Give peas a chance

An interesting article in the Washington Post that I found today describes one way of encouraging kids to learn languages – through a shared task, in this case, shelling peas.

The article’s author explains that her son was reluctant to learn her mother tongue, Hindi, until a visit to India when he was four years old. During that visit, the son saw his mother and grandmother shelling peas and wandered over to find out what they were doing. He was fascinated by the pea pods and started to open them up to extract the peas. While doing this he listened to the others and started asking questions, which they answered in Hindi.

After returning to the States, the author continued to shell peas with her son while talking with him in Hindi and telling him stories, which he found very interesting, and he now speaks Hindi well. The author also explains how she heard the stories from one of her relatives while making noodles.

This entry was posted in Language, Language learning.

3 Responses to Give peas a chance

  1. Polly says:

    “Work for whirrled Peas” 🙂

    Goes back to my point about language acquisition being closely related to using it in one-on-one interaction. It almost seems like the brain doesn’t think a language (or anything else) is important until it actually needs to be used in context with split-second recall times.

  2. Rmss says:

    Reminds me of the older people in Northern-American Indian tribes who used to pass their language to the kids by spending time one-on-one by working and explaining the language :-).

    But how can a child be reluctant to learn the mother tongue of one of his/her parents? Wouldn’t it be wise for the parent to speak to the child in the language as soon as he’s/she’s born?

  3. James says:

    wise yes, but there are all sorts of social issues involved:

    do I belong to the old country or the new one,
    I don´t want to be different,
    Hindi (or whatever) is useless in this country,
    I will never get on in life if I don´t speak perfect English (can lead parents to refuse to speak their native language with the children, which is what happened in my family and my Dad is monolingual when he could have grown up bilingual in Polish, which would have been amazingly useful in the last 10 years with the sort of work he does).

    I think this is why I find dead languages impossible to dedicate loads of time to: who am I going to speak to in it?

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