Tag Archives: mother tongue

During Quarantine, Children Return to Their Mother Tongue

“With schools and day cares closed, previously dominant languages — such as English in Britain and the United States — are no longer as overpowering. Instead, children are hearing more of their parents’ mother tongues.”S. Hardach, The New York Times

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post with Answer Key

credit- adzuna.co blog

Excerpt:In Quarantine, Kids Pick Up Parents’ Mother Tongues,By Sophie Hardach, The New York Times

“A few days into the lockdown here in London, I noticed a surprising side-effect of the pandemic: My 3-year-old son was speaking more German.

German is my mother tongue, and I have used it with him since he was born, but because everyone around us speaks English, including my British husband, we settled into a pattern typical of mixed families. I spoke to my son in German, and he replied in English. Then Covid-19 reshuffled our linguistic deck. As all of us quarantined at home, my son embraced German with unprecedented enthusiasm. Now, almost six months on, it has become his preferred language. In a complete reversal, he even replies to my husband in German.

My experience is far from unique. All over the world, Covid-19 has forced children to stay inside. In some homes where different languages coexist, this is changing how they speak… children are hearing more of their parents’ mother tongues…Before the lockdown, the children tended to use the dominant languages: English in Britain and Ireland, and Norwegian in Norway (plus English, thanks to television, computer games and other media)… School plays a crucial role with this; in a study of 200 Korean-American families, the portion of firstborn children who spoke Korean to their parents went from almost 80 percent to 34 percent after starting school. Younger siblings spoke even less.

For parents, that sudden rejection of the mother tongue can be bewildering and even painful… In the United States, researchers interested in language have launched an app called KidTalk to gather recordings made before and during Covid-19. Yi Ting Huang, Ph.D., an associate professor in the Department of Hearing and Speech Sciences at the University of Maryland, and Joshua Hartshorne, Ph.D., an assistant professor of psychology at Boston College, have recruited more than 300 families, about a third of which are multilingual, for the project… Dr. Huang plans to use speech-recognition software to analyze the recordings; for example, identifying the number of speakers and languages in each conversation, and tracking any changes…n the past, Dr. Huang said, many researchers and policymakers viewed a child as a water glass that could only hold so much liquid.

‘So we’re just trying to cram as much of one language as opposed to another language,’ she said…Dr. Hartshorne and his partner are also raising their daughter in English and Mandarin, but they have seen the opposite effect…’As the weeks have worn on, we’ve worn down.’ English has become the family’s default language, though the daughter still understands Mandarin…Will all these languages continue to blossom after Covid-19? It’s hard to say.

Some researchers expected children to revert to the dominant language once life returns to normal. Others saw the possibility of a virtuous cycle, with children growing more confident in their second language and using it more in the long run.”

“On the first day of Hispanic Heritage Month, Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden went down to Florida in an attempt to help secure the Latino vote in November.”

“I’ll tell you what, if I had the talent of any one of these people, I’d be elected president by acclamation,” ~Democratic Presidential Leader Joe Biden~

Biden was referring toLuis Fonsi  [the artist who performed the Spanish song ‘Despacito’] as well as singer Ricky Martin and actress Eva Longoria, who also spoke ahead of Biden in Kissimmee, Florida.”Ed O’Keefe reports.

Election 2020: What to know

How to vote:Find out the rules in your state. Some states have already started sending out mail ballots; see how to make sure yours counts. Absentee and mail ballots are two terms for the same thing, mostly used interchangeably. Barring a landslide, we may not have a result in the presidential election on Nov. 3.

Electoral college map: Who actually votes, and who do they vote for? Explore how shifts in turnout and voting patterns for key demographic groups could affect the presidential race.

Battlegrounds: Want to understand the swing states? Read about Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Florida and Pennsylvania, and sign up for The Trailer and get more states, plus more news and insight from the trail, in your inbox three days a week.

Coming up: Trump and Biden are scheduled to debate three times this fall; here’s what to know about the 2020 presidential debates.


A state-by-state guide to voting in the age of COVID-19 By Nathaniel Rakich and Julia Wolfe Click on your state in the map to see a lot of the information you need in order to cast a ballot this fall — by whatever method you choose. This page will be updated on a regular basis with the latest developments.


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg
August 10, 1993 – September 18, 2020

Justice Ruth Bader GinsburgAugust 10, 1993 – September 18, 2020

Rest In Love and Peace ESL-Voices

ESL Voices Lesson Plan for this post

NOTE: Lessons can also be used with native English speakers.

Level: Intermediate – Advanced

Language Skills: Reading, writing, and speaking. Vocabulary and grammar activities are included.

Time: Approximately 2 hours.

Materials: Student handout (from this lesson) and access to news article.

Objective: Students will read and discuss the article
with a focus on improving reading comprehension and improving oral skills. At the end of the lesson students will express their personal views on the topic through group work and writing.

Pre-reading:  Predictions: Analyzing headings and photos

Directions: Examine the titles of the post and the actual article.  Examine any photos, then create a list of  words and  ideas  that you  and your group members think might be related to this article. 

II. While Reading Activities

Word Inference

Directions: Try to infer the meanings of the words in bold taken from the article. You use a dictionary, thesaurus, and Word Chart for assistance.

Vocabulary Cluster By Learnnc.org

  1. German is my mother tongue.
  2. The Covid-19 reshuffled our linguistic deck.
  3. All of us are quarantined at home.
  4. My son embraced German  with unprecedented enthusiasm.
  5. My experience is far from unique.
  6. In some homes where different languages coexist, this is changing how they speak.
  7. Dr. Serratrice surveyed the language habits of over 700 multilingual families.
  8. Unless parents take extra measures, the ancestral sound may fade.
  9. For some parents, the school closures are an opportunity to challenge bigger linguistic hierarchies.
  10. Amid the upheaval of Covid-19, kids might be turning to a reassuring language that they associate with parents.  

Grammar Focus: Word -Recognition

Directions: Students choose the correct word to complete the sentences taken from the article.

The parents in/on these family/families spoke/spoken  more than 40 different mother tongues, including French,  Spanish, Hindi, Urdu, Kirundi and Zulu.

Before a/the lockdown, the/an children tended to/too use the dominant languages: English in/on Britain and Ireland, and/an Norwegian in Norway (plus English, thank/thanks too/to television, computer games and another/other media).

Identify The  Speakers

Directions: Read the following quotes from speakers in the article. Then identify the speakers.

  1. “They’re put into this little hothouse of less English, more other languages.”
  2. “When you think about living in a different country and raising your child in your native language, some people think, ‘Oh, it’s the most natural thing and it’s easy,’ because it’s your native language. And that couldn’t be further from the truth.”
  3. “…not all respondents saw their native tongue strengthen. Some even said it was suffering because they were home-schooling the children in Norwegian.”
  4. “Language is a living marker of history and cultural identity, linking immigrant families to their place of origin.”
  5. “I don’t know that we’ve had recent historical precedent for a child’s world to be shrunk down to just the immediate family for months at a time.”
  6. “More than 42 Indigenous languages are spoken in Uganda, but formal education is delivered in English, a legacy of colonialism…the local language Luganda  has gained strength during lockdown.

Graphic Organizers: Finding The Main Idea

Directions:  Have students use this graphic organizer to assist them with  discussing  or writing about  the main points from the article.

Advanced Spider map By writedesignonline


Discussion Questions for Comprehension /Writing

Directions: Have students discuss the following questions/statements. Afterwards,  students share their thoughts as a class. To reinforce the ideas, students can write an essay on one of the topics mentioned.

  1. Besides English, how many other languages do you speak?
  2. If English is not your first language, do you speak your first language at home?
  3. Why are children speaking  more of their first language now?
  4. Why does the author state her  experience is  ‘far from unique’?
  5. Why aren’t children hearing more English during Covid-19?
  6. According to the article, why does the language of the home becomes less and less important to young children?
  7. In general, how do parents feel when their kids stop speaking their mother tongue?
  8. The article states, ‘This echoes research suggesting that passing on one’s language can create better communication between generations and a shared identity and heritage.’  In your own words explain what this means.
  9. What language did Dr. Huang speak as a child? Why did she go back to speaking it as an adult?
  10. Write down one new idea  you’ve learned from this reading.


Directions: In 5 minutes to write down three new ideas you’ve learned about the topic from the reading ,two things that you did not understand in the reading, and one thing you would like to know that the article did not mention. Review the responses as a class.