The unexpected positive side-effect of setting a minority language audio background

In “ml@home: a minority language haven”, I recommended instoring a minority language (ml) background to increase ml exposure.  This tip I recommended from my own personal experience trying to immerse my daughters in our minority languages whilst at home. This strategy I have now implemented for 3 and a half years, at the time of writing this post. Little did I know when I began, the surprising result I just got…

For those of you who (wish to) raise biliterate, you will probably dream of the day when your child will be able to read in the ml so they may increase their ml exposure on their own volition, picking books at leisure. Well recently I discovered, to my surprise, that ml audio background also works that way! 

Ever since switching to ml@home, I have made sure to always play radio, music, podcasts or audiobooks in the background. Same with telly.  Spanish or English radio on weekdays during breakfast, English radio when I hit home, followed by Spanish TV until bedtime. Weekends we put a lot of music of all sorts (kids’, pop, Disney, traditional…) along with Spanish telly again. Never mind whether my kids are actually listening. 

Over time, several comments or attitudes proved kids hear everything. My youngest pointing out a radio ad mentioning Cinderella or humming and dancing to music; my eldest stopping a few minutes in front of the tally to ask about a television coverage of a traditional festivity or commenting on an animal shown.

As time went past, my eldest got used to having an audio background. Of late, I have noticed that whenever I do not put anything on, she will at her own initiative grab our tablet and turn Spotify on! With our last after-school babysitter, she got into the habit of asking for music once her homework was done. A habit she has pursued with her new babysitter. Not only does she listen to what she hears, but she picks up more ml as she can listen to some songs in a loop. Some songs she liked so much I printed out the lyrics for her so she could sing along! 😉

Our home might be a tad noisier than it already was, however it is all to the ml advantage… This unexpected side effect to our ml audio background policy is a huge benefit.  Whenever a bilingual child seeks ml exposure on his or her own, it is half of your job done! Better still, you can hope that they pay even more attention than when you choose what to play! 😉


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