Learning Language

Why do we need language – to read , to write or to communicate. Do we ever teach mother tongue formally? yet child learns it much before he / she goes to school. Should the language be taught or be learnt?

Learning is a mystery -No two kids learn the same way, at the same time, in the same amount. Here are few experiences of learning language.

One child 7yrs old, did not want to read – we did not ask him to read (you know ulta pulta).At the age of 71/2 yrs he came to me and asked “can you tell me how to read, I want to read about ships and know more about them”. (again ulta pulta – now he wanted to read, but we did not teach him, he worked out his own strategies).I said simple “become friend with the words, the you will know them. Do you know how to make friends? He started reading advertisements on the hoardings, asking other children “how do you read this word?, He started asking “what is this” when he was being read by others, he started observing words and relating words. At the age of nine he read Harry potter.

One child knew about the language a bit, he started with the Phonemic program. He got confused, he expressed. We asked him to go by how you would like to learn and we followed him. He would read, sit with books for long, copy from books. He reads now he still write with sounds and is still confuse when it comes to writing. He is still working.

One child, 5yrs old took one big book and read it completely, leaving me surprising. Now, what next? Normally it is considered the work of faculty is done, as the child already know how to read and read fluently. We began to talk about pictures and talk in detail. The child was not relating to the pictures compared to what he read. There was a scope to work on descriptive language and expanding it further and seeing beyond reading skills.

The language was always a task to learn and they were categorized in first, second and third language and the importance of their weightage in the examination.

At Aarohi we began with learning a language for need. At the campus all the people around us speak Kannada or Tamil. Two kids in the group know both the languages – we take their help in communicating. We are also learning from them. When we visited Maharashtra – Hindi and Marathi became two most used languages for us – those two kids started learning and understanding Hindi from us, from other people while we all continued to learn Marathi from people around us. During one the session, which was in pure Hindi, one child started guessing with his body language. If the person was speaking about the home remedies for nose blocking, he was also touching the nose – and this gesture was enough for the child to explore many words in Hindi.

We all learn. One child keeps checking the cooking ingredients in Spanish – the language learning is a joy for us. We play games, learn two languages at a time., sing songs of various languages, meet people and communicate with them, we enquire about various cultures and languages. I am happy that we are able to RELISH the languages and there are more than just 1 or 2 languages for us at Aarohi.

One child from village joined Aarohi, he wanted to learn English. All speak with him in English. Soon we started thinking what next? How do we work ahead in “learning English” And then we began questioning self? What is he here for? What language is for? Is language is for communication or for expression?

We started bringing various resources for him. We forgot about teaching him English. He did not – he continued to learn English. We started using other languages (whatever we know in Kannada). he taught us various words in Tamil. Journey continues.