Teaching your child your native tongue

Quran 30.23 And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colours. Lo! herein indeed are portents for men of knowledge.

When we become parents in the West. We learn other cultures and ways of life by non-muslims.
We take our heritage for granted and expect our children to speak our native language however, this does not always happen!

Mama is the word for mum that I and my husband taught my daughter and Baba is the word for father.

When she first started to say these words the excitement was great. Until we noticed that she was now speaking words in English only.

A few friends and family noticed that despite the fact she could not speak Urdu or Punjabi, she understood these languages easily.

A blessing from Allah.

As the verses of the quran state that teaching comes from surroundings. And surroundings are long time heritages.

Parents of children born in the West should be proud of the ability of children to engage and understand languages, regardless of what their native tongue should be.

Read more in the Spring issue of British Muslim Magazine SUBSCRIBE TODAY

By Maryam Ali


How can I support my child in first language learning?

There are easy ways you can help by:

  • Singing songs, telling stories and sharing books in your first language
  • Telling jokes, learning rhymes and having fun with language
  • Watching television programmes or DVDs and talking about them
  • Talking together at meal times
  • Staying in touch with family and friends by talking together on Skype or writing emails
  • Buying or borrowing dual (2) language books from the library for your child to read.

What if my child refuses to speak our first language at home?

Sometimes it can become difficult to keep talking in the first language, particularly when children and young people prefer to use English. Some children begin to feel self-conscious or uncomfortable about using their first language, especially outside the home. Teenagers may want to speak English so that they feel accepted by friends at school. Your school will want to respect and value your first language and it is important for children and young people to feel proud of their language and culture. Explaining the importance of being bilingual may help. Keep speaking to your child in their first language and in English if they want, it will help them use both.

Can my child gain qualifications in their first language?

If secondary school children already have good reading and writing skills in their first language, it may be possible to get language qualifications but this depends on which qualifications are available in your child’s first language. Ask at your child’s school to find out if this is possible. You may also be able to get qualifications at a supplementary or community school (see below). In rural areas where learners are isolated, pupils may have to do extra study at home for these exams. Many students do very well in first language exams and this gives them a lot of confidence.

You can get more information from exam board websites or at your child’s school. You can also visit AQA languages and Edexcel Qualifications.

Supplementary and community schools

To support children’s first language learning even more, you should ask people in your community, at your child’s school or at your local library about supplementary schools. You can also search here: Supplementary Education directory

Classes are usually held in the evenings or at weekends where children and young people can meet and develop first language literacy skills as well as learning about culture and heritage and/or faith. Some supplementary schools also provide support for national tests and GCSE examinations.

Source – British Council

Tags: british muslim magazine, children, muslim parents, PARENTS IN THE WEST, punjabi, urdu

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