“You were always so good in parenting, then how did you miss this key aspect” my aunt asked me unapologetic-ally.
This conversation is from several years before when my son was just two and we were getting him admitted to a play school. We primarily spoke Hindi to him emphasizing the importance of our regional language (Won’t call it the national language lest I spark a controversy!) It was a common medium of conversation in our household where my husband is a Tamilian and I’m a Punjabi. So Hindi emerged naturally, besides English. Both sets of grandparents also preferred expressing themselves in Hindi. It was also then easier for our son to interact with our house maid.
When my aunt brought this up I realized the limited thinking that we suffer from. Many of us believe (contrary to what we may say publicly) that only if we groom our child right from his first word in the ‘global’ languages will he succeed.
I then started observing friends around me. Many mothers insisted on conversing only in English. I asked them why they were imposing and got various responses like…
“We struggled when we moved from a small city so want our children to be conversant in English”
“All our friends kids speak in English so don’t want him to feel left out”
“We ourselves don’t talk in English much but want our child to impress others”
“They have to go to an English medium school and so we are laying the foundation right from the beginning”
Many proudly said, we want our children to learn French, Japanese, Mandarin and other fancy languages.
Yet, when anyone in the vicinity spoke in their regional language, judgmental eyes stared at them. The common inference was, the person was ‘local’ and didn’t know that English was the correct medium in public.
These responses and reactions made me question why we are not proud of our Indian heritage. The West respects us for the culture and traditions we bring to the table- of which our languages are an integral part. If we are exactly like them then what will excite or attract them towards our country and its people and heritage?
All parents can do what comes naturally to them. I admire those who insist on teaching their regional language like Bengali, Tamil etc. It’s an asset to know multiple languages including the mother tongue and children have the ability to absorb them. At the same time, I am all for learning foreign languages too – but not at the cost of denigrating the richness and diversity India provides.
Don’t obsess over English as they will pick it up in school in any case, just like we all did. Many of us didn’t speak English at home but became fluent in it over time. In fact my 7 year old, who barely spoke in English till he was about 3, is fluent and perhaps more comfortable conversing in English now (again nothing to boast about but it is a fact for this generation).
Let’s strive to make our children proud of their national heritage and take it forward globally. Let’s insist they learn an Indian language along with English or any others that they may choose. A brighter future does not necessarily come from discarding or forgetting our past.
I am taking my blog to the next level with Blogchatter’s #MyFriendAlexa. This is my #Post1 /#Week3 for the campaign.
You can read my previous week’s posts here – 7 different kinds of husbands , Let’s make a SonRise & Inner love in outside hearts (Short Story)