“Hey, that sounds like a word in my language!”

A good number of the children who come to our language clubs have another language at home, including Hungarian, Korean, Arabic, Malayalam, Spanish, Mandarin, Dutch, Welsh, and numerous others, and we encourage them to share their knowledge with others in the class.

Often someone will say, “That reminds of a word in my language.” Sometimes there is a direct etymology linking the two words, which we’ll do our best to point out; sometimes it’s just something that sounds similar or sounds funny, but either way it’s an extra “hook”, and it helps the child to remember the new vocabulary.

It also helps to give value, in the children’s eyes, to their “other” language. A rather too common sentiment among bilingual children is that “everyone I know speaks English, including everyone at home, so what’s the point of this other language that mum/dad makes me speak?” It’s hard to explain to a 9-year-old in any meaningful way the myriad of future opportunities that a second language can bring, so anything we can do to make it useful now is good. And of course, the child with the Korean mother or the Dutch father knows far more Korean/Dutch than everybody else in the room, so they’re pleased and proud to share their knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *