Language Games And Activities For Kids To Pick Up The Vernacular

This is a guest post by my wife, Nivedita. She runs an experiential outdoor travel enterprise for kids – Dirty Feet. She gets to interact with lots of children in an informal environment and know them from close quarters when children are chilled out and just being themselves. Basis these real-life experiences, she is penning down thoughts on how to keep children engaged and entertained whilst indoors during the coronavirus lockdown. Here goes one for the language games and activities.

The Backdrop

Dirty Feet has been impressing on the need for kids to explore nature and outdoors and to engage with communities through experiential activities and real-life interactions. As the focus shifts indoors and you explore ways to bond with your kids, we wanted to share some thoughts based on our travel insights which might be handy.

Whilst briefing our young travellers about the Dos and Dont’s on Dirty Feet trips, we always suggest that they speak in the vernacular to the extent possible. This is not just to ensure a connect with the communities who only speak the native language but more so because of our realisation that opportunities for kids to pick up vernacular language skills have been increasingly compromised in recent times.

The most alarming part is the reaction that we get from the kids time and again across all age groups – disinterest and dislike. It is not that they don’t love languages. They take great pride in sharing their foreign language skills. German, French, Spanish have many takers but Hindi, Telugu, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil are frowned upon.

So we thought why not use this family time at home to kindle a love for our home-grown tongues! Sharing with you a list of simple and fun language games and activities which could get you started in vernacular/regional languages.

Ready To Go

1) The game of the ending letter or simply put word antakshari in the vernacular. The first player says a word. The next player picks up the last letter of that word and has to say a word and this goes on. Any number of players can play this game.

2) The start sound game. Say for 30 seconds or a minute, the players in the group, one after the other are required to share words all starting with that letter. Say for instance ka, ki, pa, pu, anything would work.

3) Categories, will you please name some names of………. Clapping and snapping fingers whilst sharing words of a particular category. A game that builds hand-eye coordination, a sense of rhythm, vocabulary and general awareness skills, all in one go. Begin with simple categories and move on to more interesting and whacky ones. Just remember to do all in the vernacular.

4) Multi-language word game. In the first round, the first player says a word in one language and the rest of the players should follow by stating the word in other languages that they are aware of. The second player gets to begin the next round by saying a word in his/her preferred language.

5) Challenge each other to speak for one minute in the local language.

6) Together, try translating English stories into the vernacular or suggest vernacular subtitles for English movies/cartoons; better still play-act a story in the vernacular.

7) Enjoy the rich variety and beauty of rhymes, action songs and folk songs of different languages by learning and singing together

8) Enjoy the bliss of introducing kids to the songs, books, stories, movies in vernacular that you have grown up with. Also what better time than now to encourage them to call up their grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and chat with them in their mother/father tongue(s).

9) Draw out numbers and pictures and tell the names in the vernacular.

10) Roll the dice and make a sentence with that many numbers of words in the vernacular.

11) Read together vernacular storybooks at Pratham and arvindguptatoys.com.

This is just a suggested list to get you started. Trust you are all very resourceful and creative to add many more to this list of language games and activities.

Please do let us know your thoughts. We would love to hear from you.

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