How Language Skills Can Benefit Children

Vijayalaxmi Shashank Manerikar

Educationist Director, Global Vision International School

It is said that a child can learn maximum languages at a time. There is no limit on how many languages a child should learn. One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open many doors along the way. It is said that ‘the limits of your languages are the limits of your world.’ It is observed that, if a child is exposed to many languages in his every day’s life between 2 to 10 years, he can learn all those languages. Just see some children in a family where multilingual parents, guardians and relatives live together as joint family members, the child learns all those languages.

It is often seen that if parents speak Marathi, Gujrati, Hindi, English or any other languages, children in their family start conversing in these languages very soon. The number of multilingual joint families are more in India. After all, India is a multilingual and multicultural nation. Language learning is usually a natural phenomenon. Sometimes, it is done unconsciously since it is the need of life. But developing language at a particular standard level is a conscious process. It should be done deliberately and continuously.

Why should languages be learn and developed?

Language is the primary medium of expression of our daily needs. But beyond this feature of language, there are more aspects of the language. Language is the road map of a culture. It tells you where its people come from and where they are going. Language is the most crucial factor of a personality.

The passion for learning a proper language can be developed only in childhood. We should make the children realize that people are always fascinated by famous personalities because of their way of communication. Language is the best mode of communication. It is a source of acquiring knowledge, building relationships and reaching society. Whoever creates their name in any field requires to express their feelings about hard work, the intention, and the aim behind their success. So, it is crucial to know the language and how to use it to express your feelings.

Most parents scold the child if the child sits to study language - be it Marathi, Hindi, or English. The general statement of parents in this situation is, ‘Other subjects like Math’s and Science are more important than any language.’ Is it correct? Just ask yourself. Is there any moment in which we live without language? A person can be the best doctor, best architecture or best engineer but will fail to build his relationships with his customers or well-wishers if he lacks proper communication skills . When you speak to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart. Language is the most critical element of communication skills. So, it should be developed in childhood only because it takes years and years for a person to become a great communicator.

How can language skills be developed?

The first method of acquiring language is observation. A 1-2-year-old child learns words by observing elders. Then starts a cognitive process. The child then starts connecting the words to the actions and creates his syntax through which he forms sentences. Initially, these sentences are unscrambled. Later on, by the developing sense of semantic, he learns to put the words in the correct order. This learning happens naturally in the case of our mother tongue. In the same way, any language a child can learn, but day-to-day exposure of that language in a proper way is essential.

We understand that to speak the language correctly; we do not require to learn grammar topics in the classroom. If the language learning process is started late and the exposure of language speaking and listening are less, then it is difficult for the students to grasp the language and understand the style, dialect, vocabulary of the language.

About 10-15 years ago in regional medium schools, English, Hindi, Sanskrit and other such languages were included in high school, i.e. it was introduced to the students aged ten and above. It was tough for those students to acquire the language fluently. It created an inferior complex about these languages in the student’s mind. It may happen with any language if it is introduced late in a child’s life. I personally feel that parents should consider the language factor as the most important and should concentrate on their child’s language development.

Ways to develop an interest in language

Initially, we can introduce the target language with pictures or the objects they represent. Think, for example, of a three-year-old with a “see-and-say.” Grammar rules are not generally taught as such but are picked up by osmosis. Vocabulary acquisition is typically rapid, at least at first. Pictures help visual learners memorise the vocabulary. Repetition is essential.

Secondly, there are many more advanced pieces of equipment available to listen to a language with an original accent spoken by native people. We can use a computer, digital boards, language lab as an audio-visual media. The advantage of using these media is that we can show them the original videos of conversation, dialogues and drama, which is more joyful and useful to learn a foreign language.

Thirdly, the available group of peers. Group language activities are essential in which loud poetry or drama reading and recitation are involved. The advantage of group activity is the confidence level of students in a group is developed.

Fourth, the participation of students in theatre performances focused on a particular language like a one-act play or a skit or a street play can be set and performed in many languages like Marathi, Hindi, Sanskrit, English, among others. It develops a student’s confidence and mass communication.

To conclude, I want to mention again that all the parents should realize that language is an essential part of a child’s development. So do not ignore it. On the contrary, deliberately concentrate on it and find better ways to improve your child’s language. Schools should do the best job in language teaching and learning process. Learning a language should not be a burden; it should be taught in such an enjoyable way that students like to participate in all language activities. Students should read all types of books suitable to their age group to develop a sense of understanding the style of language and meaning between the lines. Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which, they grow.

Vijayalaxmi Shashank Manerikar

Educationist Director, Global Vision International School