Regional languages take a backseat as craze for English continues to grow
Thane: An otherwise talkative eight-year-old Prasad often finds himself tongue-tied when he goes visiting his country cousins down south in a hamlet near Mangalore. The reason Prasad goes on a silent mode is his inability to converse in his native Tulu language which has never been introduced in his Mumbai home where the conversation is mostly in English or to a certain extent Hindi.
Prasad is a representative of one of the thousands of the next generation children who have never been introduced to their respective native language and all that they have grasped since birth is their parents communicating with them in English. Experts blame the increasing drive among parents to make their children communicate easily with the outside world is unknowingly isolating the native dialects while foreign languages, especially English, have started becoming the new mother tongue in many families now.
Experts say the trend of families from cosmopolitan metros like Thane, Mumbai and Navi Mumbai that communicate effortlessly in English or Hindi within their respective socially and professional circles is rising and has unknowingly percolated to their next generation who now find it easier to communicate in alien languages, with English being the preferred choice mostly.
“Parents seem to be allowing the mother tongue to take a backseat in an effort to make their children more compatible with the needs of current times and connect with the society,” observes an expert.
The drive to make kids more receptive towards the competitive world is also pushing many parents to communicate with their children in English or global languages rather than their native dialect. Take for instance the Raisinghani family from Thane who have not introduced their next generation to Sindhi, but instead speaks in Hindi or English.
“Our generation has never communicated with parents in our mother tongue. We were told it would be easier for us to blend if we speak in English or Hindi as it could help us connect well with the outer world,” says a 24-year-old family member. The earnestness towards inculcating the foreign language among children is so intense that often parents start communicating with their babies in English rather than their native language.
Another main reason, experts say, is the nuclear modern day families where the elder generation that usually makes it a point to ingrain their traditional dialect in newborns is absent. With parents following a hectic professional schedule and children often spending more time with their peer groups, it is more likely the youngsters develop a closer bonding with the foreign languages other than their mother tongues. Earlier grandparents could ensure the children were introduced to their native language but the focus today is more towards communicating with the outside world than their respective culture, says a sociologist.
A Konkani speaking Navi Mumbai couple now migrated to Singapore have introduced their four-year-old daughter to English so that it keeps her connected with her playmates who also interact in the same language and also hope she is able to grasp her lessons better in the future. It is imperative that she understands the common language better when interacting with her friends. We do feel bad when she is unable to interact in our mother tongue with our relatives but are now trying to teach her the same, echoes the family.
An educationist says that one reason towards the growing trend of kids being kept away from native languages is the lack of adequate education facilities in the respective dialects and also global media being overtly disseminating knowledge only in English barring instances of limited vernacular literary exposure.
A shopkeeper from Dadar who deals in early learning paraphernalia says the demand for the A-Z alphabet chart dominates the humble Devnagari ‘baarakhadi’ chart. There is barely any educational chart in regional languages available in the market, he says. Of late, English lullabies and rhymes have rapidly replaced the tradition folk songs, further alienating the youngsters from their native connect
An expert says, English, is technically not the first language in India but is often perceived as more of a status for most Indians and while parents realize it’s important for their child to know it, they should always remember that the native language is important