As an Indian parent, we face unique challenges in teaching English to our young children. At the risk of stating the obvious, the language is part of the legacy left behind by our British conquerors who ruled us for the better part of 250 years. This and many other reasons have ensured that the English language has a very important place in our country. It is often said that India now has the second largest English speaking population in the world.
Challenges in teaching English to Indian Children
But because English is not the mother tongue of most Indians, our experience of the language is unique. As a parent when we try teaching our child a language that is not our mother tongue, we encounter challenges of this nature:
Even though English is a language that assimilates and evolves quickly, many times as parents we do not find words in English for common words in our regional languages. This could because equivalent words do not exist in English or because we are not familiar with the appropriate word. Either way, many times we face the reality of inadequacy of English for truly communicating all our lived experiences to our children.
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Cultural & Personal Disconnect:
When we read English books or stories or even sing rhymes, many times we realise that these situations or events make no sense in the Indian context. Even names of characters in these stories and rhymes seem alien to our surroundings. I am sure you will agree that language and its evolution is deeply tied to its place of origin, history and culture. We often tend to switch back to our mother tongue when we want our words to be more ‘impactful’.
It would be fair to say that most of us truly did not learn English grammar by remembering the rigorous rules that were taught to us as children. A clear majority of English speaking population in India would find it hard to define what a ‘Preposition’ or an ‘Abstract Noun’ is. Most of us learn grammar by hearing people talk. Over a period, we learn to develop an instinct for what appears (or sounds) to be grammatically correct or incorrect. This fact adds to the challenges in teaching English.
English is NOT the only language our Children are learning:
Most parents teach at least 2 languages to their children if not more. If you are a Tamilian guy married to a Marathi girl living in Bangalore, your kid probably is exposed to the following languages: Tamil, Marathi, Hindi, Kannada & English. As you can imagine this does complicate things, to say the least.
Spoken versus Written English:
Learning to speak a new language is easier than learning its script and grammar and writing it. It is then perhaps not very surprising that we Indians are a lot better at speaking English than writing it. So, when we teach English to our children, we face challenges on how best we ought to approach.
Each of the challenges in teaching the English language, that we Indian parents face need to be understood deeply. On our website, you will find loads of articles which will help you teach English to your kid in an effective way. We promise to keep our ideas evolving and keep sharing them with you.
- Many Indian parents push their children to learn the English language because it is the predominant language in the globalised world.
- As Indians our experience of English language is unique. It is not native to us but it still is understood in most parts of our country.
- In this blog, we will look into various challenges that we Indian parents face when we try and teach English to our children.
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Let us know what challenges you face while teaching English to your kid and how you overcome them?
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