I read a great article on Multilingual living and decided to put together a TOP 5 REAONS why your children are not speaking in Tongan. In my own experience with my children these are the 5 top reasons why they were not speaking in Tongan. So you want your children to speak in Tongan but you are finding it very challenging. Consider these 5 reasons as to why or what is holding your child back. Same reasons here apply to anyone learning the Tongan language not just children.
1. Ongo fiemālie (Feel comfortable):
Do your children feel comfortable to speak the language? Are they continually getting told off to speak in Tongan by you the parent or grandparents? Do they get ridiculed for their speaking or lack of speaking abilities at school, by friends, at church. You need to encourage them and make them feel comfortable and it starts at home. As an example, I tried to give them positive experiences by reading the English bedtime stories in Tongan. I would also make my kids laugh with silly songs I made up for them.
2. Ngaahi tohi mo e naunau he lea faka-Tonga (Resources)
Do they have access to a wide range of learning materials in the Tongan language. This will continue to be a problem as there are no (in my opinion) interesting books or learning material in the Tongan language for children. Keep an eye out for the ebook (The Hungry little mouse) coming out soon on youtube.
3. ʻOku fakahā kita? (Exposure)
Are your children being exposed enough to the Tongan language. There may not be enough reading resources for children but they can listen to the language. There are plenty of digital radio programmes, Tongan songs and Tongan news all on youtube. While youʼre doing chores at home, play it in the background.
4. ʻOku fakalata? (Is it enjoyable?)
Is speaking in Tongan enjoyable for your children. Do they find it interesting or difficult and boring? Play games using the Tongan language will help make it enjoyable. Play cards, find items around the house, sing songs.
5. ʻOku i ai ha fiemaʻu? (Is there a need?)
Is there a need for them to speak in Tongan. Do they have grandparents or parents that can speak to Tongan to them? Are they part of a Tongan speaking Congregation? Are they in a language class that they need to speak in Tongan? Will they be visiting Tonga anytime soon? If they see no apparent need to learn they will find it more difficult.
Did you find this useful? let me know.