How does Mother Tongue influence Learning?
Posted on: September 1, 2017.

Author: Chandrasekar B, parent of PSBB, Chennai

Learning in one’s mother tongue is essential, not simply in terms of emotions, but purely on scientific grounds.

According to anthropologists, human being are distinguished from primitives by the ability to think logically, reason critically, and communicate thoughts by articulating it into speech. Learning converts information into knowledge, and language helps to communicate and apply that knowledge.

All thoughts are in words and all words are in a language. Words make the cohesive thought process possible. All thoughts, ideas and concepts are built upon a strong foundation in language, which facilitates a grasp of words and command over communication.

Children learn every word from birth, only in their mother tongue, along with its background, history, and linkages, unconsciously. The developing brain naturally and effortlessly imbibes a lot of meaning only from the immediate social environment. Otherwise, determined effort is required to gain expertise in a foreign language with all its idioms, figures of speech, colloquialisms, and relevant history, which is highly unlikely in the early developmental stages of a child’s brain. The confidence to think and express can be rendered to children only by their mother tongue, over which they have a natural command that facilitates spontaneous expression.

With evolution in linguistic expression, stories, fables, narration and description grew beyond previously known boundaries as words and language blossomed. Grammar evolved to make language more expressive, efficient, and precise. Names were expressed as nouns, functions were denoted by verbs, and characters were described by adjectives, as narration transformed into description, and new words were invented and absorbed from other languages.

Carrying with it, reflecting, and imbibing every little detail in its journey through time and history, languages became as relevant as the genetic code itself, and were no longer mere strings of alphabets or a series of words—they could sing, dance, paint portraits, conjure vivid images, and became multidimensional in terms of meanings. Words became the sole means to communicate history, social relations, and native emotions.

Furthermore, in their progressive journey through time, languages acquired a whole new spectrum of hues and refinements to describe a character or situation, to add emotion, humor, and to evoke feelings. Evolution in desired effect, mood, and so on, was rendered by figures of speech, which catered to the needs of writers, poets and speakers who became the sculptors of a language. Rather than language limiting the thought or expression of humans, we had finally gotten control over the language, and history, religion, mythology, stories, and fables all became part of our cultural being.

It is established, unwavering fact that a strong foundation in language, quintessentially in our mother tongue, has to be laid in children by the age of 6 years and consolidated by the time they are 12 years old. The point being emphasized here is that it is dangerous and irresponsible to experiment with the linguistic training of children with half-baked information and narrow, thoughtless and short-sighted educational policies.

Have you heard that the medium of instruction in top 20 countries with highest GDP in the world is their own mother tongue, whereas in the countries with the lowest GDP, it is a foreign language?

Poor command over language not only leads to inability in cohesive thinking and adequate expression, but also damages confidence in children, and results in an entire generation that is poor in communication with impaired confidence and self-respect. Once children are fluent in our mother tongue, they will have a strong base to learn any language be it English, German, French, Gujarati, Marathi, Bengali, Chinese, Swahili, or any others.

Therefore, only children thinking, reasoning and communicating in their mother tongue can take India from being a second-grade technology dependent, outsourcing and back-end service providing ‘tech-labor’ nation to a confident, thinking, inventing, and creative first- rate world power.

The worst kind of poverty is poverty in thought.

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