Why ditch Hindi to become global?

“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)


28 thoughts on “Why ditch Hindi to become global?

  1. Totally agree with you, Prerna. Thanks for penning this, I myself have been planning to write on these lines for quite a while. I know how parents boast about their kids speaking other foreign languages but Hindi or for that matter their regional language, which I do not understand at all. What’s the shame? Very Well put.

    1. Absolutely! I’m glad my thoughts resonated with you and you could relate to this sentiment. I will look forward to your write up on this piece as well!

  2. I completely agree with you Prerna. If our kids can learn any foreign language then why not their own language. Whats so big deal about it? I have been living in the USA from 13 years. Both my kids are US citizens but they speak fluent Hindi, Marathi. I have been asked this question several times from other parents that how did I managed to maintain the discipline and how come my kids speak comfortably their regional languages. My answer to them is I never taught them English. My main focus was to teach them rather making them comfortable and confident with Marathi and Hindi. And today, I can proudly say that they are tri-lingual kids.

    1. Your story is inspirational Alpana and promotes the sentiment I am trying to convey through this article. Your are doing a great job raising them. Keep it going! The point ids if we can let them opt for foreign languages in school then why not Hindi or a regional language?

  3. मैं बिलकुल सहमत हूँ आपकी बात से, हिंदी मेरा अभिमान है.
    हिंदी एक बहुत सूंदर भाषा है और हमारी राष्ट्रीय भाषा भी जिस पर हमे गर्व होना चाहिए
    अपनी मातृभाषा और राष्ट्रभाषा हमे आनी ही चाहिए और अपने बच्चो को ये सीख हमसे बेहतर कोई नहीं दे सकता.
    #PraGunReads #MyFriendAlexa

  4. I was raised partly in Balasre, Orissa and party in Kanpur, UP. I was sent to Kolkata, West Bengal, because my parents felt I was not learning enough of Bengali. One thing of Bengali education was my written English and composition strengthened. My spoken English was not good. I came to Delhi after High School. I could converse in Hindi but not confident in spoken English. My pronunciation had heavy Bengali tinge. Gradually, things changed. I went abroad for higher studies. English was the only means of communication. I managed. I agree that a kid can pickup English as demand increases. But there is no doubt there will be a sense of insecurity, if he cannot speak English with his peers. Dislike as much as we like, English is still the global language and we must know how to converse in this language. That does not mean that we should ignore mother tongue. Trick is how to be reasonably proficient in both.

    1. Thanks for sharing your personal story and engaging with my write-up. You got it absolutely right. English is important in today’s world but I’m hoping our children can also learn a regional language along with it.

  5. Strongly agree with you Prerna, this is very unfortunate to see Hindi as low grade language in comparison of English, I am not questioning on the importance of English language it is necessary to survive in the outer world, importance of local language shouldn’t be ignored by the parents /schools/colleges.

  6. Totally with you. We must teach our child our mother tongue. Not knowing that is a shame. Unfortunately, many.people are proud that they and their children speak in English. When we were young, my grandma insisted that we speak only Tamil(our mother tongue) though we lived in Kolkata. Now we are conversant in Tamil, English and Bengali too.

  7. I myself know 4 languages and am fluent in all of them of which 3 are regional and 1 global. I feel this is an asset and everyone should try to learn even more languages as that opens up the brain. English is also very important for confidence in a universal aspect.

  8. I am happy I read this today, we really need to make our kids learn and understand the importance of our language Hindi. Learnings others languages is good but one should respect our mother tongue too

  9. The English language is like the need of this hour. At the same time, regional language is so important for today’s generation. I feel so proud to be born and brought up in India where every language has its own importance.
    #MyFriendAlexa #vigorousreads

  10. There’s nothing wrong with learning Hindi, regional languages, foreign languages, all of it. Language, like most other things, has been overtaken by politics. I think that’s the saddest thing.

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