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Which language should be taught first to my son?

Q: I am a mother of a five years old boy. We are living in Holland but basically are from Delhi. We use two languages at home - Hindi and Punjabi but the people here speak Dutch. I am quite confused as to which language should be taught first to my son. I myself can't speak Dutch properly. My son is more exposed to Dutch. This creates a lot of misunderstandings while communicating. He knows all the English alphabets and read three letter words like CAT etc, which I have taught him. My son also goes to a school daily just for two hours. The teacher has reported that he does not play with other kids because he finds difficulty in communicating well in Dutch with other kids. What should I do?

A:Perhaps you should decide on Hindi OR Punjabi as the home language. If the school starts formal teaching of language only when children are six years old, why are you trying to teach him the alphabets now? In many European countries, formal teaching starts at the age of six or even seven, and the children are able to master the language well in the next two or three years. Even two hours at a play school will be OK. Just get him children books and music in Dutch so that he gets a chance to hear it. Spoken language (listening and speaking) is the best way to be confident. Do not teach too much on your own, but let the child see TV meant for young children in Dutch and he would gradually pick up the language. I do not think that you have to be anxious about it. As you also learn the language you will be using it in playing with him.

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