I want to travel with my children to the village, for the Easter holiday. But here I am wondering what mode of communication will be used between them and my dear grandmother. Sad but true! Mother tongue has a very powerful impact in the formation of the individual. Our first language, the beautiful sounds of which one hears and gets familiar with before being born while in the womb, has such an important role in shaping our thoughts and emotions.
Over time English has swiftly taken over for most of us, leaving a huge cultural gap. Yet our kids’ psychological and personality development will depend upon what has been conveyed through the mother tongue. With this in mind, as psychologists say, it matters tremendously that language expressions and vocabulary are chosen with care when we talk to children.
A child’s first comprehension of the world around him or her, the learning of concepts and skills, and his/her perception of existence, starts with the language that is first taught to him, their mother tongue. In the same manner, a child expresses his/her first feelings, his/her happiness, fears, and his/her first words through their mother tongue.
A mother’s language has such an important role in framing our thinking, emotions and spiritual world, because the most important stage of our life, childhood, is spent in its imprints. So it should automatically follow that we teach our children their mother tongue, as it won’t only give them a sense of belonging but also answer most of the questions that may arise on how/why they speak and act the way they do.
A strong bond between a child and his parents (especially mother) is established by virtue of love, compassion, body language, and also through the most important one, which is the verbal language. When a person speaks their mother tongue, a direct connection establishes between heart, brain and tongue. Our personality, character, defects, our skills, and all other hidden characteristics become truly revealed through the mother tongue because the sound of the mother tongue in the ear and its meaning in the heart give us trust and confidence.
Mother tongue is one of the most powerful tools used to preserve and convey culture and cultural ties. Children who are unaware of their culture, their language, and their history have essentially lost themselves. During my high school, I always heard girls remind another where they come from (home town/tribe ) right before they got into a fight. This left me wondering why? Years later I figured it was a form of psyching up themselves while intimidating the other person at the same time. I know for sure if I was about to get into a fight with a mukiga I would be giving up at that point—even before I start.
Jokes aside, make an effort to make the mother tongue part of your child’s list of major languages. You never know how much confidence will come with your kids being able to express themselves fluently in their mother as they grow older. It puzzles me that we can be willing to pay extra to learn a Western language but not our very own.