Of the many languages that children are born with, the verbal is the most prized by society. As parents, we are in a hurry to teach our children to talk. We want them to have a rich repertoire of words and for them to use their vocabulary appropriately. Since most of us are not linguists, but like to read parenting and self-help books, we ensure that our child reaches not just the milestones specific for his age group but also masters those appropriate for the next developmental stage as well. As a result, we have verbally articulate kids all around us, and they grow up into adults who can speak confidently almost all the time that they are awake.
Last year around this time, my then two-and-a-half interpersonal son was fluent in English and a beginner in French as a result of his environs in Canada. One year in India and Hindi has joined ranks with English as his receptive language. In this short one year, Hindi has been elevated to the status of his primary expressive language. If I did not understand the nuances (more to do with the “how” than the “what”) of language development and the concept of whole language, I would lament at the development of one language (Hindi) at the expense of the other (English) at an age when children can learn multiple languages simultaneously.
In this context, a few observation/perceptions come to fore:
- We tend to overemphasise verbal language, marginalizing the expressions of non-verbal or intrapersonal people. In societies like ours, we forget that language is one of the vehicles of ideas with functional, expressive and aesthetic purpose; it is not the only one. People express themselves in mannerism, art, music, dance, touch, etc – the list is endless. Sadly true, our over-dependence on the aural is at the expense of the visual and other sensorial receptions. Do we teach our children how to understand and interpret these languages?
- There seems to be a perceptible hierarchy of languages. Acquisition of certain languages is valued over others. For instance, in India, we want our children to speak English as native speakers. Realistically speaking, the environment of our preschoolers and early language learners is rich in vernaculars, be it the domestic help at home with whom they spend long hours in the absence of their parents, or didis in preschools who are their primary teachers both within and outside the classrooms. Learning of a language is a social process and the environment is a key determinant. Is it realistic to believe that pre-schoolers in countries that largely speak languages other than English, like India, are socially immersed in English?
- A fascination for a particular language is so strong that we ignore metacognitive aspects of language learning. The expressive language should clearly and coherently reflect the thought process. Our main concern for preschoolers should not be “what” language they use but “how” well they are able to construct that language to align with their thoughts. The proficiency with the “how” is going to be the linguistic base and the learning pattern that the brain will follow for the acquisition of other languages. Isn’t proficiency in one verbal language, irrespective of which one it is, an indicator of success in new language acquisition?
Our first language is part of our personal, social and cultural identity. Maintaining first language is a vital factor in the educational development of your child. It doesn’t matter which one it is as long as he is well grounded in that language; because language has more to do with functions of the brain than social projection and pretensions.
|< Prev||Next >|
NYC celebrates 150th anniversary of 'Alice in Wonderland'
NEW YORK (AP) — New York City is marking the 150th anniversary of "Alice in Wonderland" with an array of events celebrating the adventures and characters in the beloved children's tale.
Students get tutoring, encouragement at Santa Ana PAAL program
Education Secretary Arne Duncan steps down after 7-year term
WASHINGTON (AP) — Arne Duncan, who followed President Barack Obama to Washington to serve as his education secretary, announced Friday he will step down following a seven-year tenure marked by a willingness to plunge head-on into the heated debate about the government's role in education.
Acting education secretary says teachers saved him
Arne Duncan to resign: Who will head Department of Education?
Arne Duncan, one of President Obama's longest-serving advisors announced Friday that he will step down in December. Education Secretary Duncan sent an email to his staff saying that he is moving back to Chicago to live with his family. With the departure, Mr. Obama is losing one of his remaining original cabinet members.
Cairo University bans teachers from wearing face veil
CAIRO (AP) — The recent decision to ban all female staff from wearing the full face veil aims to put an end to student complaints of "poor communication" in class, the head of Egypt's Cairo University said Friday.
Man charged in deaths of 2 Virginia college students gets 3 life sentences in 2005 sex assault
FAIRFAX, Va. (AP) — Man charged in deaths of 2 Virginia college students gets 3 life sentences in 2005 sex assault.
Sensitive student data at risk on top college websites
In one of the most glaring recent examples, some 80,000 students of the California State University system had personal data exposed in an early September breach. Cal State has plenty of company, too. Using the website encryption analysis tool SSL Labs, Passcode analyzed sites for the eight Ivy League schools and top eight public schools as ranked by US News & World Report to determine which schools employ HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS), a security measure that ensures students connect only to secure versions of their school's site.
Education Secretary Arne Duncan stepping down
AP sources: Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step down in December
WASHINGTON (AP) — AP sources: Education Secretary Arne Duncan to step down in December.