Holidays! A great opportunity to spend more time with your children. And a great opportunity to give a boost to your children’s heritage language development! Just because you spend more time with them, speaking the family language, will help a lot. But to make it more effective, there are two things to remember.
First, keep speaking your family language! I mean, 100% your family language! You guys don’t even notice how easily many of you switch to English when your kids address you in English. But I notice it all the time. That’s because you are bilingual too, and it’s natural, but we are trying to help our kids learn the family language, right? You might switch for a part of a sentence or even for just one word, repeating it after your child. Even in the latter case, you ruin your child’s opportunity to recall the word that she forgot – or maybe even learn the word she didn’t know. Does she know the words for holiday decorations? Or for winter weather?
Second, get your kids to speak the family language! I’ll keep saying this: if they listen, they learn to understand; if you want them to be able to speak, they have to speak. I already told you what happens if they listen but don’t speak. Ask them to tell stories: what was it like at their latest playdate? what gifts they liked best and why? what was their favourite day during the break so far, and why?
Good luck, and happy New Year to everyone!