5 Reasons your children are not speaking in Tongan

5 reasons why your child is not speaking in Tongan

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.

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Tongan Letter M colouring in activity

Here is another letter activity for your kids to enjoy.

  • Letter M is for manupuna (bird)
  • Manupuna literally means flying animal: manu (animal) puna (flying)
  • pronounced as MA (mah)
  • Tip: keep it simple and colour in for the little toddlers
  • Tip: for the older kids add feathers & coloured paper for them to paste

letterManimalactivity

Check out our Activities page tab up the top for more activities.

5 Tips learning Tongan for beginners

5 tips learning tongan

Here are 5 tips for those who want to learn Tongan as a foreign language or those wanting to improve their language skills. Learning Tongan does not have to be a chore. Follow these tips, and you will soon discover a beautiful rich language and culture.

  1. Immerse yourself. Ideally spending a good six months in the Kingdom would be the best place to learn Tongan. Otherwise immerse yourself within your local community (family, church, online) and simply LISTEN. Fanongo kihe u ngaahi lea. Listen to the sounds all around. With your family, at church, songs played on radio, programs on tv, or youtube. Listen for the sounds, the tone, the reflections in their voices. 
  2. Imitate. Remember how children first learn to speak. They copy the sounds they hear. Ma-ma, Te-Ti (Mum, Dad) are usually the first words they speak.
  3. Know key phrases. ‘Ikai mahino – I don’t understand. Koe ha ‘ae lea fakaTonga ki he … ? What is the Tongan word for …? Know some key phrases and words will help you learn quicker.
  4. Be a student.  Take notes and ask questions. Be inquisitive like a child. Don’t be afraid to make a mistake. That is all part of the learning process. 
  5. Have FUN. Learning anything new is always easier when there is some fun involved.