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We cannot force a language on our child. But we can make it easy for our child to be convinced to speak it, learn it, like it, love it.
My younger son came home from school yesterday and showed me a form and said that his teacher had told him that they will have a third language from the new academic year and he has to choose from the available options given in the form.
I looked at the form and told him we would discuss about it and decide. He was looking at me with a strange expression. I knew what was going on in his mind but I did not want to talk to him at that time because he just returned from school and he must be hungry. I told him to go and have a wash. He did not move from there. He said, “Mom, I am not choosing Telugu as my third language.”
I smiled and said, “Ok, as you wish. Now go for a wash”.
I think he was prepared for an argument but did not know how to react when I gave in so easily. He smiled and went into his room.
Later, that evening, after finishing his home work, I told him to get the form. I told him that I would not force him to do anything which he did not want, but I asked him why he did not want to learn Telugu, which is his mother tongue.
He said that his friends told him that Telugu is difficult and French, the other option offered in school, is very easy.
I asked him what he would think of a French man who knew English and Hindi but not French. He laughed and said, “How can a French man not know French?”
I said, “just like how a Telugu boy does not know Telugu”.
He was silent. I told him that every language is beautiful and he should learn as many languages as he can, depending on his interests, but he should start with his own mother tongue. I said, “I am here to tell you everything about Telugu, but how will you tell your kids if you don’t know about it?”
I continued, “I don’t want you to think about the marks you will get by learning Telugu. That is not important. I am very happy that your school is giving you an opportunity to learn the language.”
Language is a road map of a culture. It tells you where you are from.
I told him, “Your mother tongue is your identity. It shapes you”.
I said that I would always help him with the language and said that since we anyway speak Telugu at home it would not be difficult for him to learn.
He looked happy and ticked the box that said Telugu in the form.
You can’t make your child speak a language. However, you can set the stage so that they will want to speak it.
A version of this was first published here.
Image source: shutterstock
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