Want to encourage young children to learn their mother tongue language? Educators share tips to help parents.
Madam Saniah Sakian uses wayang kulit, a traditional form of puppet theatre, to dramatise stories. She teaches Malay language at NTUC First Campus’ My First Skool centre. It is to spark an interest in the language.
MADAM SANIAH, WHO SAID LISTENING TO STORIES EXPANDS THE CHILDREN’S VOCABULARY
Chinese-language teacher Zhang Xuan Hong from St James’ Church Kindergarten uses props too. Get the kids to take on characters, she said.
Use signs in the street to teach children Tamil words, said Mrs Louis Jeya Rubi Caroline, who teaches Tamil at a PAP Community Foundation Sparkletots centre. “Teach them to join the letters to form simple words.”
Children are more likely to remember words related to their everyday environment, said Madam Zhang. One idea is to place labels on common items at home, like objects in the living room.
Madam Saniah teaches the children about traditions in cooking lessons, where they learn to make simple delicacies. “It’s a good way for them to interact in Malay and ask questions about the ingredients,” she said.
Children in Madam Zhang’s classes often play games to learn words, or they string new words into a rap that they belt out. “The child can take the role of a teacher and ‘teach’ the parent some Chinese words,” she said.
Parents should avoid testing the child’s language skills, according to Ms Renee Sim, senior curriculum manager at EtonHouse International Education Group.
If your children love to read, but resist picking up books in their mother tongue language, you could be the reason. They look at what their parents are reading, said Ms Sim. So include titles in your mother tongue.
Ms Sim emphasised the importance of parents praising their children even if they use short phrases in the mother tongue language. It is about building their confidence.
PRODUCED BY: DENISE CHONG