Recently, Sridevi made a comeback with a movie called English Vlinglish. Apparently, it is about a housewife learning to speak English. While I have not seen the movie, the title reminded me of the English syndrome that is very common nowadays amongst urban parents. Instead of speaking to kids in their native language, parents choose to speak in English. So nowadays in public places we often get to hear phrases like “Come here beta”, or “don’t do this beti” etc. And this syndrome is not just restricted to older kids who at least have a fair idea about the language, but often tiny tots too who have no inkling of what is going on and have no option but to blankly stare back at the doting mommy.
What I find really amusing is, these parents themselves need lessens in English. How else can you explain “I tell doctor to give you kuch kuch??” (My sister heard this at her local paediatrician; apparently a Mommy was threatening her kiddo with an injection)!!”
I fail to understand what are the intentions behind this English fad and what is it that these parents want to portray here? Are they merely trying to teach the language to the children by using it their first language? If so, should they not make sure they speak it right first? And again, what is the point? I mean a good English medium school will anyways teach them the language, so shouldn’t we ensure that our kids can at least speak our native language? Or do these parents just want to reveal how modern they are?
I can assure you, I am not against English. On the contrary, I am easily impressed by people who speak good English and I look down upon people who make grammatical mistakes and can’t get their pronunciations right. All I am saying is there is no need to speak the language to little children just to prove a point. There are other better ways for kids to learn the language, speaking in poor English to little kids who have no idea of what is going on does not seem like a good course of action to me!!
I was never ever spoken to in English as a child at home. Now I not only speak the language fluently, but also write fairly well. My dad encouraged me to read a lot of books in a young age, and that is what I believe has given me a good command over the language. So I never feel the need to speak in English to my daughter. Many a times parents bitten by the English bug stare at me disapprovingly when they hear me talk to my daughter in my native language, as if I have committed a gory crime, but I don’t care. I feel a good English medium school along with a reading hobby is good enough to teach the language, so I will continue to talk to her in my native language. Call me old fashioned if you like, but I hope my daughter will prove me right J