Babies of 9 months are usually babbling in the rhythm of language. At this stage it is possible to tell the difference between the babbles of an English speaking baby, a Mandarin speaking baby and a Guugu Yimidhirr speaking baby.
By their first birthday they are usually developing the intonation patterns of their languages. It takes time for active vocabulary to develop but at a very young age infants have already learned the sounds of their languages and have a large passive vocabulary that increases at an astronomical rate in the early months and years of language acquisition.
The best and most natural time for children to learn languages (one language, two languages, three or 58 languages – the more the better for the growing brain) is as early as possible – from birth. By the time they start school language learning is no longer as natural and easy, so a focus on early childhood mother tongue acquisition needs to be a top priority.
Families and early childhood workers should always use AL with babies and young children
- Develop AL resources for early childhood, such as baby books, songs , games, films
- Train preschool and daycare workers to use AL
- Language nests, library groups etc
Families and intergenerational transmission
If you want to revive your ancestral language the home must be reclaimed as an ancestral language domain.
This will NOT make it harder for your children to learn and speak English. This will make it possible for them to be truly bilingual and to be confident in their own language and culture. They will thank you for doing this in the future.
Goal: to encourage both natural and conscious transmission of AL to infants and young children.
- identify competent speakers and encourage them to take an active role in language transmission
- set up language nests
- parenting groups
- library groups
- supporting young parents and grandparents in language transmission
- baby books, songs and games
- to identify and support those families who continue to transmit Ancestral Language to children and to bring them into groups to support others
Currently the two main obstacles to language transmission are the lack of literacy in AL and the fact that many young parents are weak speakers of AL.
Goals: to improve adult language skills and literacy in AL so that young parents are increasingly able to support their children’s language learning at home.
- develop the linguistic resources into accessible materials to support adult study.
- development of instructional materials for adults in spoken and written AL
- adult language and literacy classes
- homework classes for parents after school
- processes such as writer’s workshops
- developing speaking groups where older speakers can support younger people (master apprentice workshops?)