• Arpana Lotiya

Importance of learning mother tongue

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

I was in labour surrounded with anxiety, nervousness and pain. I had multiple things in my mind running at the same time. And during all those activities happening in the background, I was rehearsing my dialogues that I wanted to tell to the baby when born. It was 3.47 PM when both me and my daughter Lehar met for the first time. I was speechless. I was blank. I could not remember a single word that I wanted to tell her. And practically, I didn’t even get time with her soon after she was born because there were multiple things happening in the background with my body and doctors looking after it. It was only in the night when I met my daughter and held her in my arms. I was in all my senses and had my food. I was trying to recall the rehearsed dialogues but my brain was temprorarly dead. I just held my daughter and we both communicated through our body language.  

 By this I had understood that this little girl understands the body language then the spoken words. But talking is important and slowly I started communicating with her. I started talking to her in my mother tongue Gujarati. Though I communicate in english most of the time with my husband, other family members and friends. I wanted to communicate with Lehar in gujarati first then in english language. Why I wanted this in particular is because over a period of time I have understood the importance of learning mother tongue.  When I was a kid my mom would always try to teach me and my brother our mother tongue Gujarati. We both speak gujarati but we don’t know how to read or write. And it is something inappropriate and made me feel guilty many a times. 

Language is a bridge that connects you with your culture and tradition. And understanding culture and tradition is a matter of pride.  There are many other practical reasons that help children in their development when communication is happening in their mother tongue.

  1. Makes learning easy - As the majority of the family members speak gujarati at home, our vocabulary remains the same majority of the time. Due to this repetition of similar words happens throughout the day. Hence, listening to similar words makes learning easy for my little one.

  2. Learning process = fun process - As every member’s tone differs from another. Lehar gets a chance to hear the same word in a different style and tone. This makes learning fun and engaging for her. Sometimes she laughs out so loud and cute that we intentionally repeat that word just to listen to her giggle.  

  3. Teaches about culture and tradition - Speaking in your own language encourages a child to learn about her culture and tradition. This creates curiosity among the children to learn and know about their own culture.

  4. Creates curiosity to be bilingual or multilingual - When a child starts to socialise with other kids they hear a different language (if another kid is non gujarati in my case) the language that other child speaks at home. This encourages children to learn that language and understand what other children are saying.  

My daughter is now eleven and half months old. She mostly understands everything that I tell her or talk to her in gujarati. To introduce a new language to her I have recently started reading a story to her which is in english language. Initially, I did not see her getting involved but slowly she is developing interest in learning the language I believe. And this is wonderful.   


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