Building fond memories of learning a language with Dad

The 5 Questions: How do you inspire your child to learn a new language?

Profile: Ishaan and 3-year old daughter Inaya
Location: New York
Inaya’s native language: English
Language Inaya learns: Hindi

1. What is your favorite activity that helps Inaya learn Hindi?

I have several favorite activities. Going for a swim. Reading books together. Trips to the zoo and to the aquarium. There are many things that I can describe to her. And it is quality time I have with her, where we can exchange just in Hindi.

2. What is a helpful tool you use?

When Inaya was just a baby, my sister sent me bilingual books in English and Hindi. These are simple books, I got 8 or 9 of them, and it helped build some basic vocabulary. I also like YouTube. I found some Hindi nursery rhymes and some old Bollywood songs that we listen to together. Inaya enjoys listening to music. She does not necessarily understand all the lyrics, but it gets her used to the tones, the sounds of the language.

3. What is your #1 challenge? What helps in overcoming this challenge?

Having a wide range of vocabulary. It might be fine now since Inaya is only 3, but it can be a problem later on. My Hindi is good for conversations, but my "academic" Hindi is limited. So explaining certain concepts just in Hindi might prove difficult. Another challenge is to stick with Hindi if Inaya wants to answer in English.

If she tells me something in English, I ask her to repeat it in Hindi. I am strict with that. My being consistent will eventually be a good thing for her. I try also to have my parents stick with Hindi when they are with Inaya.

4. Any tip or advice you have for other parents?

Stay focused and consistent. Do not be afraid if some vocabulary in English takes a little bit longer to come. Make it enjoyable and fun. Use songs, videos, iPad stories to create an environment where the language comes from different sources. It is a great reinforcing mechanism.

5. What drives you to continue?

First, I believe that acquiring a language is the best way for a child to discover that culture. I want Inaya to understand our heritage and culture. Language is culture.
Second, our brain develops in a certain way, and having a second language helps its development.
Third, I have great memories of going to German school and learning German on top of English. I would like my daughter to have fond memories of learning another language also.