SOULTales - Character Strengths, Stories & Vocabulary

Friday, March 12, 2010

Language anyone?

How different are the written and spoken forms of your first language? If you want children to become familiar with their first language, which form would you look for in children's books - formal or informal? Why?
"Uh OH " is my first reaction. 
I am the last person to even comment on mother tongue/first language. But then I read the second question and I embraced the word "familiar". Oh yes, thats something I want, can do for my kids!
Ok, let me rewind a bit, not a lot, but enough to give you a background before I venture into how I see children picking up language through books.
I have learnt English, Hindi, Tamil, French and Sanskrit!! And I loved every bit of it.
Hindi was tough. Growing up in suburban Chennai, where all the Hindi one heard was confined to the four walls of a classroom and your Hindi teacher, who had this innovative technique of fining us 50p for every non-Hindi word/sentence spoken in class, ( which converted into a term end Party!!).  Yet I believed I had a good grasp of the language, till I traveled up North and realised how pathetically inadequate I was( well thats another story...)  
French in High school was brilliant, which we basically took up to score more marks(!!). Yet I thoroughly enjoyed learning, speaking and understanding that language. More credit to the teacher, who was this soft spoken "Mesdames" who helped us through traductions  and "conjugaison de verbes" .
Sanskrit in college...what can I say? There was leeway here as one could write the paper in English, with apt quotes from passages. And quote I did in galore!!( Upama Kalidasasya ?!)
Ahhh....yet coming to my first language/mother tongue, Tamil; a shamefaced soul stands before you. Speaking a corrupted version of this beautiful language, I have never delved into its literary folds. I cannot as my reading is confined to "kooti paddikkarathu", which roughly translates into 'reading by putting together(the sounds)'.

So where does that leave my kids? Do I want them to learn, get familiar? 

Yes on all accounts. 
The impact of this is felt by me more than any one else. My son was fluent in Tamil till he entered play school, when he switched to English, there again we were delighted with his diction and fluency, till we  moved to Kanpur and now we are amazed at his vocabulary in Hindi!

I want my children to learn languages. It is not so much the first language as in Any language. The first step is to hear the language being spoken. Formal nuances can be presented informally.

Audio-Visual is the way to go. Well illustrated books, supplemented with Audio feedback will definitely speed up learning, and not to miss out on sustaining their interest and  firing their imagination. 

When the children Hear what they See...through songs/rhymes/patterns which is enhanced by the visuals and graphics in the book, the beauty of the language is highlighted and what other better way is there?!

A series of books taking the child through a journey of words and visuals, using audio books,  is how I see language weaving its magic in children.

Click on link below to view the source of my inspiration for this blogpost...
Tulika Books