Mother language for emotional and mental growth
Mother language has a very powerful impact in the formation of the individual. Our first language, the beautiful sounds of which one hears and gets familiar with before being born while in the womb, has such an important role in shaping our thoughts and emotions. A child’s psychological and personality development will depend upon what has been conveyed through the mother tongue. With this in mind, as psychologists say, it matters tremendously that language expressions and vocabulary are chosen with care when we talk to children. A child’s first comprehension of the world around him, the learning of concepts and skills, and his perception of existence, starts with the language that is first taught to him, his mother tongue.
Mother tongue is an indicator of cultural identity
A child connects to his parents, family, relatives, culture, history, identity and religion through his mother tongue. Native language links the child with the culture of the society the child comes from and shapes his identity. A lot of children from immigrant families, who don’t know their native language well, are at a crossroads of identity crisis. When a child doesn’t know his language well we cannot say that he will be nurtured with his culture properly for the fact that the relationship between language and culture is deeply rooted. Mother tongue is one of the most powerful tools used to preserve and convey culture and cultural ties. Children who are unaware of their culture, their language, and their history will lose confidence in themselves, the family, society and the nation to which they belong and will have no other option then seeking an alternate identity. A child will identify himself with the language and culture he knows best. For this reason, the attitudes and beliefs of immigrant parents are so important in this aspect. If they want to prevent this from happening they should find ways to help their children maintain and improve their mother language without neglecting to give affirmative messages and keeping positive attitudes about other cultures. We must not also forget that we live in a multicultural society and we should teach our children to learn about other cultures and respect them as well.
How to promote mother tongue
Keeping mother tongue in a foreign country does not happen spontaneously. Instead, it is an achievement that requires commitment and determination, especially from the family. Parents must establish a strong home language policy and make consistent efforts to help their children develop good literacy skills in their first language.
Here are some ideas about how parents can promote learning mother tongue:
-The first step parents should take is make children love mother tongue by finding ways that motivate and encourage its learning.
-Leave second language to the outside world and speak to children only in your mother tongue at home.
-Devote time each day to reading and writing in mother tongue with children until they become able to read and write it independently.
-Tell stories and discuss interesting topics such as your childhood-children love to hear about parents’ childhoods-your home country celebrations, because this will develop both their oral and vocabulary skills.
-Have books and multimedia for children in the home language.
– Provide a reward system and make learning mother language competitive among children.
-Watch TV series or favorite cartoons with them in the target language.
-Listen to songs in mother tongue.
-Send children to centers that offer courses and other types of learning in your language.
-Provide contexts where children can use home language such as visits to country of origin, organize picnics, cultural events, or celebrations with families from the same community.
-Have them keep journals in home language.
-Communicate your expectations about your home language to your child’s teachers. As professionals, they can encourage and support your child in keeping and developing their home language in many ways.