One day - One language

How to increase a minority language exposureIt is inevitable that in any multi-lingual family setting one or more languages get more time and focus than the others. Naturally one of the parents or any other adult speaking minority language just gets to spend more time with the kids. Whether a stay at home parent, caregiver or maybe the one that spends a long morning commute with the child. Or there is more relatives around speaking the language. Or simply the adult responsible for passing on the minority language is just not as comfortable with it, gets limited time, cannot naturally hold conversation with a young child or simply gets frustrated to be in it alone. 

As the time progresses and LingoPapa works hard away from home to support us, he gets limited time to speak and actively teach children Urdu. It a language that needs more attention in our household. Not only we get the least exposure to it but it also needs more attention due to its Persian script and bad habit of using &qu…

Church and white slippers - how a 4 year old decodes his languages

What does a church and a pair of white slippers have in common?
Hmmm, let me see...
I did not know that they do but they actually do :)

Today Little Lingo while riding his bike asked - 'Mami??? What is a chapel?'
We just walked past the Salvation Army building so I turned to him and said: "Well, in English chapel is a part of a church building... and in Urdu "chapl"چپل means a slipper".

Little Lingo seemed satisfied with the answer and cycled on. After a while he rode back to me and said:'So mami, it means that I was born in White Slipper?' ( He actually said it in his 3rd language which is Czech - "Bílý pantofel")

And I had to agree; 'Yes indeed, Little Lingo, you were born in White Slipper/ Bílý Pantofel...yes, because you were born in Whitechapel hospital in East London.'

And this is actually only one example. I have noticed that our children that we try to raise with more languages actually show the ability to dissect the sounds…

Dip in & keep it fresh - siblings' language strategy

Very often siblings end up speaking with each other in the majority language. We have had that issue too. And yes it may come back in the future but at the moment our children don't speak in majority language together. Yay! ( Albeit might be temporary.)

In previous post I described how we managed to set one of the minority languages spoken (Czech) in our home as a language of communication between our children. Well, now we work on the second minority language spoken at home to become a more spoken language between them. Ideally, when LingoPapa is at home, they should be able to switch from mother minority language to father minority language. 

So what helped us at this stage? LittleLingo (4 years) went to Pakistan for nearly 2 weeks just with LingoPapa ( Urdu speaker). Luckily family situation back in the fatherland required LingoPapa's presence and he and the kid could travel.  While there -  no English was allowed and LittleLingo spent all time with the family. To my almost…

Majority language mistakes - don't teach, educate!

We do not speak with our children in the majority language but this does not mean we do not educate them about correct use and grammar of the majority language.

They say that to achieve multilingualism you do not teach your child the minority language as such. You just need to make sure the kid has enough exposure to the language.
But with majority language if I do provide the exposure  (or your situation does it itself) and child is not picking exactly the right influences, I do think that it is my place to educate our kids about the correct way of using the majority language.

When I hear my child using really bad grammar in the majority language ( English in our case), I do step in and correct the child.

And this is how we do it:

The instruction or explanation of the mistake and correct use is done as far as reasonably possiblein the minority language and the correct phrase is presented in the majority language. ( e.g English).  Example of this:
LittleLingo:Yesterday I goed to the s…

FUN TIP:Shop & Learn "Shopping List Trick"

When more than one language is spoken at home, it can be challenging to create as much exposure as possible to your minority languages.  Sometimes even the facilitating adult may feel that it is a real chore or maybe they are not made for all this teaching.

Here is one of our little FUN TIPs on how to make it fun and part of your routine. LingoPapa and LingoKids love to go food shopping together. ( Seriously, they are definitely NOT taking after me!!!)
LingoPapa came up with a lovely ritual that engages the kids to learn new vocab, revise and also get exposure to the script of their second minority language. I actually noticed that LingoPapa really enjoys it (I did not know how good he is at drawing till now!)  and children love doing it. 
And it is really simple - they put together a shopping list.Using pictures and the desired language - Urdu (اُردُو) in this case.

It is fun to come up with the simple drawing and have children come up with the items.
Extra bonus is that children get …

Siblings' language: The fight with the killer language continues...

Just to recap - in our family we speak THREE languages on daily basis. LingoPapa speaks Urdu with kids, LingoMama in Czech and language of the community is English. ( Parents also speak mostly English with each other).

We have successfully established communication channels with the children in the desired languages. This means kiddos only speak to me in my minority language and different minority language with their father.

But what started to happen as the children grow ....killer language crept in!!! We noticed that when out of earshot, LittleLingo (4 years old at the time of writing) speaks to his little brother in English (majority language). Sometimes, we had a bizarre feeling when we heard two two "English" kids playing in the living room. I mean who are these people? Right.

As we live in English speaking country, LingoPapa and I concurred that we might want to encourage minority languages at home. The reasons for this are:

1) We would like the kids to learn as much of …

TRIP TIP - Nordic Design Exhibition - LONDON,UK

LingoLiving recommends
Discover a new language through design. If you are in London, get your kids to discover Scandinavia not just in IKEA.

V&A Museum Of Childhood is currently holding  Nordic design exhibition. This has been a fantastic way for our children to explore that "funny" shape on the map of Europe and what comes from there.

You may even try to learn few words in Swedish, Norwegian, Finish or Danish yourself There is amazing play area, small cinema room showing Pippi LongstockingMoonins and other Nordic cartoons. Great way to discover a language!

 Apart from amazing design there are books on display - in original languages - great  prompts to start conversation about languages.

We had a great fun. And if nothing we will now try to find all the Scandi and Nordic authors in our library - Astrid Lindgren, Hans Christian Andersen, Tove Jansson,Soren Olsson...

Sport a new language

Many people want to introduce their children to another language. You can of course pass on a language that you already speak and you can also start to learn a language with your child. I would like to share how we managed to get our 4 year old interested in Japanese language.

In actual fact, it was LittleLingo who initiated this Japanese adventure. He became fascinated with Ninja Turtles after I showed him some 80s cartoons dubbed into Czech. The fascination with karate grew and the questions started to flow...
I went to Japan myself many many years ago and I was lucky to explore the country with a friend that lived in Japan at the time and spoke Japanese. So I was delighted by LittleLingo's interest. Apart form odd vocab and ability to recognise the script, I am in noway a person that could teach Japanese to our child.  

We found a karate club that was teaching karate in Japanese. Bingo! LittleLingo now attends once to twice a week. It is bizarre how quick children absorb langua…

AMBUSH! A language acquisition anecdote

All children do this! Multilingual or not. It keeps us entertained...and it also turns us into detectives. It can be a totally new level in a multilingual family...yes, I am talking about made up words or first words that sound very unique.

I would like to share our recent experience that really baffled us. MiniLingo is just 2 years old. He has vocab in 3 languages and forms a maximum 2 words "sentences. ( Post of speech delay in multilingual kids coming soon.)

We spend lots of time in the nature and MiniLingo is obsessed about animals. We love greenery even though we are currently an urban dwelling family. Recently on every occasion when we drove into countryside, our train carriage approached a forest or we came to a farm, MiniLingo got all prepared, stands straight and shouts: "Ambush, ambush!"

When he did it first time, LingoPapa was convinced that our second born must be carrying some kind of SSG gene and it automatically kicks in to warn us about possible danger.…

Child refuses to speak in minority/native language

I often hear that child refuses to speak minority or parent's/grandparent's native language in public (more on this later).  However, I also came across instances when the child refuses to speak the minority language altogether.

I get many people praising how our oldest is capable to switch into three different languages. His younger brother is too young for actual speaking ( for a multilingual child - yes mine do speak late...more on this later) but even him now switches the limited words he has three-way depending to whom he is speaking to. Yes, kids are individuals and we have been very lucky but also there are some approaches that we have tried and tested.

Well, this is what has worked for us:

 We made it a need for both LingoBabas to speak in the minority languages. This means I make it obvious that it is an absolute necessity to speak to their parents in a respective language. With a toddler that is about to start speaking, we affirm the new word (said in the majority lan…