Mother Tongue Only?

When Chirpy was born I looked around for advises, suggestions from the other mothers who were a little ahead of me by few milestones,I still do. I think it is always better to keep a check on what’s happening around,though not in terms to compare your child’s growth with others’ but just to keep a tab and to be aware of what to expect.

While I was at it, I noticed that one of my friend’s 2 year old can decipher and talk English, Punjabi, Marathi and Hindi. English and Hindi for obvious reasons cause it is commonly used in friends’ and play circle. And my friend is a Maharahstrian married to a Panju so that explains why Marathi and Punjabi both. The multilingual ability of her elder one impresses me and needless to say I’m sure the younger one is going to follow the suit.

After speaking to my friend and checking few websites for info I found out that children have an inborn language acquisition faculty that, during age 18 to 36 months, enables them to develop and productively use large parts of the grammar of the languages they have been exposed to since birth. If they are raised in a multilingual environment, this faculty can be used to acquire more than one language simultaneously.

I’m convinced that children can pick up as many as languages as you expose them to,seeing my own daughter. We talk to Chirpy in 3 languages-Marathi, Hindi and English. But initially when we started talking to her it was but natural in our mother tongue. Then slowly we realized that she is well acquainted with Marathi but does not respond properly to Hindi and English per say. We made a conscious effort to talk to her in these two languages by dividing the job-MIL talks to her in Marathi, Me in English and Husby in Hindi. So that makes her listen to all three at the same time and now I can safely say that she understands these 3 languages well though she has a long way to go!

Today I read an article in DNA Sunday which says talk to your babies in your mother tongue. This article states that over a period of time in order to teach your children other languages to make them competitive the mother tongue is lagging behind and slowly it will diminish.

It also says that teaching kids multiple languages does not impair their intellectual growth. In most cases,the more codes and structures you impart to kids- without confusing them-the sharper they tend to be. Being multilingual can delay age-related mental decline, gives you better ear for languages and better communication skills. 

But there are families that insist on talking to babies only in mother tongue cause other languages can be picked up later. I disagree. Every language is important and must be taught to the child for his/her benefit. I believe in the multilingual teaching method more so now considering the article I mentioned above, my friend’s daughters’ example and now Chirpy too, I think babies are well programmed to receive multiple signals and we must make the most of the opportunity,what say?

P.S. Of course there are different medical cases too like the one I’ve come across in which the baby have had some impairment in hearing and speech skills by birth. As per doctors she could only learn one language and hence her  parents chose English,which is obvious & wise,I guess!

 

Click image to go to the article ‘Blended Kids’

 

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32 thoughts on “Mother Tongue Only?

  1. Are you kidding me? Couldnt you have put this up some time last year when I was worrying about how the brat is speaking total khicidi..well she still is…I actually dont know Scribby..one side of me is like let her learn, the other side is she is not speaking ANY language fully! Hai bhagwan! Mothering I tell you is a very very difficult task !

    Err…Chirpy understands Hindi…she and R seem to have conversed pretty well eh?

    1. RM I understand what you mean when you say R talks in khicahdi…but don’t worry that’s nothing to worry cause that,at this moment,just ensures that she has a good vocab on multiple languages…going forward with conscious efforts from your side she’ll know to not mix languages…

  2. i also read this article somewhere and got confused what to do?
    in my case , my mother tongue is Telugu but i was brought up in Chennai. i don’t how, but i picked both, as i used speak Telugu at home, Tamil outside, English n Hindi in school, later Malayalam from friends and Kannada as i worked in b;lore for 2 years.
    but now, i have moved to Andhra, my daughter is getting exposed just to Telugu. i am not sure how can i introduce other languages to her. she hears to us if we speak in Telugu, but when one of my colleges tried tot talk to her in Tamil, she just walked away from the place as she didn’t understand. that is when i thought i need to talk to her in English at home, so she can respond to my non-Telugu friends too. but my hubby says she is too young for anything. don’t impose anything on her. let things go on as. let her learn things in her on way.
    confused confused..

    1. well I would really suggest you to go ahead and expose her to as many languages right now cause as the human brain grows up it looses the intensity to concentrate on several languages at the same time…I guess you could share the article and such more with your husband and discuss…may be your daughter’s pediatrician can intervene and guide you ?

  3. I understand what you mean.

    One of my cousins’ daughter was spoken to in English, Hindi and Tamil since birth, but she became a tad confused and couldn’t communicate clearly in any one language. The kid started going to play school, and she still spoke in Khichdi language. As per the teacher’s advice, the parents started talking to her only in English and she began responding too. Now, she is about 11 years old and speaks and understands only English – they live in the US. I keep wondering if this situation could have been differently handled and the kid could have been taught to understand and respond to all 3 languages. Maybe my cousin and his wife should have just let some time pass and see how she grasped things?

    1. yeah actually I read somewhere that children speaking in mixed languages is not a concern a child stage however parents should put some efforts to streamline the languages which is not impossible…all it requires is a conscious effort and time to invest in!

  4. We taught my daughter only hindi, the language that we speak at home. I had consciously decided not to teach her english as she will pick that up at school anyway. This was because I had seen some children who spoke to their parents only in english and not their mother tongue. I have been repenting my desicion now for past 1 year because Now I know children are capable of learning more than one language if exposed to them at a young age. She is picking up english now but I really feel that it would have been better had I introduced it to her earlier 😦
    I think it is a very good initiative on your part to expose Chirpy to all the 3 languages.

    1. Earlier even I thought on the same lines that Chirpy would any way pick up Hindi and English going forward so what’s the need to teach her now…but looking at examples around and digging a bit on the subject I realized it’s better to expose children to multiple languages…I’m sure Cheebu will pick up English soon 🙂

  5. I totally agree with you. More the languages a child is exposed to the better, but with daughter, now, its only English that she responds in:( Hopefully that will change when we get to India.

  6. wow…your post came up just at right time…recently i have started worrying about the way we converse with our almost a year old daughter in 3 languages….being a bong, Bengali comes up naturally but most of times mixed with English and everyone else like other kids, maids speak to her in Hindi… and she has started understanding all 3!!!
    even i heard that we should start with one language but was very apprehensive abt the approach as for us all these 3 languages has equal importance…. 🙂

  7. I too second ur thoughts.. My sis’s kid is turning 2. Our MT is Malayalam n they stay at Hydbd now. Her parents speak Malayalam / English at home. Their maid speaks pure Telugu, neighbors speak Tamil. She understands all of this now. N she can respond in Malayalam, English and Telugu..

    And the best part is she knows what language to talk to each person :D. She is on vaccation here at Kerala now. 🙂

  8. Well I can blame my parents now for my lack of learning french and german …

    I think kids are very clever and they do say what they learn in their initial years , they will never learn that much all their life ..

    so I need to visit Chirpy soon after all who will teach her Punjabi … 🙂

  9. Su’s niece from very young age would respond and also learnt talking in Kannada, Hindi, Sanskrit and English. I totally agree that kids are very sharp in grasping the very many languages they are exposed to 🙂

      1. But ya, somehow it still gaves me a better connect when I talk to someone in my Mother tongue. May be bcoz we share that connection with many dear ones from when we were kids 🙂

  10. Aah just something i needed !!! Though am yet to be a mother but u know how one keeps thinking what and how we will do the best things for our kids..and this has always been a confusion…hubby being Telugu, me Oriya and we talking in Hindi at home..i always kept wondering won’t it be a bit too much for the little but thanks to this post of urs..i now can be relieved..the little brains are the smartest indeed 🙂 And that ‘dividing the job’ is a great idea !!! Thanks for this 😀 😀

    1. I’m glad this has come at the right time to help you 🙂 If you want to dig some more on the Internet you’ll get to know how kids’ brain processes any information coming their way and they indeed are the smartest 🙂

  11. Off topic…We learned Hindi and English from school and Bengali at home. Mom always insisted on speaking pure Bengali at home (no mix of Hindi) and I wish to continue that to preserve the language. Adults speaking Hindi and Bengali mix really offend my ears!

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