When switching to using a minority language (ml), some family members might find it difficult to remember to stick to the ml. Habits are hard to break for most of us, and when it comes to young children they might also need to learn the new rule.
Here are 4 ideas to remember to use the minority language:
- Visual reminder(s) – There is no limit as to how many you may use, they can be as personal as you want them to be, and they come in all shapes and sizes. For instance, if your ml rule is English, a nice poster with a British landmark in your living room, a souvenir from your last trip to the ml country or even a flag! When we switched to the minority language @ home (ml@h) strategy, we wanted to make sure our eldest daughter (4 at the time) understood the change that was taking place and abide by the new house rule. We entrusted her with a little golden envelope containing the 3 flags of our languages. We instructed her to stick the minority language flags on the outside of our front door so as she walks in the from the Majority Language (ML) world and remembers to use the mls at home. On the inside of the front door, she had to stick the ML flag to remember on her way out that it was now okay to use the ML. This visual reminder proved to be powerfully effective. And whenever she slipped, my daughter was sent to check them out again.
- Make your child the language police – children love having authority over the grown-ups, so make the most of it.
- ml piggy bank – it is the same concept as putting a coin in the piggy bank if you ever slip and use foul language; except here it is whenever you use the ML! And why not make it work hand-in-hand with making your child the language police, and reward him/her with an ml gift paid with the piggy, once you have permanently switched to the ml…? 😉
- Make your house an ml haven – Now this will only really work for ml@h families since the ideas is to immerse yourself in the minority language only: TV, radio, books, texts around you…. Hearing the ML is too tempting for code-switching habits. Remove the ML and you will not think about using it.
Have you got any tips to remind yourself to use the minority language? Share them using the comment section, and help other bilingual parents!