Why teach our kids Tamil? This might sound like an absurd question – maybe even an insulting one. However, the sad truth is that this question does strike many parents overseas, whether they vocalize it or not. While it is assuring that there are many Tamil parents who make the effort to try teach their children our mother tongue even with limited resources, it is disheartening that there are an equal number who hesitate at the same time. Rather than judging them, why not look at why they would feel this way in the first place?
The mother of all inventions is necessity. Where the needs are not explicit and in the face of various other seemingly more important commitments and priorities, parents might question the necessity of teaching their children Tamil. How would learning Tamil help them in the foreign country and society they are living in? How would learning Tamil be useful for them given their current lifestyle and environment? Do we really need the language?
Let’s take a look at why teaching Tamil to our children can be a necessity
- Learning Tamil is essential for our children so they can understand their roots and heritage – who they are and where they came from.
- The less we speak the language, the more it might become non-existent with time. History has shown that many older languages have gone extinct because of a dwindling lack of use of the language in daily communication. It would be sad to have that happen to a beautiful language like Tamil, rich in its culture.
- The learning of a new language at an early age is known to be highly beneficial to a child’s development. Being able to understand a concept in various languages and connecting the dots is an extremely good quality that would stimulate the mind and encourage creative thinking and analysis.
- Lastly, and more close to heart, learning Tamil can help them communicate with their loved ones back home! I am sure many families struggle when children can’t talk to and relate to their grandparents and other relatives due to a language barrier. Why can’t we give them the joy of not missing out on their grandchild’s lives by helping our kids learn Tamil?
The reasons are clear. We should make an effort to teach our children Tamil to ensure that the language lives on and to protect identity as a race from fading into the masses of the world. Through teaching our children Tamil, the extended family, including the youngest generation, can enjoy one another and not miss out on each other’s lives and lessons. Elders can teach our children so much more in the absence of language barriers. Our cultural values, morals and traditions and so much more can be passed on to the children if they could be communicated to them in Tamil.
This post was not meant to offend anyone. My intention was just to open your minds and eyes to the possibility of teaching your kids Tamil even if we live away from our home countries. Sometimes, we can get so caught up with our new lifestyle that we can unintentionally let previously significant priorities suffer without much attention given to them. I hope that this post has at least gotten some parents to think about exposing their children to our language. The fate of it lies in our hands and only we have the honour of passing on the appreciation of the beauty of the language to generations to come. Let’s not waste that gift.