- 1. Daily Afrikaans Lessons
- 2. Afrikaans Songs for Children
- 3. Afrikaans Games for Kids
- 4. Let Them Watch Afrikaans Cartoons
- 5. Acquire the Services of an Afrikaans-Speaking Babysitter
- 6. Move into an Afrikaans-Speaking Area
- 7. Ensure that Afrikaans is your Child’s Second Language at School
- 8. Engage the Services of an Afrikaans Tutor
- 9. Be Patient
Parents always worry about their kids, right? Generally, that’s what parents do. They have become worldly-wise and so fear for their off-spring who, to their minds, appear to not have a clue as to what’s lying ahead of them.
What’s going to happen to you in this fast-changing world?
You may find yourself asking questions like these? Parents tend to do so as they always want to do what’s right or considered best for their children.
The choice of a second language is one such a concern for parents. Afrikaans has increasingly become the choice of a second language for many South African learners. It is, thus, important for parents to answer the question: “How best do I prepare my child to learn Afrikaans? The school should not be alone in this endeavour. You, the parent, play a pivotal role.
You can start to teach a child almost any language before the age of five or six. Ideally you should start somewhere between birth and three. The slate (his/her brain) is still virtually blank and anything can be inscribed on it. Vitally important is that the parent uses the language on the child, every day if possible. If you don’t speak Afrikaans yourself, it would be great if you were to learn along with your child.
Your child will have several options available to him or her in terms of learning Afrikaans.
The way your child learns new words will amaze you!
1. Daily Afrikaans Lessons
Children learn a good many things through imitation. Adults often see themselves in the way that their children respond in certain situations. So too with language. They will follow your example. The earlier you start with them, the better. Once they are teenagers, they won’t necessarily want to follow what you do! It will also be far more difficult for them to adapt to a new language, since their language of choice may often ‘interfere’ with their acquisition or understanding of the target language.
Build Afrikaans into your everyday interaction with one another. Their learning will now be incidental. It won’t be regarded as a lesson! Wash the dishes with them in Afrikaans. Or use it while you’re in the garden or in front of the telly (kykkassie). Teach them the terms for flower (blom), lawn (grasperk) and tree (boom), for example.
Language experts agree that teaching them at a tender age can be a great springboard for the learning of a language like Afrikaans.
Make a habit of speaking Afrikaans to them every day.
Learning Afrikaans as a second or foreign language holds many benefits.
Advantages gained by learning a second language include:
- Your child will be academically stimulated: Research has shown that children who are bilingual, fare better at analysis, symbolism and conceptualisation.
- Children learn faster: Children, who grow up in a multi-lingual environment, are in a better position to learn other languages at school, as well as improving their communication skills.
- Children will gain an interest in the world around them: Their discovery and growth in the ‘foreign language’ will cause them to look at the world differently and cause them to want to know more about it.
Being proficient in a second language has the added advantage of benefitting your child, not only at school, but later on in his or her professional life, for many years to come.
A good practice for parents to encourage, is the alternating between their home language and the second language. You can, for instance, alternate an Afrikaans Day with an English Day! Lead the way!
There may initially be some confusion, but they will soon learn to differentiate between what fits where and what doesn’t. With your guidance, they will gain confidence and, in no time, be using Afrikaans comfortably.
2. Afrikaans Songs for Children
You, the parent, can sing many songs from memory. Consider, even, the number of nursery rhymes you learned when you were young.
Die Dapper Muis, Die Padda Wou Gaan Opsit and Aai Aai die Witborskraai come to mind. Some, like these, are really fun and great to act out.
Sing along with them! Again, start as early as you can!
Help them understand what the song says and you’ll soon be amazed at their progress! There are also many Afrikaans songs that they can listen to online! These activities will develop their Afrikaans listening skills tremendously!
Start Them off With Afrikaans Nursery Rhymes
From an early age, even as early as 2 or 3, children can already start to learn the target language by reciting and singing along to nursery rhymes, many of which are quite lyrical. They don’t need to understand everything that they’re saying or singing. They can simply enjoy the sound and the rhythm of the recital.
Without realising it, they would be learning so much about Afrikaans: pronunciation, intonation, vocabulary and elements of syntax. At the same time, they’ll be enjoying themselves.
There are a number of Afrikaans-language songs that will be helpful.
- The alphabet: Beste Afrikaanse ABC Liedjie (ABC Song on YouTube)
- Mathematics: Somme (presented by Carike Keuzenkamp)
- Vocabulary (and fun): Die Dapper Muis, Jan Pierewiet and numerous others.
3. Afrikaans Games for Kids
A wonderful and relaxing way for children to learn is through play, in an informal, almost unstructured way. Numerous such resources for Afrikaans can be found online.
In some homes, little ones, as young as two, can be seen walking around with their parents’ cell-phones. Be the pro-active parent and combine their play with learning. Download some Afrikaans games to support their incidental learning of the language.
Not all activities have to be online. You could even initiate the playing of hide-and-seek or “I spy” in Afrikaans. You can also join in the fun and brush up on you Afrikaans at the same time.
There are a number of super ways in which a parent can assist their child’s learning of a new language, in this case Afrikaans. Count with them in Afrikaans. Name the things you buy at the supermarket: melk, kaas, rys, waspoeier, skyfies, etc. Make a point of teaching them the Afrikaans name of at least one new item with each store visit. Go home and consolidate this as you do the unpacking and stocking up the fridge and grocery cupboard.
When they are given some free time to go online, try to direct them to fun activities on the ‘net that will extend their Afrikaans vocabulary and build their confidence in using the language.
Finding online Afrikaans games which are educational is quite effortless. There are quite a number which cover topics such as the alphabet, words (building vocabulary), phrases, numbers, colour and trivia. You may just find yourself drawn in as well. Here is a wonderful opportunity to join with your child on the educational journey! They will love it… especially beating you to a word or phrase!
Let Them Play on Your Tablet
As for adults, there a many sites and apps which are geared towards improving children’s Afrikaans skills. Here again, this is an excellent way to make their learning fun and their fun educational.
Afrikaans Kiddies Stories
Make bedtime reading time. Before you shut down the technology for bedtime, use it to search for Afrikaans books for kids!
Bond with your child while you read an Afrikaans story every alternate night.
They’ll make sense of the story by following the pictures in the book. At this time of the evening, there’s no need to go into ‘heavy’ educational stuff! Their learning of Afrikaans would have grown subliminally, they would have slept and the brain would have had time to ‘file’ away the information for future use. So much better than mindlessly sitting/ slouching/ lounging in front of the TV, isn’t it? And so much bonding…Wow!
Make sure that you familiarise your child with the alphabet. These are the building blocks for reading. Your guidance is going to be of inestimable value in terms of pronunciation. So, do practice yours before you start reading to your child, especially if you’re not a native speaker. Their pronunciation in Afrikaans is going, to a large degree, be determined by the example you set.
Start early, because they are like little sponges when they are very young, between the ages of 1 and 3. To keep them interested, alternate between Afrikaans and your home language.
Because you want to hold their interest and maintain a certain level of excitement:
- Read with expression: Spice up a story, by reading with expression. Change your voice for the different characters, imitate the animal sounds…just don’t be bland, boring!
- Start with short stories: the younger the child, the shorter the attention span. Their stories should be no longer than 10 minutes.
- Allow them to choose: From time to time, allow them to select a story or return to their favourite story – a sure-fire way to keep their interest piqued!
Try to ensure, especially when they are very young, that their learning remains fun and interesting … and at their level!
4. Let Them Watch Afrikaans Cartoons
The most important thing we've learned, So far as children are concerned, Is never, NEVER, NEVER let Them near your television set— Or better still, just don't install The idiotic thing at all. – Television by Roald Dahl
Yes, this has been the view of many an educationalist. On the flipside, however, the TV can be a great aid to parents, who do not always have the time to directly be involved in their child’s learning of a new language, like Afrikaans.
If it is used judiciously, the television (or computer or tablet) can be a great tool.
As with other technological devices, parental control and guidance is critical. Help your child to watch cartoons that contribute to his or her learning and limit the amount of time he or she spends in front of the “box”, a flat screen being the operative word these days.
Afrikaans favourites, like Liewe Heksie, Heidi, Brakanjan en die Drie Musketiers and Die Swart Kat can even be accessed on ShowMax. Numerous other titles are also available on the Internet. So, no great effort required on your part! Alternatively, you could access these and many other Afrikaans cartoons online and then cast them onto your TV, even off your phone. You will be assisting you little one in learning how to speak Afrikaans in a format that he or she enjoys!
5. Acquire the Services of an Afrikaans-Speaking Babysitter
Is there a better way to help you child than to have a native speaker spending time with them daily?
A bilingual au pair or day-carer is exactly what you need. Your child’s learning of Afrikaans will receive a wonderful boost through contact with a native speaker who also speaks your home language. Your child’s understanding of, use of and pronunciation in Afrikaans will be influenced in an untold number of ways through this daily interaction. Furthermore, a lot of your child’s learning will be informal and relaxed, not rigid. You will soon find little Afrikaans references slipping into the play and daily interaction with you. You may find yourself encouraged to brush up your Afrikaans too!
If you have accommodation and your budget allows it, a live-in babysitter or nanny would be another option you could consider!
6. Move into an Afrikaans-Speaking Area
If Afrikaans is not your forte, why not consider moving into a neighbourhood where Afrikaans is the predominant language. Of course, you would have to take certain factors, like location and proximity to your place of work and your child’s school, into account. This would, of course, be a last-ditch option, if you feel that your child is not being exposed to the language sufficiently, for example, at school.
You could take your child to the park to play with the neighbouring kids and maybe have a neighbour help with introductions. You could even arrange play-dates with one or two neighbours. Generally, kids are very helpful and caring and will make your child’s learning seem like child’s play, if you know what I mean?
7. Ensure that Afrikaans is your Child’s Second Language at School
Every South African child, from around grade 2, has to learn a second language at school. They will be enrolled to study a Home Language (HL) as well as a First Additional Language (FAL). Why not make the second language Afrikaans? The earlier he or she starts to learn it, the better. This is where your input, before your child starts school, will be shown to be invaluable. If you have been speaking Afrikaans to your child from a young age, say two or three, he or she will be more comfortable and progress quicker than if you had had no input at all. Aspects such as vocabulary, syntax and pronunciation will come to him or her more naturally than if he had never encountered the language before.
Since a language is acquired over time (over many years), the sooner you start, the better. You would have given your child a fantastic head-start as far as his or her academic life is concerned! Consider the time that your child spends with you, from birth, as an exercise in immersion – one of the best ways to learn a language! Surely, it’s a crime to be proficient in Afrikaans and not share it with your off-spring! Why let the younger version of you struggle when you have the tools to help him or her?
Jump to it Mom and Dad!
8. Engage the Services of an Afrikaans Tutor
Once you’ve laid the foundation, or if your work-day simply demands to much of your time to spend helping your child, engage an Afrikaans tutor. An experienced tutor will structure your child’s learning in a way that you couldn’t and still add an element of fun. He or she would also assess your child’s progress and give you regular feed-back and advice as to what your child needs help with or where your he or she needs to practise in Afrikaans.
9. Be Patient
Be realistic about your expectations of your child’s progress. Remember: Rome wasn’t built in a day!
Know that your child’s ability in Afrikaans will increase incrementally and that you want to encourage him or her along the way. You want to be the caring, supportive parent on the side-line of a game and not the results-driven coach!
As stated earlier, your child will benefit in many ways from learning a foreign language (or a language which is foreign to them). They will be given so many options which they can exercise in the future all thanks to their learning of an ‘easy’ language like Afrikaans.
Don’t lose sight of the fact that you should try to keep their learning fun. A running term comes to mind here. Road runners are sometimes told by their coaches to “run easy”. That should be your goal with your child! Make their learning easy or loose! Enjoy the ride with them!