A, An, The
…articles from the English language.
English: ‘The’ language that is not our own yet everybody here wants to flaunt it thinking it is a prestigious status symbol.
I finished my school education from an English medium school where even the plants, trees, fans and desks spoke to us in English – leave apart the teachers and students. I literally ate in English, drank in English and slept in English – all throughout my school life.
Throughout my years of growing up, I was taught – not by my parents or teachers or friends or anyone in particular – but by the incidents and experiences that happened with me in general – that speaking in fluent English is a must have and this is something one can’t do without. I was also told that not knowing ‘good and correct’ English is criminal and I will be looked down upon if I converse in any language other than English in a public place. English was portrayed as the cool, happening and in-thing!
About a decade later
I became a Mom and conversing with the baby came naturally to me – as naturally as it comes to all new Moms! Since I speak Marathi, apart from Hindi and English, the question of ‘which language should I talk to my baby in’ arose in front of me.
As the trend is, I immediately Googled it and found through a trusted website that when the question of raising a multi-lingual child arises, the parents and the other members of the family should fix upon one language each and talk to the child in only that language. This way, the child gets less confused and picks up a particular language quickly. I found it really easy to follow and immediately publicly announced to the members of my family the details of my ‘who’s-supposed-to-take-up-which-language’ plan.
Without any second thoughts, I took up ‘English’! I assigned Marathi to my son’s grandparents, great grandfather and aunt and since I had already taken up ‘English’ and my husband is not too comfortable with ‘Marathi’, I assigned ‘Hindi’ to him!
Soon we all became comfortable speaking in our own languages with him.
Months flew by and my son grew 2.3 years old. That’s when I thought it’s time for him to head to a play school. All things fell into place and he adjusted himself to the new life in a month’s time. About 3-4 months after this, I got the privilege to attend the first PTM of my child’s school life and I can’t really express in words how excited I was about it!
The PTM finally happened and as ‘dreamed’ my son’s teacher gave us a pleasant review of his. His teacher asked us if there was anything we had to say and I told her,
“I want Pratap to speak English!”
I told her about how I always speak to him in English, all the time, so that he learns up this language quickly and how I want him to be fluent in English right from this age!
His teacher, who is also a Mom to two grown-up girls then shared an interesting anecdote with us. She shared her experience of how she too wanted her girls to always speak in English and be extremely fluent with the language. Soon after her girls started going to school and got exposed to the other kids at school, all they spoke in was in ‘English!’ She then told us how, now, she has to be after her girls all the time, to speak in ‘Hindi’ with ‘at least’ their grandparents!
What the teacher told us later was,
“Why do you need to hurry to teach him English? Let him learn it at his own pace!”
That was the day, that made me think if I really wanted him to pressurize to learn or speak in English right from this young an age? Is it really worth it? Shouldn’t I be speaking to him in ‘Hindi’ and ‘Marathi’ rather, as these are the languages that he won’t get to learn in school!
Since then, I gave up my craze (yes, that’s exactly what I would call it) of hearing my son speak in English and spoke to him in whichever language came to me naturally while talking to him! While cuddling and coochie-cooing him Marathi comes to me naturally, while instructing or talking sternly to him ‘English’ does and when in front of others – I prefer speaking to him in Hindi!
So, all in all, it doesn’t matter whether a child speaks in Hindi, English, Marathi or any other language on this earth. What is important is the content he comes up with! What if a child expresses anger or abuses in English? What use is it of, then?
Also, there is one big realization that happened to me while solving this language dilemma:
So, whether it’s A, An, The or अ , आ , इ , ई ; does it really matter?