Thursday, July 30, 2009

Language politics

I do not understand what all this hoopla about making state langauge compulsory as the medium of instruction till fourth standard in all schools. I do agree that when one lives in a particular state it is a good practice to try and learn the local language of that state for the purpose of communicating. It makes life easier for our day to day transactions.

The most important thing is first teaching our children our mother tongue. I have come across parents who try hard to teach their children English first, fearing that children might find it difficult when they start going to school . This, I feel, is totally unfounded. Children will anyway learn English once they start going to school. But they will never get a chance to learn their mother tongue if parents do not teach them. Children have an ear for languages and pick it up easily.

It is a different matter that once children learn to speak English and Hindi then their sentences are laced with a mix of different languges as I have seen in my son. He used to speak Konkani which is our mother tongue fluently but now every sentence has English, Hindi , and sometimes even Telugu words in it.

So the question is should we burden our children with having to learn the local language? As it is they have so much to learn these days and it becomes very difficult for them every time to learn a new language. This will be a big problem for children whose parents get transferred frequently. I am sure many of you have gone through this trauma during your school life.

I believe that the mother tongue is something that should be taught by the parents mandatorily. Beyond this, it is best left to the parents to decide the focus of their child's lanuage orientation. But there is absolutely no place here for politics. After all language is a tool to communicate and not to be taken as a political agenda.


Dr. Suhasini said...

I guess there are different view points Shobha.
1) The reason for every state to have the local language as the medium of instruction till fourth standard in all schools is to primarily allow all strata, especially the underprivileged to get basic education.
2)I agree totally with you about the need for parents teaching their mother tongue. I am a much older parent than you are,with a son who just qualified to be a doctor (M.B.,B.S,but my memories of his early school years are still fresh. He studied in Little Flower School, Hyderabad with State syllabus, where, as a rule, everyone had Hindi as the first language till 2nd standard. Telugu (our mother tongue) was started only in the 3rd standard and was limited to understandably to basic vowels, consonants and two - three lettered words and small sentences. We then changed our residence and put him in Jubilee Hills Public school (within Hyderabad) with CBSE syllabus in his 4th standard. They had Telugu way advanced with poems, samasas etc which left us no choice other than leaving out our mother tongue. The Telugu that he can now read is solely from what we had taught him - reading out Chandamama stories!
3) Teaching first English- I get reminded of dog trainers when I hear moms doing that!
(We had a Telugu Daschund you know )!

Shobhana Shenoy said...

Yes Dr.Suhasini,in the rural area local language as a medium is very convenient to use.But the trend even there is enrolling the children in English medium schools as they also feel children have a future if they learn english.
By the way congratulations as U add another Doctor into your family.You must be a a very proud mom.