It’s complicated. In the evenings I get home… around the table automatically we speak English because that’s the language my wife speaks, so when we speak together we speak English. So automatically English dominates… it’s difficult.

French father living in Christchurch

Raising children with more than one language can be challenging at times, particularly if one parent does not speak the minority language well, or if the child/ren are going through a phase of rebelling against the minority language. The people interviewed for the ITML project had a great variety of tips and suggestions for using minority languages in different ways, to ensure high levels of motivation from the entire family. If you want to add suggestions to the list below, please get in touch via our Facebook page – we’d love to hear from you!

Creative suggestions for using a minority language:

  • Write a daily diary or journal in the minority language
  • Listen to minority language audio books or music
  • Sing karaoke in the minority language
  • Play computer games in the minority language, particularly ones that require listening to, or reading, a lot of instructions
  • Watch DVDs or movies in the minority language or, if that isn’t possible, turn minority language subtitles on while watching a DVD in English
  • Skype, FaceTime, or any form of video call other minority language speakers (including overseas relatives)
  • Text or email other minority language speakers (including overseas relatives)
  • Organise playgroups, coffee groups, or regular group outings with other minority language speakers in your area
  • Create (or attend, if one already exists) a minority language school or classes in your area
  • Celebrate cultural events that relate to the minority language
  • Have ‘minority language only’ areas in the house – no language other than the minority language must be spoken in the dining room, for example

Suggestions, ideas, and other resources to help with motivation: