Friday, June 2, 2023

Importance and need to promote mother tongue 


Dr Manoj Kumar Pathak

The mother tongue is an essential component of a person’s identity and culture. It refers to the first language that a person learns in their early childhood from their parents, family, and community. Mother tongue is the social, cultural and linguistic identity of any person. Great Indian litterateur BharatenduHarishchandra has explained the importance of mother tongue in this way:

Developing one’s own language is the key to every development,

Without knowledge of own language, the colic cannot be removed.

Language itself is such a precious development result of human civilization whose importance cannot be compared. By becoming a means of expression, language creates an atmosphere of sweetness, intimacy, harmony and enchantment in human life. Rabindranath Tagore said that ‘mother tongue is like mother’s milk’. The importance of mother tongue can be understood from this quote. Man can easily express his innocent feelings and inner feelings through mother tongue. There is no artificiality in it and reaches the heart after coming out of the heart.Mother tongue can be sensitized and its history, culture, literature, social systems can be understood properly. Many forms of insensitivity are being seen today and one of the main factors is the absence of primary education in the mother tongue. Burdened by the burden of vocational education and other languages ​​since childhood, there is no communication of sensitivity in children and they are not able to connect with their surroundings and nature. Their free thought and natural expression is being frustrated by the imposition of other languages.

It is a matter of pride that International Mother Language Day is the gift of the Indian subcontinent to the whole world. On 17 November 1999, UNESCO approved the celebration of International Mother Language Day on 21 February. The purpose of celebrating this day is to promote linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism in the world. In 1952, eight students lost their lives in the language movement in Dhaka city of Bangladesh. The result of the same movement was that East Pakistan, that is, Bangladesh was declared an independent country in 1971.The common people of East Pakistan were agitated over the imposition of Urdu in place of their mother tongue Bangla and the same took the form of a mass movement which proved to be a freedom struggle. This is the only example in the whole world that the independence of a country has come from the language movement.

Mother tongue is the conductor of man’s values. Without the mother tongue, the imagination of the culture of any country is meaningless. Mother tongue connects us with nationality and inspires the feeling of patriotism. Mother tongue is the voice of the soul and weaves the country like the threads of a rosary. Mother tongue is the first to give informal education and understanding to a person to think, understand and behave.It is hoped that the Central Government and the State Governments of India will take effective steps to keep the mother tongues alive and flourish and will play their role in strengthening the country even more.

The National Education Policy-2020 is a promising initiative to solve the problems related to education after last 34 years. The meaning of emphasis on mother tongue along with the introduction of other revolutionary changes is very important. By making efforts to make mother tongue or regional language the medium of instruction, children will not have to struggle with lack of understanding and insistence towards studies due to other languages ​​and interest will also increase.Second thing is that originality in thinking and philosophy on studying will remain in mother tongue. This will increase their tendency and ability to discuss or participate in discussions on any subject and the academic foundation of the students will be confirmed. The all-round development of the child can be imagined only by connecting with the mother tongue, because by this they will easily be able to connect with their soil, culture and moral concepts.It is not true at all that getting primary education from mother tongue or regional language will lead to problems in higher education because a human being can be proficient in many languages ​​simultaneously and this is the capacity of the brain. Creativity also increases on getting education from mother tongue. Even today, there are many countries including Japan, China, France, Spain, and Italy where studies are conducted in their languages​and children prove their merit in every field. It is hoped that the state governments will make sincere efforts to remove children from linguistic frustration.

India is such a country where language difference is found every five-seven kilometres and that is why it is necessary to be multilingual to understand Indian culture. It is a pity that the leadership and policy makers do not have any solid idea and interest on this subject. There are language study centres or language academies in many states of the country, but even after 22 years of Jharkhand and the coming of many governments, a concrete decision could not be taken on this.The status of state language has been given to dozens of languages, but no language study centre or language academy has been established. The language of Birhod tribe has been given the status of dead language by UNESCO, but Jharkhand government has not made any effort to keep that language alive. Many such languages ​​will disappear from Jharkhand if proper efforts are not taken to keep the languages in use and practice.

The conservation of mother tongues is crucial for preserving cultural heritage and promoting linguistic diversity. It requires the collaboration of educators, policymakers, linguists, and language communities to ensure the survival of these valuable languages.Research has shown that mother tongue education can have a significant impact on a child’s academic performance, cognitive development, and overall personality development.

If some reasons why mother tongue is important in education and personality development are documented then we find that it enhances Communication Skills, improves academic performance,promotes cultural identity, fosters critical thinking, and facilitates learning of additional languages. Children who are taught in their mother tongue are more likely to develop strong communication skills, as they are better able to express themselves and understand others.Studies have shown that children who are taught in their mother tongue perform better academically. This is because they have a better understanding of the material being taught and are more engaged in the learning process.Learning in one’s mother tongue allows children to connect with their cultural heritage, which is crucial in the development of a strong sense of identity and self-esteem.Children who are taught in their mother tongue are more likely to think critically and creatively, as they are not limited by language barriers. Factually, children who have a strong foundation in their mother tongue are more likely to learn additional languages quickly and effectively.

Evidently, the mother tongue is a critical component of a child’s education and personality development. It is essential that educators and policymakers recognize the importance of mother tongue education and provide children with the necessary resources to learn and develop in their native language.

(The author is associate professor of English at Arka Jain University, Jamshedpur and  multilingual writer. The views expressed are personal.)

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