Although we do not anticipate those children growing up in Singapore to do any writing in Tamil as English is the main language medium. It, however, is an important skill.
What then are the reasons and factors that lead to this? And what are some possible solutions that parents can use to teach children Tamil at home?.
Below we will look at possible causes and solutions to this situation. Let us get started!
Parents don’t use the Tamil language at home
Though some parents are fluent in Tamil, they have, however, got using the English language in their daily lives.
What can parents do to turn this around? Parents should make an effort to speak Tamil language at home and also with others who speak Tamil. In so doing, it will automatically assist them to speak in Tamil often with their children.
Kids start daycare while still young and thus learn primal language skills from those who use English
Since both parents are employed, children will naturally be sent to childcare. What can they do to support their children in learning Tamil? You could have relatives or grandparents visit and spend time with the kids during a school year.
When possible, you can get the children to visit India each year. These options will expose your children to more Tamil speaking surroundings and hence motivate them on a subconscious level.
Parents don’t put any importance in their children to speak Tamil
Most parents believe that their children do not need to know Tamil, considering they will lead their lives in Singapore. Though it could be true, it, however, means they are consciously rejecting their roots.
The language is a basic characteristic which constitutes one’s own representation of who you are. When this logic was to extended, then a lot of things we follow – cultural behaviors, dietary habits, religion, and also other value methods – would be discarded.
The children do not want to learn/speak Tamil
Some children may feel that using English as a common language, it won’t matter whether they learn Tamil or not. Such a situation can be difficult. Since it shows that the kids are at an age (normally 7 and above) without using Tamil much.
What can parents do in such a situation? They can use the appropriate mix of the four persuasion methods used traditionally(dhAna, sAma, dhaNdam, bEdha) to motivate their children.
The children experience peer pressure and they would like to fit in with their friends
It happens that your child might just stop speaking Tamil. This is considered an identity challenge. So, then how can parents help their children to move past the issues? Parents should explain their cultural practices and teach them that speaking/learning Tamil is not a sign of being inferior.
This situation offers the parent the opportunity to pass on their knowledge regarding their culture and heritage to their children. Not to mention it allows for binding with your children.
As children grow, their knowledge of English grows, but their command of Tamil remains unchanged
Since a child’s Tamil language skills are lacking, they will not be able to interact well in Tamil as they do in English.
How can parents support their child’s learning process? You should help your children improve their Tamil skills.
For instance, when they say something in English, you can tell them how it is said in Tamil. Then have your child retell it in Tamil. By using this method, your kid’s Tamil will improve steadily.
The older kids speak to their siblings in English
It can happen that your older children use English as they speak to their siblings. Is there a way that parent can help turn this around?
In such a situation, parents should encourage all children to use the Tamil language at home. You could consider setting a house rule around this. This will mean that your children get to only communicate in Tamil at home even when you are not near them.
It is thought that children have to learn English sooner for them to not have any disadvantage as they join the schooling plan.
Often times parents will explicitly encourage their children to communicate in English at home. It is a misconception. Usually, children watch adequate TV (Sesame Street, Barney, and many others good and not so great programmes).
Thus parents do not have to be troubled about their kid’s English knowledge as they join the primary school.
How can you apply the same concept in teaching your child Tamil?
Tips That Parents Can Use To Help Their Child Learn Tamil
• Establish a rule that when children have to speak an English sentence, they get permission whenever they want to do it.
This places clear expectation that the kids must speak in the Tamil language always. How will this rule help your child? This rule will also put an upper limit restriction on parents since they will have to adhere to the same rule. English can be used when it’s absolutely necessary and they don’t know the word in Tamil.
• When your child says a word in English while speaking Tamil, assist them to communicate the same in Tamil. Let them retell it in Tamil.
This the learn as-you-go approach. As your kid grows and the situations change, you are available as their on-demand translator/tutor. Adopting this approach ensures great development in daily-life transactional language.
• Share stories using Tamil language
As a kid is growing, sharing stories with them in Tamil will impart some key skills. This is things like identifying sounds utilized in Tamil language and also building Tamil vocabulary. Also, this will imparts in them cultural sensitivities as well as other intangibles.
• Read to your child in Tamil
After every sentence in the English language make sure you translate it also into Tamil. There are plenty of Tamil books in the national library that you can borrow to help motivate your child’s interest in the language.
Learning Tamil is very important for young children. Whether you are opting for them to study the language in primary school or choosing a different mother-tongue altogether, Tamil is still a part of his culture and heritage. Motivating your child to be bilingual (or even trilingual!) will help him in the future.
Mastering a new language doesn’t need to be daunting. Here are some of the tips to help you: