Over the last few weeks, a new trend has developed among our family. One evening, we treated the girls to a picnic-like dinner involving a homemade sandwich and crisps on our small living room table, sitting on their small IKEA chairs. We thought it would be a nice break from our traditional dinner at our big family table. The girls were delighted at this little eccentricity in our routine. The cherry-on-the-cake was something we never have at dinner time: watching TV! We screen animal documentaries from Netflix. The “One Planet” program, narrated by the one and only Sir David Attenborough, shows high-quality pictures of nature.
The fact that we screen documentaries means our daughters do not get too engrossed as they would usually do with an animated movie or cartoon. They marvel at the beauty of what they see and they share their impressions more readily. It gives rise to comments and questions such as “ how do whales make that sound?”. Imagine how much minority language discussions can sprout from these simple (or not so simple! 😉 ) questions. Discussions and new vocabulary. Obviously, some questions can be a bit out of our league to answer, and Google needs be called in to help. But the whole point is there: communication.
This kind of treat is not something to do every day, but once a week or fortnightly works nicely. We usually do so when we have the girls dinning before us. We sit on the sofa next to them and watch the documentary together, ensuring discussions bud and watching out in case the telly gets mind-numbing (nothing as such to report so far). Minority language blooms more effectively when exposure is combined with interaction with another speaker. Family time provides just that.
All four of us thoroughly enjoyed this quality family time in our minority languages, teaching them new vocabulary, answering their questions, satisfying their curiosity, and whilst at it, starting to gently raise awareness about endangered species and the effect of human activity on nature.
Last night, as I was preparing this post, my girls were enjoying another one of these treats. It was wonderful for them to discover a sight of the Earth seen from the Moon. As the Earth spun, I highlighted continents and our ml countries and their capital cities. What better lesson than this? The girls were fascinated to discover how our living room world map canvas transposed onto the beautiful sight of our blue planet. As the little one left early to get ready for bed, my eldest stayed behind to watch the documentary till the end. It was an opportunity to spend time and chat with her about the world; something I do not often get a chance to do. Priceless.