There are many ways to expose to the minority language (ml). The ones that spring to most people’s mind are media and books. However, there is a much more subtle one that was suggested to me by a bilingual mum: prints around the house!
Look around your home, and try pointing at everything that is in the Majority Language (ML). Text on posters, prints on clothes, food packaging, beauty products’ labels…. For children of reading age, all these prints are unconscious triggers to use the ML… and a lost opportunity to learn the ml vocabulary.
Realistically, it is very complicated to suppress all these ML prints (trust me, I am still battling the food and toiletries packaging!!), but we can definitely reduce their presence around our home and hence influence. Here is a list of ideas for you to explore:
In the kitchen
- Replace food packaging with glass jars – Stick on the jars some charcoal labels with the ml name written on it using a chalk marker. This is the great tip this bilingual mum mentioned earlier gave me and I fell in love with this idea and actually let it run wild in my kitchen. All my spices and carbs are now stored in these jars.
- Use ml food tins – If like me you are lucky enough to have a widely spoken ml, use food tins stood store cereals, biscuits, chocolates and more.
- Use ml ceramic dishes and pots – If you are no tin fan, you can use these to store food, from coffee to butter (farewell the greasy wrapper that stained the fridge shelf!).
- Reuse ml food boxes – Some food packaging boxes can be reused, so if you happen to have some ml some do not throw them out just yet! For instance, I store my porridge in a Mark & Spencer’s oat’s box (obviously all written in English!). I had warned you that I had let the idea run wild!
- Replace ML notes on the fridge with ml memos.
- Hide/Put out of reach any ML packagings – It is impossible to remove all ML packaging from one’s kitchen, but it might be possible to hide those that remain by storing them out of sight and/or reach. Prioratise and store in ml containers foods stuff that are used on a regular basis, and that are particularly handled by your children; e.g: breakfast cereals.
- Purchase unpackaged goods – Organic food stores and even some supermarkets now sell some items on a help yourself basis, in brown paper bags. An environmentally but also ml friendly solution!
In the bathroom
Yes, it is also possible to strike linguistically in this unlikely room of your home!
- Use neutral containers or containers labelled in the ml – For instance, a tissue cover box or pretty ceramic soap dispenser.
- If you cannot promote the ml, you can at least limit the ML influence by removing the wrapping around them – For example storing the loo rolls in a fancy basket, keeping the cotton wool in a cotton wool box instead of its packaging, removing ML labels from some toiletry bottle or even limit the number of ML bottles in sight on your shower rack (1 huge shower gel bottle instead of 4 small ones, is always less ML text to read!).
In the living room and bedrooms
- Put out of sight any ML books and replace them with ml books on your book shelves.
- ml posters in your child’s bedroom – put up pretty ml posters around their interests and/or what they learn at school. For instance, I have put up some ml phonics posters and a world map.
- Clear decorations with ML prints from your living room and bed rooms and try to favour ml prints if you can, or at least neutral decorations without any text.
Have you got anymore tips? Please share them in the Comment section!