Activities to encourage learning about your native language and culture (Part 1)

There are many fun ways in which you can promote learning about language and culture.  Here are just a few.

Sing songs in your home language. Play music from your country, sing in your native language and dance. One of the best ways to learn language is through songs. Music not only makes memorization of new words easier but it also makes learning new words more fun and if you are using traditional songs, rythms and dances your child will also learn more about your culture. You can make up songs about your child and include his name in songs you already know.  

Play with puppets. Use puppets or dolls to play with your child and make up stories. You can make the puppets at home by using socks of different colors and painting eyes and a mouth on them. Talk about about the differences and similarities of people who have different colored skin, different cultures and origins.  Follow your child’s lead and let him invent stories and initiate conversations.

Look for movies or watch programs on TV in your native language. Help your child choose some movies or TV programs in your home language that are age appropriate and that take into account his interests. Look for programs that are educational and make sure to limit the amount of time your child watches TV to no more than one hour. Watch the programs or movies with your child and talk about what is going on. “These lions, are they the same as the ones you see at the zoo?  Ask him questions to find out what he is learning.  “Does our family do things the same way that the family in the program does? How are we different? How are we the same?” Use the TV with care.  At dinner time enjoy each talking to each other about your day and try not to watch TV while eating. Have a list of things your child can do instead of watching TV, like looking at a gook, playing with friends or drawing. “Danica likes to watch Disney movies so we play them in Spanish, she can only watch one per day and  we always watch them together, this way we can share and talk about what she is watching.” Patricia, Fort Myers

Use traditional costumes or objects from your country and culture to play dress up and other games that spark your child’s imagination. Give your child new ideas when playing make believe games by asking questions like: “Do they serve curry in this restaurant? I would love a plate of green curry.” Suggest a shy child parts to play in an imaginary game: “I see two waiters in this restaurant. Do you have a cook?”

Paula Bendfeldt-Diaz

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