Sunday, May 13, 2012

Summer Vacation and Kids: Teach Children an Extra Language, Make Use of Holidays

Whichever language you want the kids to learn, first get attractive, colorful books

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Summer vacations have just begun and it's a wonderful opportunity for you to teach your kids an extra language.

If the children learn an additional language its a big advantage for them.

That's not just an additional skill but it opens mind, and gives exposure to an entirely new culture.

Frankly, it's not too tough, because kids have great ability to pick up things, quite fast, at that age.

For example, if you are Tamil, Telugu, Kannada or Malayalam speaker living in North India, there are chances that your kids can't read books in their native language. Similar is true for Bengali, Punjabi, Marathi, Oriya or Gujarati speakers in metros or living in Southern cities.

Your kids, perhaps, understand a bit when you speak your mother tongue. But if you make them read the script, it will be a great achievement. If, however, you are a Hindi speaker in a North Indian state, and none of you [parents] know a third language, you can always find an elderly neighbour who would be too willing to teach his language to your kid.

In fact, kids enjoy a lot when they start learning a new language. You would be surprised to see their enthusiasm, trying newly learnt words with friends and amid family members. But what is necessary is to instill the drive in them.
Urdu story books for children

Firstly, you must get good story books. Coloured books with lots of photographs, caricatures and cartoons attract kids.

Don't say that your child doesn't want to read, and rather remains hooked to television, watching the cartoon channels. The kid surely doesn't watch TV all day.

You can promise him or her a big gift, once they learn the basic and finishes a few books. Kids love a bit of challenge & if you give them books that have stories or even comics, they'd learn fast.

Even I was astonished with my little daughter's sudden interest in learning, when she suddenly started recognising words, and began reading all by herself. And all this without going through the primers. She is now reading headlines in Urdu newspapers also.
Though in Urdu-speaking [mostly Muslim households], Muslim kids are taught Arabic and hence most of the Urdu alphabets are recognised by them, but still, in India, Urdu is not as much in schools and street. And it takes an effort to make your kid read Urdu, because the nastaliq font is different from Arabic.

And, of course, Urdu is an entirely different language. The sounds 'bh', 'gh','jh', 'th', 'ph', 'chh', 'Dh', 'Drh' and even French 'zh' [as in vision] are totally unique in it and so is the manner in which they are joined. Then there are four 'T' and three 'S' in the alphabet.

While a section of parents feel that children will someday learn it and hence don't take it seriously, the reality is that once the child reaches teenage, it becomes difficult for him or her to sit and seriously learn the language due to the load of studies.

Another section feels that there is no use in learning it. Similar is thinking among speakers of other languages also. I have umpteen friends who hail from Maharashtra but can't read Marathi, despite the closeness of script.

Even kids born in Keralite families who live in North India, can't differentiate between Manorama and Vanitha. Each language opens an altogether new dimension and the door to a new beautiful world. Just give it a try. First focus on reading, as writing can come later.

But yes, the toughest task is that you will have to find attractive books for them. Earlier posts related to this subject:

1. Don't look at governments, do it yourself: First Urdu cartoon website launched

2. No cartoons, comics in Urdu papers