ENGLISH OR HINDI?

  By Sunita Rajiv

It’s an unwritten expectation that a child studying in a public school is expected to converse fluently in English. This expectation gains dimensions with every passing year and the teachers take up this uphill task as a challenge. Workshops are organized, activities are designed, motivational lectures are given to teach the so called ‘second language’, which is successfully reigning as the accepted medium for more than five subjects. Still the goal is not achieved; it lures both the learner and the facilitator endlessly.

The student, caught in the horns of dilemma of ‘English or Hindi?’ finds himself jack of both and master of none. The mother speaks the mother tongue but insists he converses in English. The teachers stress on the usage of a language which is still an unconquered fort for them. Still when he musters up enough courage and ventures into this little familiar territory, he is laughed at by his peers who see him as a crow trying to pose a peacock. A stranger in both the worlds, he finds himself asking the meaning of a Hindi word [often seeking a synonym in English] and feels contented only if the English poem is explained to him in Hindi.

 On being asked as to who would like to participate in the assembly, the answer is a question “Is the assembly in English or Hindi?”If the answer is the latter one, hands go down and the few who ‘dare’ are found being laughed at. Their acceptance is viewed more as their failure to master the Queen’s language than their proficiency in the mother tongue. Hence, they sheepishly fight their urge to remain steadfast in their decision, holding on to their self esteem as their pool of inspiration. It’s considered a matter of shame by most students that they should be considered ‘not – so –proficient ‘in English because respect can be commanded only by being the champions of English.

Another revelation— students have the English alphabet on their tips. On being asked the number, “twenty six” comes the pert reply. But ever try asking the Hindi alphabet. Neither the number nor the order can be recalled by any of them. The quizzical looks betray their ignorance on one hand and seem to doubt your intentions on the other.’ The Paradise Lost’ is not the lost knowledge of their mother tongue but the loss of respect and of willingness to learn the language. In our race to learn English, we have somehow developed a low opinion and esteem of our mother tongue and this gene has been passed on too, to the coming generations. A Japanese, a German or a Chinese never shirks away from expressing himself in his mother tongue, why do we?

What we need to understand is that language is a tool in our hands that enables us to express ourselves correctly, emphatically and impressively. Because all the technological tsunamis have originated from the west, doesn’t mean that we should lose the grip on our language and culture. Our aim should be to plant our feet steadfastly into our soil and strive for the stars. Our hearts are big enough to hold both Kalidas and Shakespeare in high esteem. Let’s understand that our success lies in excelling at both the languages with equal dedication.

 If we have two eyes, we use both .If we have two hands, we use both. If we are blessed with two languages why can’t we be proficient in both? Language bridges the gaps between nations and hearts. If we take pride in our language and heritage, there is no reason why the children won’t follow our example. For if I can’t love my mother, how can I love someone else’s mother?

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About sunitarajiv2009

A learner at heart..........who believes that God made children to teach us the subtle message of life.
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7 Responses to ENGLISH OR HINDI?

  1. Tina Chopra says:

    Very nice lines, the influence of our mother tongue should be equally important than any other language.

  2. sivaram61 says:

    Very well said, Sunita ji. I have come across parents who have insisted on talking to growing up children only in mother tongue, one day a week….this was a case of working parents….father took this initiative and today the child is fluent in her mother tongue as well. Schools must equally encourage children to speak in the rashtra bhasha as well. Actually additional languages opens up other avenues like access to books and material written in those languages and that adds to the personality and knowledge of children. This is doable and needs to be done. Keep up this good out of the box thinking going, Madam 🙂 Sivaram

    • I am so lucky to have a distinguished visitor like you. Thank you so much Sir, we are deeply disturbed by the blind following being done by us. Let’s excel in both, in hindi for my nation and my learning and in english ,to connect with the world.

  3. arv! says:

    Well nailed! It’s a legacy of colonial years! English speaking, gori skin, foreign travels, Iphone owner… it all translates into a better/ superior person in Indian society. These are just few examples and are not exhaustive. God knows when will we come out of these false ‘enhancers ‘ and be more comfortable with our real selves! Great post

    • Thanks for voicing that Arv Sir!As an educationist I have come across many scholars who suffer from similar complex and find solace in using only one language that makes them’respectable’in the eyes of others.
      How to bring the glory back to Hindi when the hindustanis dont respect it much.

      • arv! says:

        It’s a difficult problem which has been compounded by glamour of globalization. unfortunately, the youth is shedding our culture at much faster pace to adopt ‘imported ‘ commercial culture. Unless we use our brain and judge the situation we can’t get out of this trap! We are fortunate that we have PM who is proud of our language and very good orator too!

  4. sivaram61 says:

    Start with small exercises….particularly when students are asked to stand up and speak on stage for various things…. when they have to speak three to four sentences, ask them to come prepared and translate what they said in Hindi as well….

    One possible exercise In classes, ask students to speak about themselves about 10 sentences …and ask them translate in Hindi as well…it can be a weekly exercise in rotation bring all students.

    In each middle and above class, allot some 10 marks or some other incentive for this and reflect in the report card….Push this straight away….School is the best way to push for this…Children will continuously get exposed to western culture….it is for us to pull them and keep on track!

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