Your spouse and you belong to two different states and your respective native languages are entirely different. You are keen that your child learns to speak both of them. The first exposure to the language your child gets is, of course, the language you and your spouse talk to each other in. If the child needs to pick up languages that are not a norm in the house, then a few of these ideas can help-
- Plan ahead. Decide and agree on certain basic things- how fluent do you want your child to be in the respective languages? Do they need to know to read and write? What is the future goals associated with this exercise? It is not necessarily easy for your child to learn a new language. Therefore, plan ahead.
- Stay consistent. Once you have a plan in mind, stay consistent. Do not vary from the plan it will send mixed signals to your child, resulting in confusion and hesitation to speak either of the languages.
- One parent-one language. This is when both of you speaks to your child in your respective native tongue. Children are savvy and will soon figure out which parent needs to be addressed in which language.
- One family-one language. You can also decide that one native language will be taught to your child. This, of course, means that both of you need to learn that language so that your child finds it easy to talk to both of you in the native language.
- Practice, practice. The more your child listens to the language the more they learn. Do not lapse into a common language because it is convenient or because it is easier to get the point across. Children will be quick on the uptake and will stick to answering in the common language as it takes less effort.
- Get exposure. If you have decided that your child will learn both languages, look for avenues where they can get more exposure to the languages. Enlist help from grandparents, from aunts and uncles who speak the language.
- Internalize culture. Read them stories in your native language. Both of you can take turns doing this. Also, get them introduced to some form of art from the native region like dance, music etc. This way your child learns more about your culture and takes pride in it. Make an effort to celebrate festivals from both sides of the family. Get them involved in community festivities and encourage them to participate.
- Have patience. Raising a bilingual child can be frustrating at times. But the key is to keep going in spite of the challenges. Do not worry too much if your child does not achieve the same proficiency in all the languages. Sometimes you just have to wait an extra bit for the result.
Nevertheless, your child speaking your native language can be a great source of joy and pride for you. Focus on the success and learn to marvel at what you have achieved.