Our children learn Italian and Dutch. As we live in The Netherlands, Dutch is their majority language and Italian is their minority language.
Antonio and I decided we’d mainly speak our mother language to our children, even though we both speak both languages, in order to make sure they would learn our languages the right way. At the same time, I think we need to make sure they have enough exposure time to both languages.
Most important to me, is that it’s fun to them. I’d never want them to feel obliged to speak a certain language, as I think that could backfire when they grow up.
That’s why we have three ways to increase exposure time with the minority language (at that moment):
Videochat with family
As I wrote before, it’s very important to me that our children keep in touch with their family abroad. A call, just to chat a bit, isn’t just nice, it’s also a moment to speak Italian (or Dutch when we’re in Italy). Main advantage is that videochat is very interactive, so you don’t just listen – you also speak.
2. Reading books in different languages
Each time we go to Italy, we buy some new books to take home. This way, we have enough books to pick from (in stead of just one Italian book between all kinds of Dutch books). Great about reading is that the kids don’t just hear spoken language. It helps to amplify vocabulary and grammar.
Nice upside: not only the kids learn! I pick up on the ‘passato remoto’ thanks to all kinds of fairy tales!
3. It’s OK to watch TV
It’s very easy to find movies in different languages. Big advantage is that my children enjoy this a lot. I’m not always in favor of watching TV, but the thought of them having some extra exposure time with their minority language without noticing, is reassuring.