Friday, April 10, 2015

When to start teaching English Communication in schools?

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If a person shuns his mother tongue, then he/she may lose the basic clarity of thought process that is necessary for one's development as an individual. ---MT Vasudevan Nair, Jnanpith Award winning author
During a training session for a batch of XI class students, one of them mentioned that in her previous school where they had to speak only in English or else were made to pay fine if they spoke in their mother tongue and the kind of bitterness she felt towards the school authorities' who imposed such a draconian law that curtailed their right to speak in their natural language of thinking and made them feel frustrated and suffocated creatively and vocally; this made one feel that the right age to learn to "Think and Speak in English" should ideally be after ten and it should happen out of their volition. If you ban the use of mother tongue in institutions especially where the learners are very young in age then it is like killing their ability to think and speak altogether. The students stand a chance to lose the most important God given gift they had been endowed with at the time of birth - the gift of thinking and discovering which is so useful to understand their own minds, their society and the natural environment where they live.
Besides this too much emphasize on speaking without clearly telling the students/learners the basic rules to make a simple English sentence is also a futile exercise in itself. The ideal way is to first let them enjoy and empower their thoughts in their native language and then gradually expose them to a few expressions and a few rules to make sentences in English. Let the students have the best of both worlds. Let them be open, non-judgmental and neutral to all languages. Let them not be swayed by the culture of the native speakers of a particular language. Let them see language only as a vehicle, a tool to carry their thoughts across to an audience and nothing else. The audience matters, not the language. Let the situation, the occasion define the chosen language. And let people be proficient in multiple languages and feel the freshness of their thoughts when dressed in the right robes. 
Who are we, ordinary mortals, to tamper with/cripple their minds by banning their thoughts if expressed in their mother tongue. I am asking this question again, who are we to play with their natural evolution in the way they think, reason, imagine, feel, introspect and reflect. Let there be diversity in the way people think and express their thoughts and in this uniqueness lies the true answer to the well being and happiness of societies.


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