In Nigeria, Hundreds and even thousands of kids cannot speak their mother tongue. Nigeria had an amazingly diverse culture with over 250 languages ranging from the three important languages from the three major tribes; Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo to other ones like Efik, Tiv and Benin.
Most children don’t speak it simply because the parents don’t teach them, rather they rely on whatever they’re taught in schools. As a matter of fact, some parents nowadays discourage speaking local language to their children. The reasons for this isn’t far fetched. According to the results of some findings, many parents discourage their children from speaking their language because they believe it is shameful to do so, as such an act can affect their egos and does not prove how intelligent their children are and will not show how much money they have invested in educating such a child. This fact is rather misleading, pretentious,deceitful and needs to be corrected to save our mother tongue from heading to extinction.
A Yoruba teacher in a top private school in Akure South Local Government who pleaded anonymity, described it as misplaced priority which could lead to language extinction. She added that parents who think like this are ignorant and as a matter of fact. It is quite shameful that a child does not understand or speak his or her native dialect. It makes it more difficult for the children to fit into the society, especially when the children are born and bred their. She stressed that with the way this generation can’t speak their local language, no legacy would be left for the next generation.
When examined, the reason for children not being able to speak their local language is because their parents don’t speak the language to them. That is why some of them don’t even know that respecting elders is another way to uphold our culture because all these are interwoven. Worse off, they don’t know basic things like kneeling/prostrating to greet an adult, helping an adult with his or her bag.
Parents should note that it is part of child training. The children must understand the culture and norms of where he or she is from. Unfortunately, children neglecting their native languages is a trend that has been on for years and it is getting to a level that needed to be reversed. Civilisation is to be blamed for this.
Contrary to the belief that children who speak their language is local, it shows how clever and intelligent a child is. This should serve as a wake up call for parents and they should make their children understand that speaking one’s mother tongue does not in any way limit one’s ability, instead it serves as an added advantage to one’s personality and open such a child to many opportunities which others who cannot communicate in their native languages may be denied.
Children should be encouraged to speak their indigenous language and not frowned at whenever they speak their mother’s tongue. Parents should not feel embarrassed and discouraged when their children fail to speak English Language forgetting that one’s language is another form of identification.
In the international scene, a french man is very proud of his language likewise the German, Dutch, Korean, Chinese, Japanese e.t.c so why are we not proud of ours? Even if you have to sit them down at home for 30 a couple of minutes a day after work and just go over alphabets, numbers, adages, idioms and greetings etc. They’ll remain grateful as they won’t feel left out or feel like they don’t have a connection with their culture.