If you are a parent trying to pass on your language to your son in a place where the majority language is different from yours, what should you do to increase the amount of time he is exposed to the language? You might not have other speakers of your language nearby to help you with this and you would like to offer him the chance to hear someone else speak the language apart from you.
You have probably already arranged for some children’s programmes and films on DVDs and perhaps even found some audio books that you can listen to together. Remember that is important that you watch or listen to these with your son so you can make the experience more interactive by talking about what is happening, asking questions and so on. For language exposure to work well for children it needs to be interactive – you might have heard the phrase that children “soak up” language as if by magic, but that is actually not true unless they are also engaged in the communication.
So what if you have watched the same DVD for the umpteenth time and want something new? As so often nowadays, the answer can be found on the internet, YouTube being of course the first one to spring into mind. You can certainly find a lot of interesting programmes that you can watch together on there, but don’t just go for the obvious cartoons or other children’s programmes. Look for clips in your language that are on a topic that your son is interested in – be it insects, judo, cooking or airplanes. You can find something on literally anything.
Another place to go are on-line radio stations from your home country – check their schedules for interesting topics and arrange so that the two of you can listen together. Most stations now also have a podcast library that you can make use of.
Many national TV broadcasting companies also have interactive educational resources available on-line. These are usually really good not only for the language exposure, but also for learning for example maths or other topics at the same time.
However tempting it may be, try not to use these resources as “baby sitters”, as your participation is vital for the experience to be useful for your son’s language learning. And remember … have fun!
May the peace and power be with you.
© Rita Rosenback 2013