The True Meaning Of Mother Tongue: Strategies To Keep Native Language Alive
During my research, I was inundated with several interpretations of what “mother tongue” represents. Hence I present you a few.
It’s no longer news that many native languages are dying at an alarmingly quick rate. Tribal communities in parts of Africa and Native American communities in the US are seriously impacted.
I am passionate about preserving native languages and culture for the next generation, especially Africans, Nigerians and Igbo race.
What tongue is superior?
According to Collins dictionary “Your mother tongue is the language that you learn from your parents when you are a baby”.
However, the definition that caught my eyes says. “The language spoken by one’s ancestors. The language is spoken by one’s mother when it differs from that spoken by one’s father”.
“The long-term effects of colonization and assimilation have ridden many such communities of their native tongue and culture. Unfortunately socioeconomic circumstances today have not made the task of resurrecting such languages and culture any easier”
Your native tongue is your birthright
A child who is not taught their native language has been denied their heritage and their civic right. It’s part of brainwashing to even dare to consider that your language is inferior or not posh enough for your kids to learn. Language is directly tied to one’s tradition and culture. We should celebrate us, there is no one in the universe like we are.
One can play too....
I often hear people say that they and their spouses are from a different ethnic background. It doesn’t matter, let the child learn one. Although my husband is Delta, his comfort zone with the children is the English language. That’s not a problem as far as I’m concerned. He has only presented an opportunity to brand them Igbo “lol” (pls don’t quote me ooh na joke I dey”).
4 benefits of speaking/understanding one’s
- By teaching children their native tongue, a sense of identity and belonging is being instilled.
- It is vital for children to learn the importance of diversity, that being different is OK.
- Many younger children just want to fit in and be like everyone else.
- Taking undue advantage of the individual, swindle, extort and manipulate situations to disfavour because of incapacitation of the language barrier.
Science of Polyglot
It’s irrelevant whether the young person would later settle in the country of their ancestors or not. Learning a language explores one of the brain’s commands of six central functions.
- motor skills
Studies have shown that children that speak more than one language are usually smarter and more intelligent.
If "anything" were easy, this blog wouldn't have taken me several days to finish
I agree it can be tricky at first to introduce the language. Even more in an environment where the native language is not the officially spoken language. Sometimes, the only chance a child has to learn the language of their ancestor is at home. Living in diaspora makes it extra difficult. It eliminates the benefit of interaction and learning from the extended family.
However, nothing is impossible to a desiring mind.
How do you ensure the language sticks?
From personal experience, children are cleverer than we give them credit. They are often more apt at picking up languages. The bottleneck is usually the adult, who is often concerned with the awkwardness of the first encounter. If you follow below tips religiously, your children will understand any language you are teaching them in six months.
Five steps that have worked for me, a mother of three….
- Make it a matter of principle to only communicate in that language with the child. After all, when they are not with you they can speak whatever they like.
- Don’t ever interpret in any other language, only give clues in the same language
- Break it down, reframe the sentence or the word, make signs do everything to jog the child’s memory, BUT DON’T INTERPRETE
- Send the child off to ask the siblings for assistance, let them brainstorm and find the answer amongst themselves.
- Tap into their competitive spirit reward and encourage efforts
Soul searching, thought provoking.....
We are colonized more than we would like to admit.
- What language do you think and plan with?
- Do you know that thinking and planning in your native language avails you that native knowledge and wisdom of your ancestors that you can’t get with thinking in your colonial language?
- The tongue that you speak defines who you are.
- What percentage of The Millenials understand their native language?
The challenge; are you up for it?
- Make a conscious effort to communicate more in your native language
- May I know who you are, please use the comment box and eulogize in your native language….
Igbo kwenu, kwenu, kwezue nu!!!!! abum Nwayi Igbo and proudly so.