Exposing your child to different cultural values leads to unique social, educational and personal development.
A main part of ethnic identity is the native language.
Parents who are living abroad tend to teach young children the community language first. For instance, an Italian couple moving to England will encourage their child to learn English first. It makes sense – you would want them to communicate in the same language as the locals and don’t want to worry about them being isolated or left behind.
We agree that English is an important language to learn. It’s a global language, spoken across the globe. Being fluent in an international language is a smart choice. However, prioritising learning the community language shouldn’t dismiss your native or mother tongue.
However, both studies and anecdotal evidence show that teaching your children your mother tongue is beneficial in various ways.
Understanding Cultural Heritage
Strong roots with their cultural heritage give children a sense of belonging. Fluency in their mother tongue helps them understand where they come from and why it’s an important part of their identity.
In a grey, globalised world, retaining your language and culture sets them apart. You can teach them to be proud of where they come from so they can pass it on and keep the chain going.
Communicating with Family Members
Grandparents and other family members in your country of origin might not speak English. It’s important to keep the line of communication open, especially if you are close with your immediate and extended family.
For example, if you’re from India but live in the UK, your parents might not know a word of English. By teaching your child their native language, you enable your child to communicate and build a bond with their grandparents.
Intellectual and Academic Capacity Development
Studies show children growing up learning more than one language show signs of better overall intellectual development and have better critical thinking abilities.
Particularly in the earlier years of their lives, they can establish a better executive control of their brain. They possess the ability to think, analyse and process information in different languages, along with understanding various contextual meanings.
They can develop sentences and form expressions much more easily.
Picking up Another Language
When a child is fluent in more than one language, learning another one becomes much easier. They have a wider linguistic ability in terms of pronunciation and phonetics.
Learning community languages like English is important but keeping your mother tongue alive has many benefits that will only help your child be a better thinker and learner with a better understanding and connection to their roots.