What Language to Select – Pros and Cons

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.” ~ Nelson Mandela

India is a nation of many cultures, dialects, and religions. With 22 official languages and many more regional languages, there is a wide selection available for your children to choose from.

Because of the three-language formula in centrally administered schools, it is compulsory for every child to learn three languages. You have to decide what their first, second and third language will be. State syllabus usually has two languages.

Our nation was divided and reorganised on the basis of language. We must realise that this ‘weakness’ is actually our strength, making us one of the most diverse nations ever. This three language policy will benefit everybody by bringing us together again as one unified country and help keep India intact.

In the words of Frank Smith, psycholinguist – “One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

Students shouldn’t perceive languages as a burden. In fact, studies have shown that learning an extra language is advantageous and helps improve focus, concentration, memory, and intelligence. Also, it takes less time for a child to learn a language than an adult, so it is good that schools are doing this at a young age. Here are the factors that should weigh into your decision and the pros and cons of selecting a particular language:

Languages Available

The first factor that plays into your decision is the options that the school offers. Obviously, if the school doesn’t teach French, there will be no way for you to enrol in French class. Your first step should be to look at the options you can select as this eliminates some languages instantly. From the list of languages the school offers, you can narrow down your list.  

Parental Knowledge

The parent’s knowledge of the language may also play a part. If the mother or father is fluent in the language, they can help the child learn and teach them at home. Parents can help answer questions and clarify doubts regarding the language. This isn’t absolutely required as you expect the teachers to take care of it. There are always tutors available to help.

Comfort Level

Are you comfortable with your child learning a particular language? It is not just about you, as your kid should also be comfortable. After all, they are the ones who will learn the new language. You should sit down with your child beforehand and look at all the options available. Some students opt for Sanskrit as it is easier to learn and score well than other languages. Whatever you do, be sure to get your son or daughter’s input first so they are comfortable with the decision.

Relevancy & Difficulty

One should look at the practical usage of the language while making their choice. You need to examine how frequently people speak, read, and write in the language. For example, although some of the more ancient languages such as Sanskrit are part of the Indian heritage, they are not spoken a lot today. On the other hand, Sanskrit is the language of Vedas, Shastras and classical literature and those with a historical bent of mind should consider it. The key question to ask yourself is whether your child is actually learning the language. They could end up just memorising the information and forgetting about it after the end of the school year.

Future Employment

Will it help them in the place where they seek employment? Obviously, this depends on where they will seek employment. Your child could plan on working in the same state, move to another state, or leave the nation. Employment may seem far off, but it is difficult to change languages halfway through school.  Then comes the conundrum of whether they will retain the language learnt in school. Often times, children tend to just study for marks and forget about the information once the exams are over. Either way, keep their future in mind for sure.

Regional vs. Foreign Languages

According to this study by World Atlas, the five most spoken languages in India are Hindi, Bengali, Telugu, Marathi, and Tamil. Each state has its own local language, with some even having two or three. Learning to read and write the local language will help the child traverse the place without the help of their parents. In some places (mostly rural areas),  the street signs and store names are only in the regional language, and anyone who is unable to read them will get lost.   

On the other hand, German, French, Russian, Greek, Arabic and Japanese are some foreign languages that your child can learn. However, the school should offer these languages. The debate is ongoing about whether children should learn regional languages or foreign ones first. Foreign languages give children more exposure to the world outside of India. As of late, many students in the US are opting to learn Mandarin Chinese.

The final decision is yours to make. If you want your child to learn about the roots and ancient culture, they should take Sanskrit. If you want them to learn the most popular language, they should go for Hindi. It would be suitable for them to learn their mother-tongue for their own heritage. For anyone looking at the present, the best thing would be to make them learn the local language. A glance to the future and English or a foreign language may be the way to go.   

Many parents tend to concentrate more on maths, science, and social studies, and language tends to get ignored. You should not do this. Place equal emphasis on all subjects as bad marks in one will drag the entire average down. Fluency in languages will help your children to express themselves clearly – which is instrumental not only for marks but for any life activity.

We work with and tutor students from 3rd to 9th standard on a variety of school subjects, and language is one of them. We will help them understand the language, and through increased understanding, their marks will increase as well. Hindi courses for CBSE and ICSE boards are our speciality. Contact us now.