Family language exchange

My father and I sharing a new language with each other through flashcards.

I used to help my father learn French via informal conversations. We would talk and pick words or phrases that might be useful to learn, then make flashcards in Kommit to review over time (one side French, the other in English). He learned a lot just by repeating phrases through regular meetings with me and reviewing cards with the app. I also did this while teaching languages to friends.

After a while, we took it to a new level to make it less one-sided and also to reconnect with our cultural heritage. If you aren’t aware, it’s common that people from India speak English at home, even amongst each other, despite having other mother tongues. This happens for various reasons, but the result is that parents don’t pass it on to their children, tending to favour more ‘useful’ languages like English, and the younger generation (like me) grows up without speaking it. As a way to push against this we changed from French-English cards to French-Hindi cards: this way we can both learn from each other while keeping alive an important link to our past.

For our first session, I invited my whole family and recorded the video call for anyone who couldn’t make it. The result was a pretty fruitful experience, with a sense that all participants (including myself) are equally students—this feels potent, powerful, and productive. It’s also just fun, like playing a game together, and works even during a pandemic.

I would encourage other people to try this. I was overwhelmed sometimes figuring out how to organize everything, but maybe as the process becomes more clear, and if those present approve, I might share a video in the future to help show how this all works.

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