It is worrisome to note that some parents don’t speak their mother tongue and imbibe their culture and values to their children at home.
I grew up in a monolingual house. My father hails from Ijero local government while my mother comes from Oye local government both in Ekiti State.
My parents are never ashamed to speak our indigenous language to me and my siblings. They exposed us to our native language, culture and values.
Till date, if my parents want to speak with me, sometimes, they start their conversation with our indigenous language. For instance, two days ago, my mother called me and said in our native language, “Okun awe, saala ni kete gbogbo ule. Awon omo siko? Oya re?”
My wife is from Urhobo in Delta State and we always spoke a mixture of English and Yoruba languages with each other before our children were born, so naturally, we continue and without a plan, once we became parents, we defaulted to our indigenous languages. Sure, we expose our children to the lingua franca (English language) BUT still, our indigenous languages are the primary languages of our home.
My wife and I are trying our best to make sure our kids learn our indigenous languages by exposing them to as much Yoruba and Urhobo as we can. All we can do is hope that it sticks.
I find encouragement when my sons and especially my daughter, with just a hint of shyness, greet us in our languages or when my son asks to play games on my laptop. And I find peace in the knowledge that my children are learning multiple languages.
Although, my children are not fluent in our indigenous languages, however, at least, they develop a passive understanding of our indigenous languages hearing it between us constantly.
One common misconception about teaching your children your language and values is that trying to teach them your indigenous language will confuse them and cause them to fall behind in school. However, there is no evidence to support this claim. Children who grow up speaking more than one language tend to be more creative thinkers, adapt quickly to different environments, and process information more efficiently.
Speaking mother tongue to your children doesn’t mean they will not be brilliant. In fact, bilingual or multilingual children tend to perform better academically.
By not speaking your indigenous language to your children, you are not helping them. Research shows that one thinks through one’s language.
In as much as you don’t speak your indigenous language, imbibe your culture and values to your children, you can’t know or appreciate your culture which is embedded in it with many thoughts and values.