Posted by Abu Abdurahman | 2 Comments
A brother from the UK asked
Assalamualikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu Alhamdulillah. Akhi Jazaka Allahu Khairan for sharing beneficial tips on your website. I have a query. We are currently homeschooling our four year old son. My main worry is the medium of communication with my Son. Alhamdulillah i have completed book 3 of Madina University through a teacher, therefore I communicate with my son in Arabic since he was a baby. My wife knows a bit of Arabic and she use to communicate with him in Arabic until recently as my son is growing older, she has resorted to Arabic most of the times. She teaches all the subjects in English as well. I teach him Arabic bits. However my Son is speaking Arabic but with English words and vice versa it all looks a bit mess to me. What do you advise? How do you think we should structure ourselves on this. Currently i speak in Arabic with my Son. My wife speaks to him in English. I speak with my wife in English. My son speaks a mixed up language with both of us.?? Any advice would be appreciated. Jazaka Allahu Khairan.
Wa Alaykum Assalam, As for teaching your child to be bilingual with both Arabic and English this is excellent. Please don’t give up, even if your child’s Arabic is weak, in the end it will save them a lot of trouble when they really need to use it as they get older. We had an article about raising bilingual children, and I really think that the key is just having a program and sticking to it. Speak to your son in Arabic at all times. I know it can be difficult. Sometimes you just want to say “I love you” in English because it may mean more to you than أحبك but it’s a sacrifice that you have to make that will benefit your child a lot when they are older and save them a lot of trouble.
Here are some practical things that you can do to help strengthen both languages Insha’Allah.
1. You speak only Arabic, and your wife speaks only English, no exceptions. One thing I would do to fortify this idea is that I would not respond if I was not addressed in Arabic.
2. If possible get an electronic dictionary and keep it on you. This way when you want to express yourself but don’t know the word, you can quickly look it up. Also eventually your child will want to know the meanings of things and this will help to build his vocabulary if you are able to answer him.
3. You need to teach him to read in Arabic, this will give him more practice, and will build his vocabulary.
4. Don’t underestimate the benefit of having them listen to the Qur’an as much as possible. Memorizing the Qurán will also go a long way to help their listening and pronunciation, as well as develop their vocabulary.
5. Once your child is able to read Arabic, I would suggest that you study with him one of the series for learning Arabic, from Medina, Umul Qura, or Muhammad ibn Saud University. These books will start to introduce grammar and sentence structure in a practical usage that is suitable for the child.
When the parents mix languages with the child, in that one parent is speaking two languages to the child you are going to get the result of a child that speaks two languages mixed together. Sticking to a program of one parent, one language will eventually sort this out, but during the process if a child is using English for example in the middle of the Arabic sentence you are going to need to correct them and teach them how to say the sentence properly. You may not have all the vocabulary to do so but this is where a dictionary will come into play, and you’ll benefit as well. The most important factor is that no one parents speaks two languages to the child, because this is what has and will result in the difficulty that you are facing. We hope this is beneficial and we ask Allah that he grants you and the other parents trying to raise their children with the Arabic language success.
Assalamu Alaykum wa Rahmatullah.