I had been to a camp recently with Mr. Romulus Whitaker, the King Cobra man of India! It was just amazing to be with him, listen to him and learn from him (although we got little time with the man). Our team comprised of a mixture of age groups. Almost all possible demographics. From Grade 10 students to a 50+ old lady from Auroville!

language and kids

Image Courtesy: Biotech.iitm.ac.in

So here’s the scene: Shrikant Samal(my colleague) and I were put up along with three other people in a cottage by name Ridley. Two adolescents and 3 adults in a room.

What got me about them young fellows was that all of them spoke English with a roll on their tongues. So I got down to some small talk with this young kid, a US returned Grade 11 student.

I got to know that he is a:
1. TamBram by birth; but will speak only American accented Engligh
2. His parents can speak Tamil
3. No- he didnt learn the language
4. Because he did not think it was important and
( This one drops the shell, really!)
5. Because Tamil is used only to speak to his driver and maid!!!!

Me: What???????!!!!

Another kid:

1. Born to a father from Kerala and mother from Andhra Pradesh( wow, he could learn 2 languages!)
2. No- he chose not to learn either language
3. Because they speak English at home
4. There is no need for any ‘lesser’ language…

Me (thinking): Are we really this screwed up?

Another kid from Doon’s School:

1. Born to Gujrati parents
2. Speaks very good English with the firang tongue-roll and all
3. YES, he can speak his mother tongue very well
4. Because, that is his cultural connect to his parents and family!!!

Me: Thank God, so we are not so screwed up after all!!!

A humble request to all parents- Teach your child to be proud of who he is. We are a great, ingenious, resourceful country. No other country can boast of a new language/dialect every few hundred miles across the country. Same goes for cuisines. India is great and poor on many fronts, but, that is another matter for another day!
I am not here to debate which country/culture/language is greater or lesser.

Point to ponder: If your child does not like or is ashamed of who (s)he is/where (s)he comes from- chances are his/her self-esteem is abysmal.