Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Language Kills?

I came from a Malay medium schooling system. It was not my mother tongue, and I was not even aware of the existence of the language until I went to the primary school at the age of 7. My first day of school was a nightmare. Imagine yourself as a tiny 7 year old surrounded by kids and adults of different colours, speaking an alien language! It was that bad, ok.

I had no choice but to make friends with those from my own race and few others who went to the same kindergarden. Yes, I did go to kindy but it was a missionary ones which used only English as the medium of instruction. I only knew 2 languages - Tamil and English back then.

Giving up on the school would be the last thing in my mind. I was the only child then and was so damn excited about school. I made it a point to attend school every day, no matter how difficult it was to blend with the environment. That is when my family members started to help me. No, they didn't send me to tuition classes. Tuitions were unheard of then. Then what they did? They started to converse in Malay at home. It was a little weird - Tamil speaking family conversing with their child in Malay in every opportunity they get. But hey, it worked! It only took me 1/2 year to adopt the language! And I am proud to say that I can converse in fluent Bahasa, so fluent that no one could guess this is an Indian girl speaking Malay at the end of the phone line.

Looking at another side of the story. I am able to converse well in Tamil and my reading/writing skills are at average. Again, being from a Malay medium school, I had limited opportunity to practise the reading/writing part. But I did take initiative to learn on my own, and I would love to learn even more.

Why am I writing about this?

I am a living proof (most of us are) that learning a new language is not rocket science. You don't have to be an Einstein to learn English or Malay or Tamil or any languages for that matter. What you need is the willingness to learn and opportunity to practise the language. As simple as that.

If teaching Science and Maths in English is not a good idea (according to some geniuses), then let it be. If vernacular schools contribute to polarity (again, according to some geniuses), then let it be. But give the opportunity to everyone to master an extra language, even if it means just English. I said master, not just learn. We will go a long way if that happens.

God bless.


Arv said...

inspiring :)

well done Ammu :)

take care... cheers...

Hemanth Potluri said...

:)..that was a good read...i am trying to learn spanish and its soo diff people just make fun..but one day i wil master...thanks for the inspiration tulips :)..


v I v E k said...

Ammu, at least okay la your family conversed in Malay. My family nobody speak mandarin la..;)

And matter of fact, mom taught me Tamil. Reading and writing is not an issue for me edi as I upgraded in uni by going for the classes.

Learnt Russian as well, but did not practice so it went down the drain.

Practice makes everything keeps going. I know a person who can speak 13 different languages. Cool eh??;)

venus66 said...

Nice post. Nothing is impossible for the willing heart.
How are you, Ammu?

viji said...

first day of school always the unforgettable experience. Still fresh in mind :)

well said willingness to learn is very important in learning something new...