The Malay language is ceremonially accepted as the national language in Singapore. Presently, the status and the evolution of the Malay language is overseen by Singapore’s Malay Language Council (Majlis Bahasa Melayu Singapura).
Apart from standardizing the Malay spellings in Singapore, the council promotes the use of Malay language too by introducing the Malay Language Month (Bulan Bahasa Melayu Singapura).
Students at primary level are taught the foundations of proficiency in speech, listening, writing and reading in Malay. At the secondary level, the syllabus used for the Malay language focuses on furthering the students’ use and acquisition of effective Malay language.
This ensures that their improved communication skills can facilitate them having a grasp of the Malay culture, language, values, and literature.
With this in mind, how can you help your child better horn the Malay language and also develop an interest in it? Let us look at ways that you can encourage your child to learn Bahasa Malay.
If you can be anything, be fluid
Human beings are built to adapt, meaning it is easy for us to adjust to anything. If both parents and youngsters can take over this fact, this can make learning anything very easy and even possible.
And in following the wise word of Bruce Lee, the martial arts legend, you become like water: go with the flow. If you do not speak the Bahasa Melayu language, you could consider turning this into a chance for you to learn alongside your children.
How can you learn Bahasa Melayu with your child? By getting to do different activities with your child, this can prove to be much fun!
Make Learning Fun
The good thing with Malay language is that it also uses Roman alphabets same as English. Most words are similar too with a minor alteration in the spelling. For instance, chocolate is “cokelat” and bicycle is “basikal”.
Inspire your children to create their own flash-cards, and you may either paste a picture or draw different popular items and write the name using both languages at the back.
Also, take turns heightening the vocabulary for both you and your kids with the “I Spy” or “Word Train” game as you drop them at school. It will not only help them look forward to going to school, it will also help reduce the stress brought about by traffic.
Travel out to learn
Language and culture go together. For the next holiday, you could try planning a family visit to the cultural homestays supported by Singapore’s Ministry of Tourism.
Getting engulfed in beautiful greenery, fresh air, and the friendly kampung folk can make you forget that you are still picking up the language. By making some effort to learn Malay can certainly lead to some appreciative cheers.
This is a good chance for you to know your locality better and look out for close by night markets, locally best-known as Pasar Malam. Haggling with the seller for the price in their mother tongue is a surefire way to get yourself a bargain. From sandals to spices, the choices are limitless. Be sure to remain civil and polite.
Eat your own words
Food is also one of the best motivators for improving your Malay skills. Adults and children alike will enjoy figuring out the meaning for the menus in the local restaurants.
Be prepared to share a laugh together as you all find out that ‘masak lemak cili padi’ doesn’t mean “cooking rice chilies fat”. This is a great and fun way of learning the Malay language as you enjoy local Malaysian cuisine.
For those who are budget savvy, getting cookbooks in Bahasa Malaysia will help. Decode the ingredients and preparation instructions for the recipes with your family. Start with those recipes that are similar to meals you’re already used to such as soup or jellies.
Additional Ways To Help Your Child Learn Malay
• Sing it, Say It
Search through YouTube or visit a karaoke parlor for songs that you can sing with your child in Malay. Several independent vloggers, as well as commercial local media all, have tried to translate some songs that are well-known from English to Bahasa Malaysia.
Some of these include some Disney classics like ‘Reflection’ from Mulan (Bayang), and even ‘You’ll Be In My Heart’ from Tarzan (Kau Di Hatiku). You and your kids will continue singing to the music even without realizing it.
• Encourage your child to watch Movies and documentaries
Consider increasing your children’s familiarity with the Malay Language by letting them watch ML television programmes and even listening to radio stations in the Malay Language.
Through hearing the deejays speak in the Malay Language can help your children pick up more new words and sentence structures.
There are some movies that also feature music which you could sing along to like “Kami Penyamun” from Nujum Pa’ Blalang. This will help broaden your child’s idiom knowledge and it’s useful in essay writing!
• Encourage your child to publish essays on social platforms
You could also consider encouraging your child to do more writing in Malay by publishing their essays on media platforms like blogs.
This can help your child to hone their skill in self-expression as well as sharpen their thinking. This will also help in improving and promoting your child’s level of imagination and expression as well.
How can you help your child on this journey? Consider offering guidance to your child so that they properly use words and phrases in sentences. Let your child express themselves with confidence.
Though the Malay language is accepted as the national language in Singapore, it can be challenging for students to learn. However, with the help of their parents, children can have a better chance of honing the language skill as well as do well in their exams.
So, what can parents do to help their children learn Bahasa Malay? By using the above-mentioned tips, parents can support their kids in learning of Malay language.
Mastering a new language starts at home. Here are some of the tips to master a language fluently: