Urdu, Expats and Angst. Are your children Bilingual?

This post also appears in part on All Things Pakistan: Pakistaniat.com’.

If like myself, you are parents of children growing up ‘abroad’ (outside of countries where Urdu is spoken as a major language), then we probably share a common angst if our children do not or cannot speak our native language.  Having grown up outside of Pakistan my entire life, save numerous long summers during early schooling years and then later, almost bi-annual winters during college and thereafter, I am able to converse and understand spoken Urdu.  It is thanks to my parents, who spoke Urdu throughout my young formative years, daisyeggurdubk.jpgand our visits to the motherland, that I am able today, to appreciate more of my rich culture because I have the ability to communicate and comprehend Urdu.  My wish and hope is that my children too, are able to have this wonderful gift and opportunity.  In the world we now live in, especially for our American/foreign born children, the need for them to have a strong sense of belonging and a positive self-identity in the western societies they live in, is paramount in my opinion.

As a parent of two young children now (ages 5 and 2), my husband & I constantly struggle with the fact that our children are not speaking Urdu.  We think they understand the language in some minimal capacity, but not nearly enough to elicit proper comprehension or more far flung verbal communication.  We (or rather I!) think they are in reality absorbing more than we give them credit for, but the reality is that it is not a two way road (yet).  I am a sincere optimist in this regard.  It really boils down to whether or not we as parents make the exherted and consistent effort to actually SPEAK to each other in Urdu, and therefore with our children.  It has been noted that even in households where parents speak Urdu, the children living abroad either stop speaking their native language soon after entering preschool, KG, etc. or never felt comfortable speaking it at all.  So, if your children don’t speak Urdu either because you as a parent are not using it as the first language of communication in the household, or even if you are, and your children still either cannot or refuse to, I still feel that there is good in continuing to speak.

There are a lot of theories and much evidence that while children may not speak their native language, if they are around it and hear it being spoken, their young minds may be absorbing more than you think.  Language acquisition begins from birth onwards.  Many linguistic experts agree for the most part that the years from birth to before puberty is when the brain is able to absorb the most language, as well as the proper accent and more ‘native-like’ fluency and pronounciation.  This is considered the ‘critical’ or the milder term, ‘optimal’ period for first and second language acquisition.

Psycholinguists and cognitive scientists have debated this ‘critical period hypothesis’ quite enthusiastically (from: “Cognitive Scientists on Bilingual Education”, UPI, Steve Sailer – October 27, 2000):

MIT linguist Noam Chomsky is famous for demonstrating that children are born with an innate ability to learn words and grammar. He suggests caution on the subject but pointed out, “There is no dispute about the fact that pre-puberty (in fact, much earlier), children have unusual facility in acquiring new languages.”

Chomsky’s younger MIT colleague, cognitive scientist Steven Pinker, [now at Harvard] author of the bestsellers “The Language Instinct” and “How the Mind Works,” states, “When it comes to learning a second language, the younger the better. In a large study of Chinese immigrants who entered the U.S. at different ages, those who arrived after puberty showed the worst English language skills. Still, this finding of ‘younger is better’ extended to far younger ages. People who began to learn English at six ended up on average more proficient than those who began at seven, and so on.” As an illustration, Pinker points to the famously thick German accent of former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who arrived in America at age fourteen. In contrast, his younger brother developed a standard American accent.

Pinker’s arch-rival, Terrence W. Deacon, a biological anthropologist at Boston University and author of “The Symbolic Species,” replies, “I have to agree with Steve Pinker[on this one particular issue]that learning a language early in life can be an advantage for developing language fluency and sophistication.”

I know from personal experience, that languages in which I was immersed or was spoken to during the ‘critical period’ years, are still with me, and seem to possess the ability to speak with minimal non-native accent.  I lived in Thailand until age 14 and also learned French in elementary school (as well as being exposed to French in Laos-French IndoChina- during ages 5-9).  Almost 2 decades later I can still converse to some coherent degree in those languages.  I learned Spanish in my mid-twenties, and many (!) years later, I can barely remember 5-10 basic sentences!  There is something to be said about exposing children at the youngest of ages to more than one language.  The method and order may vary.  On a separate note, I find it quite perplexing, given the evidence, that most [public] schools in the United States only begin to offer foreign language study after adolescence, in middle school or more popularly in High School!  No wonder many who take these courses end up not really becoming fluent or compentent lifelong speakers (I personally know far too many people who are in this boat).

While we as parents may get frustrated or dejected that our children are not speaking Urdu (or any other native language for that matter), remember to train yourself to speak as much as you can with each other and your children.  And I know it is a difficult task living in a country where usually only the parents are present to make the difficult commitment and effort to speak in Urdu.  In most households, the onus falls on one parent who spends the most time with the children.  But that should not absolve the other parent from strictly adhering to the commitment of staying consistent.  Speaking one’s native language consistently, is the best immersion program you’ll find outside of living in the ‘homeland’!  As I write this, we are certainly guilty of not being consistent – but nonetheless being constantly aware that if we want our children to grasp some (or more) of Urdu, we have to persevere.

A Little History…

In many instances the first generation children born from immigrants (in the late 60s and 70s) from Pakistan/India/anywhere else Urdu is spoken, were not exposed to the language as many parents of that generation chose not to expose them so that they could assimilate into the American society more readily.  Many from that first generation now have children of their own, and in many cases want their children to know Urdu, but they themselves may not be proficient in the language, which presents its own set of challenges.  There is yet another segment of society which consists of expatriates who were born and schooled in Pakistan, per se, but came to the US (or UK/Europe) for higher education, settled down there, and face the challenge of teaching their children their native language in a English speaking societies.  For some, the challenge is immense, while many others have effortlessley imparted the value of a second ‘native’ language to their children.  It is worth asking how some are able to acheive this, while also examining why many other families are left frustrated, defeated and unable to get their children to learn and speak their language.  There is a good deal to explore, so here I proceed…

Means to an End: Is Language, Culture?

If you are born to a family where their culture and language are other than American (or ‘western’) and English, the challenge to keep the family’s native language alive can be tremendous, that is if the family values their language, thus preserving their cultural ties to their countries of origin.  This is a very real and challenging reality for many expatriate and immigrant communities, who want so desperately to ‘fit in’ and assimilate to the majority culture – speaking ‘American’, dressing western et al.  Many communities are able to maintain their links to their ‘homelands’ via religious observances and keeping up with cultural traditions.  However, the strength which language has in being the bridge between the gaping divide between truly living and understanding one’s culture or country of origin, vs. just going through the motions of trying to re-enact cultural traditions is quite indisputable.  Navigating the cultural subtleties without the most essential tool, language, can never wholly bring the life of a culture to its fullest appreciation.  Having said that, there are of course, many levels of linguistic ability which dictate how deep that appreciation can be, but even a general command of a language enables one to gain a better and more profound insight and understanding of that culture.  This not to say that people cannot appreciate a traditional wedding ceremony, it’s rituals or even feel connected to a piece of music from their native lands if they do not know the language.  So many do, and feel they are part of that culture – whether they completely comprehend their language or not.  After all, non-Urdu speaking Parisians swayed in a daze to Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan’s Qawaali performances and fell in trance with his artistry – they made a connection.  But alas they were not able to appreciate the Sufi poetry or the deeper allegorical messages therein, without being equipped with the language at hand.  So while culture and it’s beautiful components may be accessible, being armed with a command and understanding of a native language can only enhance and further the appreciation of that culture.  To get to this end, so many parents today, are caught in this challenge of how to teach their children their native tongue effectively and with some degree of permanance.

Being Bilingual

urduforbeginners-2.jpgFor many who grow up in a bi-cultural household, which may consist of either one or both parents from a country of origination other than the United States, or where English is the predominant language, then the issue of language becomes the centerpiece of the way a family communicates.  Where the parents either do not speak any significant amount of English, the default family language becomes their native tongue.  In other scenarios, one parent may be a strong(er) English speaker, even educated in English through higher education levels and thus be able to impart the boons of English to their youngsters, while the other parent, not proficient or as comfortable in English, may end up communicating in their mother language, thus creating a default bilingual household.  Yet in many other groups, both parents may be proficient English speakers, who often communicate in their native language, but their dominant language of communication defaults to English.

For the purpose of this discussion, I would like to examine the ways parents teach their children a second language (Urdu, in this case) other than English.  If a parent wants their child(ren) to learn their mother tongue, the challenges can be overwhelming and cause for frustration.  How does one teach a child who is learning and speaking English, their native language?  What methods work or do not work?  At what stage is it best to introduce a native language, and if you think that ‘stage’ has already passed, is it still possible for your child to learn Urdu?  While it may be very useful to seek the invaluable advice from those who have been successful in producing bilingual children, on how they did it, it may also be useful to understand how language acquisition in children works and the theories & studies linguists have provided to get a better understanding of how children learn and acquire languages, as well as what ways are children encouraged to become bilingual.

To help understand how experts understand bilingualism and how it impacts language development, the following write up by Marsha Rosenberg from the Internet TESL Journal explains how parents can help their children become bilingual. For some, being ‘bilingual’ may mean having proficiency in one language (literacy and reading) and full listening comprehension in another – or it may mean having equal (or near equal) proficiencies in both.  It is important to define and chalk out basic expectations one has for one’s children, and make a plan from there. The following has been adapted from Rosenberg’s initial writings:

A Useful Guide:

Types of Childhood Bilingualism

Two types of childhood bilingualism have been defined. The first is simultaneous learning of two languages. It normally happens when the language used at home is different from language used in the community or school. The parents, caregivers or other family members might not speak the language of the school or the community, or the parents could speak two or more languages but have made a decision about which language they speak with the child.

The second type of childhood bilingualism is called sequential or successive bilingualism. This happens when a child has one established language before learning a second language, whether in preschool or later (the age of three usually separates simultaneous and sequential language learning). Some children and adults, of course, usually learn a second language formally through school or language classes.

You Need a ‘Language Plan’

Bilingualism really isn’t something that simply happens. Raising children to be successful in more than one language requires some careful planning and learning about bilingual language development. Success appears to depend on whether a “language plan” has been worked out in advance. Families who take the time to consider how their children will develop two languages, and who make the necessary commitments to bilingual language development, tend to be more successful in raising bilingual children.

Before you start the bilingual program, it’s a good idea to clarify your own definition of bilingualism. Language proficiency can be evaluated in terms of listening, speaking, reading and writing. A person may speak only one language but have listening comprehension in two languages. Another may listen and speak in two languages but reading and writing ability in only one.

When kids are learning two languages at the same time parents need to work out language strategies that emphasize boundaries between the languages. For example:

  • One parent, one language. Each parent consistently speaks one language while the other parent speaks another language (usually each on speaking his or her native language to the child and possibly the common language to each other).
  • Both parents speak one language in the home and a second language is used at school.
  • One language is used in the home and at school and the second language is used in the community.
  • Both parents speak both languages to the child but separate the languages according to speaking situations or alternate days.

Recommendations for parents

Here are a few basic points that are important in raising children with more than one language.

  • Provide the right environment. Do what comes naturally to you and your family in terms of which language(s) you use when, but make sure your children hear both (or all three or four) languages frequently and in a variety of circumstances. Create opportunities for your children to use all of the languages they hear. Be good listeners and good language models by introducing rich vocabulary and varied conversations. Providing books, music, and even videos in both language is also important.
  • Talk to all your children in the same way, not for instance, using one language with the elder and another language with the younger. Language is tied to emotions, and if you address your children in different languages, some of your children may feel excluded, which in turn might adversely affect their behavior.
  • Avoid abrupt changes in how you talk to your children, especially when they are under six. Don’t suddenly decide to speak French to them if you have only been using English. In this respect, beware of “experts” (e.g., doctors, teachers) who tell you to stop speaking a particular language to your child.
  • Children should not be forced into bilingualism if it really does make them unhappy. If you feel strongly about your children using one particular language with you, encourage them to use it in all of their communication with you. Try to discourage their use of another language with you by asking them to repeat what they said in the preferred language or by gently offering them the appropriate words in the language you want them to use.
  • Be consistent with the pattern you choose, stick to it. Although children can learn two languages in what seems like chaos, a reasonable amount of consistency will make their job, and yours, simpler. Once children learn the pattern they are often disturbed when a parent breaks it.
  • The more you can make bilingualism seem like a natural and unremarkable part of family life, the more likely it is that the children will grow up to enjoy being bilingual, and the more likely it is that you will succeed in keeping both languages active in your home. Do not make language an issue, and do not rebuke or punish children for using or not using a particular language.
  • Do not mix the languages. If you mix languages in the same conversation, young kids experience difficulty separating vocabulary and grammar into the appropriate language. The child may learn the “mixed” language as one hybrid language.
  • Be aware of individual difference among children. Each child learns language at his or her own speed. This is related to a variety of factors, such as length of time the family remains in the community that used the second language, relationships with the family member who speaks the second language, and attitudes toward each language expressed by the parents, school, community and especially the child. Both languages must be given importance and a sense of worth in all aspects of the child’s life.

There are speech therapists and medical doctors who claim that using two languages at young age causes language delay and language disorder. The common reason for this claim is twofold. First, they claim that hearing two or more languages will confuse the child and lead to grave problems in acquiring language. Second, it is claimed that the acquisition of the main language of the environment will stand a better chance without competition from the other language.

However, there is no scientific evidence to date that using two or more languages leads to delays or disorders in language acquisition. Many children throughout the world grow up with two or more languages from infancy without showing any signs of language delays or disorders. These children provide visible proof that there is no causal relationship between a bilingual environment and language learning problems. In addition, there is no scientific evidence that giving up one language automatically has a beneficial effect on the other.

While it is hard to figure out if it is best to just speak exclusively to your children in Urdu from the day they are born (works for countless people!), or if you feel that introducing it once they have mastered English, per se, it still is very possible for children to acquire the proper ‘native-like’ skill to speak and learn Urdu.  Children are active and quick learners, but in order to give them the chance, they must be adequately exposed to the language in as natural a manner as possible.  If circumstances permit, visit the homeland whenever feasible and perhaps for longer stretches of time (as opposed to that awefully short winter window during the December/January wedding rush – Yes, summer is sickeningly hot, but everything has it’s price?).  Teach them children’s songs or listen to Urdu music in your car.  Read them their favorite stories and re-tell them in Urdu.  Help them develop a vocabulary by showing them pictures of household items, for example, and saying what they are.  Sometimes if done in a sublte and non ‘classroom’ like manner, children learn more enthusiastically and with a stronger connection and permanance.

It is my hope that some of the points made here will serve as either a good starting point for those of us discouraged or unsuccessful at helping our children become more grounded in their abilities to learn and speak Urdu.  It is an extremely difficult process for many, but being consistent in speaking with your children in Urdu as much as possible is the secret.  We know that they will learn English or any other ‘majority’ spoken language in the country you are living in.  Learning Urdu outside of places like Pakistan, India, etc., will only happen if it is present in the home.  And while it may seem as if your children still opt not to ‘speak’ Urdu even after all your efforts, I sincerely believe that it is still very much worth it to continue to converse in Urdu – They may surprise you one day after a visit from a relative or if they happen to visit their homeland and feel compelled to give it a try.  Positive encouragement and an unpressurized setting may be the key.  Children tend to listen (!) and store the words and sounds somewhere in the recesses of their brains – we truly hope they will be able to learn the beautiful language of Urdu.  Good luck!

Interesting reasons why being bilingual or multilingual has so many far flung advantages:

(from the Italian Bilingual School’s site)

WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF LEARNING A SECOND LANGUAGE?

Learning a second language provides a number of advantages, not only for the individual, but society itself.

COMMUNICATION ADVANTAGES
Wider communication (extended family, community, international links, employment)
Literacy in two languages.

CULTURAL ADVANTAGES
Broader cultural understanding and multicultural sensitivity, “two language worlds of experience” (Baker, 2000)
Greater tolerance and social harmony

COGNITIVE ADVANTAGES
Thinking benefits (creativity, sensitivity to communication)
Greater problem-solving and analytical skills

PERSONAL ADVANTAGES
Raised self-esteem
Flexibility and adaptability
Confidence in social interactions
Greater interpersonal skills

CURRICULUM ADVANTAGES
Conceptual development in two languages
Transfer of academic skills across two languages.
Collaborative and cooperative learning

————————-

UPDATED – 2008: The PakXpats site is now: URDU FOR KIDS by the same person.  An excellent site for teaching Urdu to children along with great downloadable material:  https://www.urduforkids.com/DesktopDefault.aspx


For parents wishing to help facilitate their child’s learning of Urdu, I have found and excellent online downloadable teaching resource, PakXpats is now URDU FOR KIDS .  They consist of ‘e-Books’, and are categoried by levels and focus on vocabulary development, letter/alphabet recognition and word and sentence writing.  There are also books on Pakistan studies and Deen. Coloring books for the very young with words are also available.  Do visit as they have a good selection and very easy to access method of use.

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9 Comments »

  1. Hasan Jafri said

    Dear Aisha:

    I thank you so much for the post on teaching Urdu to kids living overseas. The post has given me a lot of pointers and, to some extent, lessen the angst I have felt since little Sara along a year ago. For some reason my mother’s plea to make sure Sara learns Urdu so that “she’s not a foreigner in her own homeland” has forced me to for once in my life take her advice seriously.

    It is hard though. I have lived overseas half my life and because I don’t speak Urdu often myself, I find it difficult to “switch” with ease. The other difficulty is finding literature in Urdu overseas. The link to the “expat” site is just what I needed! We have tons of books and read a lot to Sara but none in Urdu – in fact I have been very disappointed by the quality of literature/music for kids being sold in Pakistan. It’s just a shame.

    Just recently, after many of my mixed-marriage friends with kids warned me with dire consequences did I start to “plan” Sara’s language development. We have a one-person one language plan – kind of. I am trying to speak to her only in Urdu, my wife Lisa in English and a bit of Mandarin (her’s is pretty rusty). Our nanny speaks to her in Tamil. In fact, we try to “expose” her to as many native speakers as we can given that our friends and families range from stiff-upper-lip Brits to Japanese and everywhere in between. We ask guests at home to speak to her in their own language and get thrilled when Sara’s eyes light up when she hears a language or accent she’s not heard before. Ahh the joys of parenthood.

    All we really hope is that Sara will SOMEHOW develop a curiosity – if not love -for languages. It will do her well later in life.

    Thanks again for your post. I’ll look up your blog from time to time.

    Best
    Hasan Jafri

  2. Aisha PZ said

    Thank you Hasan, for your very nice comments. I am certain that given your desire for Sara to learn as many languages as she is exposed to, that she will grow up to become more than bilingual! She is truly lucky to have all that available to her.

    I think it is worth exploring the different ways people teach two languages to very young children. We initially spoke mostly Urdu, and then drifted off with our first child. With our second child, realizing we had made the ‘mistake’ of not being consistent, bombarded him with Urdu…that is all he spoke, then he went into language explosion as our older one spoke to him in English, he watched TV when she watched it in English, and ultimately we fell into the trap again. He is now 2, and is extremely verbal and speaks English in full complete sentences and has inserted all the ‘in’s, the’s, of’s and all now. We are now doing the complete (as much as possible, as they both go to school now) Urdu immersion, and we’ve seen some progress. So, in some senses, we are finding teaching Urdu words now MUCH easiers, as we can say…”how do you say ‘CHAIR’ in Urdu, and they say, “Kursi”. Since they have a whole ready-made set of vocab in English, doing a word for word translation is actually working out in a backwards and unplanned sort of way…so, do spend some time and think about your options and also gauge how your daughter is communicating…is she totally mixing ALL the languages up, or can she make distictions using the OPOL (one parent, one language) method. Take your cues from her and then see what will work best for you all.

    It is a hard job, as we are aware, and the benefits of children learning more than one language are before us. Since that window of opportunity is so limited, that motivates at least us now to really give it our best shot. We are now lucky to have made some nice friends of Pakistani origin (who we have a lot in common with and also get along very well), whose children are growing up here, and speaking primarily English. Our children have become good friends and have a nice comfort level – we recenly have started doing strictly ‘Urdu Only’ playdates, with some language vocabulary ‘instruction’ and game and role playing, allowing the children to repeat after us and each other, new words we throw at them! They have all taken to it well (all the way from the 6 year olds to the 2 year olds!) and were able to give us some undivided attention. We hope that the children will feel more comfortable as time goes on, and in some miraculous way learn that they can use their new ‘words’ with their friends who share their common identity….and not feel self-conscious about it. Let’s see how it goes.

    Again thank you for taking time to read my post and I wish you all the best with regard to Sara’s multilingual adventure.

    APZ

  3. Hasan Jafri said

    So how do the kids know a chair is kursi? Did you actually tell them that a chair is kursi in Urdu or, did you do what we do often: point to something and say what is it in both Urdu and English? The OPOL is good in theory but not so easy in practise: I can speak in Urdu but read to her in English. The music she hears is mostly English but also some Faiz and Nayyara Noor thrown in (my daughter finds Noor soothing). I need to brush up on my Urdu vocab also. And how do you translate silly midoff in URDU!!!!

    Living in the part of the world where you spent your formative years is ideal in some ways because here (but not in Indo-China or Thailand) practically everyone in multilingual and multicultural. If the enviornment around allows the child to think its cool to speak more than one langage it can only be good. Though at this point Sara hasn’t graduated from “papa mama” and “bababababababaaba” so we have time on our side to see how things go.
    I don’t have any like-minded Pakistani friends here (tho have met some whose minds I do not like), so must continue to look for some.

    Best
    H

  4. iFaqeer said

    Towards the end there, I think you were over-thinking it, HJ. The very point of things like what Chomsky, et al say, if I understand it right, is that the way children learn language is intuitive more than structured. You pour it in rather than lay it down in neat blocks.

    In my case, the interesting thing is that both my wife are ourselves people who grew up in foreign countries speaking English with our peers and Urdu at home. In my case, I was born in West Africa, in an expat community that, while it wasn’t a long-term immigrant community, had people in it who spoke an English-heavy mix at home. (Though we were a rare community in that a lot of us youngsters spoke Urdu with each other.) But somehow, while our parents never quite were able to get us to read and write Urdu at, say, a sixth grade level, our spoken Urdu, even when we moved “back” to Pakistan at (in my case) age 17, stood up to anybody. One very strong influence was my dad’s often fun use of the language along the way, laced with quotes from poetry and suchlike. Of course, living in Pakistan for the next 10 years and a personal geeky interest in poetry and language helped.

    Almost every “ABCD” (was 2nd gen folks are sometimes called in the US; American Born Confused Desi) kid in the US understands Urdu or Hindi very well. The difference is in how well and, more importantly, how confidently they speak it. And I have seen families–one young lady in particular, comes to mind, who was, at that point a stockbroker on Wall Street–in which 2nd gen folks speak very fluently. The trick, as we have come to understand it, is to have the *kid* speak it when talking to you. And at this point, particularly in the US, that is something we ourselves are fighting a losing battle–or so it seems–on. And the problem there is that the two of us parents have a tendency to speak to each other in English. [And don’t even go there about my brother and I; we speak a mix of English, Urdu, and, when really mad at each other, Nigerian pidgin English and Hausa–which amuses my now 13-year-old niece no end. And yes, her own facility with Urdu goes up and down with how long grandma’s been visiting and visits to Pakistan.]

    Hope this helps–you might take some comfort from the fact that when I moved back to Pakistan there were only 3 or 4 cuss words that were new to me; and friends like you and a certain Nofil Fawad helped solve that problem really fast.

  5. iFaqeer said

    Oh, and if you want to talk patterns and rules; my own rules for my son (my daughter is up to two word sentences that are often…er…exactly 50% Urdu) are simple ones:

    * One language at a time. No “Milk drink kar lijiyay”.
    * Reply in the language you are spoken to. It is just the polite thing to do.
    * Whichever language you speak, try to speak it right.

    Which often leads to my son hearing things like “Drank; not drinked. Urdu Bolo!”

    And on #2 above, funny thing is, I had to learn that one myself at about 18–when, having had Urdu drilled into my head by expat parents, it took an effort for me to speak English with fellow Pakistanis in Pakistan. Made a career as a part-time English journalist very interesting in the beginning.

  6. S. Zuberi said

    Salaams Aisha,

    I tried to go to the Pakxpats link and it did not work, do you have any other links?

    thanks and was Salaams.

  7. FTK said

    hey every one…
    all this discussion is really interesting and it also shows me that i am not the only one with this concern..

    i have started my web site http://www.sparkaquest.com/
    and i am uploading the material i am making to teach my children urdu language.
    I am making the material alongside home schooling my 3 year old… so the material will come up rather slowly…
    but with all your contributions i think we can make urdu teaching material for our kids just the way we like it..

    please visit the website and leave comments about the books

    Also, about speaking the language… my elder one is 3 yrs and he doesnot goto school yet, so we try to speak urdu as much as possible. When he says some thing in english i reply in the same language, and for vocabulary building if he knows something in english i tell him the word in urdu and vice versa. just my two cents…

    • boundlessmeanderings said

      Thank you for your comments and for sharing your new site – Congratulations! Wish you the best –

      As a note, the old PakXpats site is now Urdu for Kids (https://www.urduforkids.com/DesktopDefault.aspx)

      I know the person personally who has developed this site and his materials are really useful and practical. The Flash Cards are especially nicely done (so you can buy them to use with your child – vs. reinventing the wheel 😉

      Here is the link for the flashcards, which also now come with an interactive CD. Hope this is helpful!

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