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In an increasingly interconnected world, the ability to communicate in multiple languages is not just a skill; it’s a powerful asset. Parents, whether expatriates or not, often find themselves at a crossroads, wanting to pass on their mother tongue to their children. This blog is your comprehensive guide on how to successfully nurture your child’s bilingual brilliance, embracing their native language while exploring others, whether it’s a different language or simply enhancing their fluency in their mother tongue.

In a global landscape characterized by cultural diversity and intermingling, bilingualism is a cherished ability. It allows individuals to bridge divides, comprehend varied perspectives, and engage with a broader world. For parents, the decision to impart their first language to their children holds immense cultural significance and numerous practical advantages.

Nurturing Bilingual Brilliance: Fostering Your Kid's Mother Tongue

The Importance of Speaking your Mother Tongue Around Kids

Mother tongue, often referred to as one’s native language, serves as the linguistic bedrock upon which a child’s comprehension of the world is constructed. It’s the language of comfort, the soothing lullabies, and the enchanting bedtime stories. When parents converse in their mother tongue around their children, they create an environment that not only nurtures cultural roots but also enriches cognitive development.

Extensive research consistently underscores the importance of speaking your mother tongue to children. Studies reveal that children raised in bilingual environments tend to excel in areas such as problem-solving, multitasking, and creative thinking. Their linguistic agility empowers them to communicate effortlessly in various languages, expanding their horizons and opportunities.

5 Reasons Your Child Refuses to Speak Your Mother Tongue

Even with your best efforts, you may encounter situations where your child resists speaking your mother language. Identify the reasons behind their reluctance and address them positively. Encourage them to practice by making language learning fun and engaging. Here are five common reasons for this reluctance and strategies to overcome them:  

  1. Peer Influence: If your child’s peers primarily converse in another language, they may feel compelled to follow suit. Encourage a balance between languages.
  2. Desire for Social Acceptance: Children naturally want to fit in with their peers. Remind them of the cultural richness and advantages of bilingualism.
  3. Language Shyness: Some children may feel self-conscious about their language skills. Create a safe and encouraging environment for them to practice without fear of judgment.
  4. Preference for Majority Language: Children may find it more convenient to speak the majority language outside the home. Gently remind them of the significance of their tongue languages.
  5. Lack of Interest: Infuse fun into language learning by incorporating games, activities, and cultural experiences related to your mother tongue.

How to Teach Your Mother Tongue to Your Child

Guiding your child towards bilingualism is a journey worth embarking upon, albeit one that demands dedication and patience. 

  1. Consistency: Ensure that you consistently use your mother tongue at home. Children are natural mimics, so your language choices matter.
  2. Engage in Conversations: Encourage conversations in your native language, even if your child responds in another language. This practice exposes them to the language and familiarizes them with its syntax and vocabulary.
  3. Storytelling: Weave captivating stories, fables, and anecdotes in your mother tongue. Children are drawn to narratives, making it an engaging way to transmit language and culture.
  4. Leverage Language Resources: Tap into a wealth of books, videos, and online resources in your mother tongue. Today, there is a plethora of digital content that can make language learning interactive and enjoyable.
  5. Community Engagement: If feasible, connect with local communities or expat groups that share your language and culture. This provides your child with real-life language exposure and practice.
  6. Language Games: Incorporate language-focused games and activities that involve your mother tongue. This can encompass everything from crossword puzzles to language-themed board games.

Native language skills and your children – Tips for expat parents

Expat parents face distinctive challenges when it comes to raising bilingual children. Here are ten tips to assist expat parents in effectively teaching their mother tongue:

  1. Designate Language Zones: Create specific areas within your home where your mother tongue is the dominant language. This reinforces the language’s importance.
  2. Harness Technology: Harness language-learning apps and online resources to make language acquisition engaging and interactive.
  3. Celebrate Cultural Traditions: Embrace cultural events and holidays from your home country, immersing your child in the traditions associated with their mother language.
  4. Language Exchange: Collaborate with other expat families who share the goal of teaching their mother tongue. Organize language exchange playdates to encourage language practice.
  5. Involve Extended Family: If possible, engage extended family members who are fluent in your native language. This offers additional language exposure and motivation.
  6. Bilingual Education: Explore bilingual schools or programmes that offer structured language learning environments.
  7. Utilize Media in Mother Tongue: Encourage your child to watch cartoons, read books, or listen to music in your mother tongue.
  8. Stay Committed: Consistency is paramount. Commit to speaking your mother tongue daily, even if only for a short duration.
  9. Positive Reinforcement: Acknowledge and praise your child’s efforts in learning the language. Positive reinforcement can be a powerful motivator.
  10. Patience: Learning a new language is a gradual process, and there may be periods of resistance. Be patient and persistent in your efforts.

Tips for developing language skills at home

While structured language lessons hold value, nurturing skills within the confines of your home language environment is equally essential. Here are five tips for developing language skills within your home:

  1. Incorporate Language into Daily Routines: Integrate your mother tongue into everyday routines, such as mealtimes, bedtime stories, or morning greetings.
  2. Label and Learn: Label household objects in your mother tongue. This aids children in associating words with physical objects.
  3. Culinary Adventures: Involve your child in preparing traditional dishes from your culture, discussing ingredients and cooking techniques in your mother tongue.
  4. Encourage Artistic Expression: Foster artistic creativity in your mother tongue. Provide art supplies and engage in creative projects together.
  5. Engage in Language Games: Play word games, such as scrabble or word search puzzles, in your mother tongue. This transforms language learning into an enjoyable and interactive experience.

What to avoid when teaching your native language

While nurturing your child’s bilingualism, it’s crucial to be aware of potential challenges and pitfalls. Here’s what to avoid :

  1. Overcorrection: Resist the temptation to overcorrect your child’s language mistakes, as it can discourage them from speaking.
  2. Pressure and Stress: Avoid pressuring your child to become fluent overnight. Learning a new language takes time, and undue stress can be counterproductive.
  3. Monotony: Variety is key. Do not rely solely on textbooks or repetitive exercises. Keep language learning dynamic and engaging.
  4. Neglecting Other Skills: While language is vital, do not neglect other aspects of your child’s development, such as social skills and emotional intelligence.
  5. Ignoring Preferences: Recognize that your child may have preferences for certain languages or activities. Allow them flexibility in their language journey.


In conclusion, nurturing your child’s bilingual brilliance by teaching them your mother tongue is a gift that keeps on giving. Embracing the importance of mother tongue and implementing these strategies will not only strengthen their skills but also deepen their connection to their cultural heritage. Embark on this bilingual journey today, and witness your child flourish in the realm of languages.

FAQ Section

Will teaching the child another language alongside their mother tongue confuse them?

No, it won’t. Children are remarkably adept at language acquisition. Teaching them another language alongside using the mother tongue can enrich their cognitive abilities and open doors to diverse cultural experiences.

I’m an expat parent. How can I help my child speak their mother tongue when we live abroad?

You can create language zones at home, engage in cultural celebrations, utilize technology, and connect with expat communities that share your language and culture. These strategies will help your child speak languages fluently.

What role do books in your mother tongue play in my child’s language development?

Books in your mother tongue are invaluable. They expose your child to diverse vocabulary, sentence structures, and cultural contexts, enhancing their language skills and understanding.

Are younger children more adept at learning multiple languages?

Yes, younger children tend to be more adaptable to language learning due to their developing brains, making it easier for them to acquire multiple languages simultaneously.

Can a child’s school play a role in enhancing their mother tongue proficiency?

Absolutely. Some schools offer language programs or cultural clubs that focus on teaching and celebrating the mother tongue. Inquire about such opportunities in your child’s school.

How can a child be helped to learn to speak their mother tongue when they show little interest?

To engage a child in learning their mother tongue when they display little interest, consider making the learning process enjoyable. Incorporate games, songs, and activities related to their language at home. Additionally, engage them in conversations and share stories in the language.

Can teaching multiple languages at a young age delay child’s speech development?

No, it shouldn’t. Multilingual children might reach certain language milestones at slightly different times, but this is a temporary phase. They typically catch up and excel in language usage.

Why is it important for expat parents to understand the language of their host country?

Understanding the language of your host country is essential for effective communication, integration, and navigating daily life. It also sets a positive example for your child’s language learning journey.