I have just about had enough rolling of my eyes with some people who can easily tell you that, “Oh, my child doesn’t speak Shona” or “We couldn’t help her with her homework because we didn’t know the answers I can’t believe how hard Grade 1 Shona is” and yet there they are born and bred in Zimbabwe and 100% Shona. You grew up speaking the language from day 1 and yet you want to take that away from your children? Apparently this “not speaking in Shona” is supposed to be something admirable and it still puzzles me because in my opinion all you are doing is stopping your child from learning an important part of themselves. Let me give you a real life example.
My older sister has a son, who is now 15 years old. When he was a little baby my sister insisted that we only communicate with him in English and nothing else. If the little boy his age who lived in the cottage by their house came to play with my nephew and he spoke to him in Shona he was quickly asked to leave because he was not helping with my nephew’s English speaking learning skills. When my nephew got older he would visit my grandmother who didn’t know how to speak in English and she had a hard time conversing with him. Sad right? So very sad if you ask me. In my sister’s world she was happy because by now he had a proper English accent and no trace of Shona speaking in his veins. Now that he is all grown up we still don’t know if it’s okay to speak to him in Shona or stick to English because we have never heard him speaking in our mother tongue so it just makes everything so uncomfortable for everyone. (I hope my sister doesn’t get to read this she will be absolutely pissed off with me!) As it stands now my nephew is doing well in all his school subjects except for Shona. At Form 3 he has to go for Extra Shona Classes. Imagine parting with money to get someone to teach your child his mother tongue? Absolutely ridiculous!!
What makes it even funnier is that there are white people who actually speak fluent Shona and yet here we are acting like we are too cool for it. Then there are the coloured folks who act like they can’t hear a single word of Shona…I could really go in on this but that will take forever and a day.
Anyways, who am I to judge, one must feel free to teach his or her child whatever language they see appropriate for their growth as an individual. I have a daughter who I started speaking to in Shona because I wanted her to be fluent in communicating with everyone around her. It was only last year when she started going to Nursery School she started to learn how to speak in English. Right now she can fluently communicate in both Shona and English. I actually wish I knew a third or fourth language because that way she would grow up to be multilingual.
I was doing a bit of research on the multilingual subject this morning and below are some of the benefits of being multilingual for both your child and yourself as well:
- You can understand and appreciate cultural references and nuances.
- Multilingualism can create job opportunities and help you navigate the world.
- You notice and appreciate the things that are sometimes lost in translation.
- You feel a sense of connection with your heritage, history and family.
- Your interactions with people of different cultures go deeper.
- And lastly, your self-expression excitingly takes on a multitude of forms. (points taken from www.huffingtonpost.com)
I want to know your thoughts on this subject.
- Do you think a child should be exposed to exclusively one language?
- Do you have people in your country who also shun their mother tongue?
- What do you think is the real reason behind parents not wanting their children to speak their mother tongue.