September is round the corner and with it the end of the summer. Your child might already have or is on the verge of starting a new school year, and if you were lucky enough to spend your summer holidays in your minority language (ml) country, you might be wondering how to keep up the benefits of your ml holidays.
Here are a few things you can do to help:
- Keep in touch with the family on a regular basis – If you have spent the summer with relatives, build on the fresh bond to try to keep it going. Besides the very popular use of Skype, why not ask older children to write letters to relatives? You can also ask grandparents to get involved to strengthen the bond.
- Getting your child in a pen pal relationship with a child he or she spent the summer with – if your child already reads and writes, this could be a great experience that will not only strengthen their language skills, but also develop their knowledge of their ml culture and their affection for their ml country through this budding friendship.
- Play more ml media at home – a language is not just grammar rules and verbs to learn, it is also a living thing to be experienced to develop the corresponding culture. As part of it, playing ml media in the background as regularly as possible is definitely beneficial, immersing your child in the ml like they were during their holiday in the ml country. The media do not have to be children-orientated; they can be just anything, from the News to a gardening programme. Children might not seem to be paying attention but in fact they hear everything (oh the number of times my daughters have picked up on something mentioned on the ml radio playing in the background when they did not even seem to be paying attention!). Creating this ml environment unconsciously incites to use the ml, like when in the ml country.
- Get a magazine subscription – If over the summer your child enjoyed a ml magazine, getting an overseas subscription or asking ml grandparents to send a copy from time to time, could be a nice way to keep the link to the ml country and culture going.
- Keep playing your summer game – If you played some games during your ml holidays, bring them home and play them regularly so as to keep the ml feel and happy memories associated. Happy memories of the ml holidays will foster affection for the ml country and hence language.
- Get ml books on things your child has experienced over the ml holiday – for instance if your child visited Madrid, why not purchase a children’s book on that city, such as “Descubre Madrid” by Ana Campoy? It will help to keep the memories “alive” every time your child comes across the book. And children love to identify their experiences in books.
- If it is not already the case, set a regular ml homework routine – click here for a list of ideas to build on the “booster shot” effect of the ml holiday on your child’s language skills.
- Journaling – This great idea comes from a fellow bilingual mum who asks her 9-year-old son to keep a journal in the ml. Not only does journaling benefit the acquisition of the ml, but it also benefits the child at a personal level, teaching them to reflect on their experiences and how they felt about it.
What do you do to keep up the benefits of the minority language holidays to your kids? Please share your tips in the comment section so as to help other parents in search for inspiration!