My daughter Róisín will be 3 in November, and I have spoken Gàidhlig exclusively to her all of her life. Still, we live in a very anglophone community, I work full-time and I’m the only person she hears speaking Gàidhlig (apart from the occasional reinforcement offered by my wife).
It’s a real challenge to try to maintain the language in the home, especially when resources are scarce and Gàidhlig is a minoritized language. She’s already intuitively catching on to these asymmetries of prestige and dominance. How can I keep her engaged despite these difficulties?
Children have two characteristics that I have realized could be exploited for certain aspects of language learning/teaching at this age:
- Vanity – they like attention and things that highlight themselves;
- They enjoy being oppositional to parents.
Although she enjoys videos in general, and I’ve managed to procure a few Gàidhlig videos for us to watch together, she really enjoys seeing herself on video. She likes to watch and re-watch the videos I’ve made of her, and since she speaks Gàidhlig in them, it actually seems to reinforce her interest. She even imitates herself in them.
In the course of her emerging opposition, we developed a little “opposites” word game that I believe helps reinforce her vocabulary. She is supposed to respond to the opposite of whatever word I say to her in Gàidhlig.
So, for whatever it’s worth, here’s a little video of us interacting: (a) the opposites word game, (b) me asking her where various body parts are, and (c) singing a song together (“Tha mi sgìth”).