Mom : I have a wish
God : Tell me, I am there
Mom : I want to get a good night’s sleep!
God : You can’t! Find a new wish
Most Indians are bilingual by birth speaking Hindi and English. India is rich with plethora of languages and dialects and I come from a multilingual family speaking Bangla, English and Hindi.
With Inaaya, both my husband and I took one language each (Bangla and English) and used them clean for making any conversation from day 1. She has been given equal number of Bangla and English reading books as well for more exposure.
Result? Inaaya is 16 months now and comprehends both the languages well. Besides, the first monosyllables (both the languages) she spoke were clean as well.
These days amongst all the languages, english is given a lot of importance due to globalisation. In my years of teaching, I noticed kids losing touch of their mother tongue and native language. Do you know why?
Parents and education system doesn’t give equal importance to the native language. Non-English speakers are looked down upon while clean-English speakers are considered an ideogram of class, stature and good education.
But what’s the point of learning any other language than the global one?
Studies suggest that learning more than one language increases the brain activity. While reading English text, only Left-hemisphere of our brain is active, whereas reading Hindi text with matra’s uses both the left and right hemispheres.
In India, school children are taught to read both English and Hindi as first language with additional languages viz. Sanskrit, French, German etc as second language, making their brain more active than children from other parts of the world that only use alphabetic script.
So Summing up:-
- If you want to raise a bilingual child, introduce the second language as early as possible (even before the first year).
- It’s never too late or too early to introduce a language if you want to.
- Do converse in native language alongside.
- Children will make mistakes while speaking, don’t stop them in between. You can always correct them after the sentence.
- Books are a great option to give them more exposure.
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