appropriate TV programmes and music will help them pick up new words. You can also use computer games and apps to make learning more interactive. Playing Hindi music in the background during car rides will also help them in learning more. However, you may want to limit their time spent on gadgets so that they are not spending too much time on the couch.
Travel to your country of origin
Taking your children to your country will help them greatly in building this connection. Their proficiency and confidence in the language will get a boost. It will also help them in absorbing other elements of their culture.
In addition to these do’s there is also a list of don’t’s that you may want to avoid. The idea is to positively encourage them so that they do not start disliking their language. Here is what must be avoided.
Losing patience – Remember that the environment around your child is predominantly foreign. She is more likely to adapt to another language as it is more dominant in her life. Do not lose patience if you see your efforts failing. Your consistency is the key here. Try to make your social circle with similar-minded parents. This can help you vastly in your efforts.
Do not ignore them – A lot of parents ignore their children if they speak to them in a language other than their mother tongue. Avoid this at all costs as you do not want them to associate their native language with disappointment or embarrassment. Even if they do, you can continue answering in Hindi.
In the end, remember that you make this as natural as you can. They are more likely to speak in your native language if they think it is the most natural thing to do.