Your first language: a precious gift to your child

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Your child benefits when you speak your first language.  How?

  • It is easier for children who speak their first language well to learn English.
  • Children with strong language skills do better at school.
  • Your child will be able to communicate with family members and others who speak your language.
  • Both your child's self-esteem and sense of cultural identity will be enhanced.

Your child's language develops most when you speak your first language.  Why?

  • You can better explain ideas, concepts and thoughts to your child.
  • You can challenge your child by using more advanced vocabulary.
  • You can share jokes and other word play.

Talk, talk, talk! 

  • Talking together in your first language is one of the best ways to help your child get ready to read.
  • Talk about activities and surroundings throughout the day. Ask your child questions.
  • Tell stories about your family and culture. Discuss special family events, photos, recipes or traditional clothing.
  • Sing songs and rhymes.
  • Encourage your child to retell a favourite story or make up a new one.

Read and play with your child in your first language

  • Share books with your child.
  • Read the same stories over and over. Children enjoy and learn from repetition.
  • Make your own first language dictionary using pictures from old magazines.
  • Ask questions which encourage your child's participation in stories, such as "Why is that happening?", "What do you think will happen next?" or "What does this picture show?"
  • Keep reading time fun so you'll both want more.

Be a good role model!

  • Let your child see you enjoying reading and writing in your first language.

Should I use English with my children?

There may be times when you both want to practice English.  But the most important thing is to talk and read a lot, in whichever language is most comfortable for you.