Tuesday, April 16, 2024

The Disparity Between Learning Foreign Languages And Retaining Our Native Language.

The Importance of retaining your mother tongue.

A picture of words in a dictionary
Photo from pexels

Learning foreign languages has made communication and relation easier between individuals and nations.

Many of us have different reasons for learning different languages it could be the love for the new language, culture or people, it could also be for business purposes or on a general note travelling and touring the world. As for me whenever people speak a language I don’t understand I always get puzzled and try to listen if I can understand, well maybe it’s because I’m in the field of linguistics. 😂 but often times it doesn’t work because it’s no magic and other times I understand a little and inquire of the language. (Especially Nigerian languages).

Learning a new language is hard work, my guess is you reading this right now is learning a new language. Being bilingual is of great advantage in our world today but one thing that has caught my attention with all these in place is that we often neglect our native language which is the first language we learn as a child. My understanding of this regardless of the definition is that native tongues are more than just first languages spoken to children which can be foreign as well, i see it as the language of your people or tribe. 

Old artifacts hanging on a wall
Photo by Maria Orlova from pexels.

I can’t help but overemphasize the importance of retaining our mother tongue, I think it is something we should hold dear.

There’s a mentality to it as well here’s mine.

I remember back then in Secondary School I used to think my mother tongue which is (Asụsụ Igbo) was kinda local and sounded to me like people speaking it are illiterate, (English language is the official and general language here in Nigeria it could be considered a first language as well because most of us learn to speak from birth). it was that bad. So I didn’t take pleasure learning Igbo or trying to learn, it was even taught in my school even though I grew up hearing the language and being spoken to in Igbo language so I took sides though in a great way upbringing had its share in it. 

But guys, you see this mentality and conception it’s very common in our society today and I think in Africa at large too where people dump their mother tongue in a bid to sound foreign or feel like they are civilized. 

You know growing up and being privileged to learn foreign languages and to see the disparity between speaking your native language, having an accent and sounding foreign has given me some level of concern. Here’s my simple analysis.

This might sound uncommon but each time I see a Korean or Chinese or an African Speaking English or sounding so foreign without an accent it’s a beautiful thing but I say to myself this person has lost his or her identity, now if I were listening on the radio to a Korean who has an American accent I wouldn’t know he is Korean but if I see him I’d sure know he is Korean because of his looks. It’s is beautiful to have the accent of the language you intend learning, there’s nothing wrong with it.  Most often people always make fun of someone here in Nigeria if they have an accent because of their mother tongue when they speak English language like it’s a crime to have an accent which is bad, your accent tells people who you are whether we agree or not our language is our Identity and when we begin to forget it or modify it we loose its original true significance.

It may not sound so surprising that in some countries people no longer speak their native languages every one want’s to be a polyglot which is admirable, I myself want to be one but gradually some of us are forgetting our native languages and with time it can go into extinction. It sounds really strange to me to see an African person who bears only foreign names as first-name, last name and other names. Makes you look and sound all foreign one can’t even trace your roots or identity I believe that in as much we clamour to learn foreign languages we shouldn’t neglect our mother tongue. People loose their language when they don’t teach it to their young ones gradually it fades away. The more speakers of a language the more power it holds.

Not to talk of the fact that people now measure your level of intelligence to how well you speak a foreign language Like English.

Photo by Marta wave from pexels

Take pride in speaking your mother tongue

Guys, there’s beauty and pride in speaking and knowing your mother tongue and dialect! For me, it’s a struggle and I’ll get there soon, people are fixated when they hear a Language that they’ve never heard before it is so strange and the interest is ignited they want to decode and communicate better. The truth is the more you speak your mother tongue the more known it will be to the world, countries like China, France, Korea or Spain (i regard English as a general language) they’ve held onto their Language made it known that everybody wants to learn it even though colonisation was a major tool for some. 

Here in Africa Swahili, Zulu and others have become a language people want to learn. Not to mention here in Nigeria how the Yorubas and Hausas take pride in speaking their language at every moment in time.

We should all take pride in speaking our native languages and retaining our accents, it is very important, it is who we are.

We Africans need to fight, for our mother tongues not to die out. Africa is a continent full of numerous languages and we should master them, keep them and make them popular, relearn them as well even if it means teaching them in schools not just in Africa other parts of the world aswell.

PS: I speak 3 languages 😁 Igbo, English and French language. Currently learning Spanish. 😊

Lets hear your thoughts. 👇

Do you agree that many native languages are going into extinction?

What are your suggestions to curtail this Problem?

What foreign language are you currently learning?

How many Languages do you speak?

Leave a comment below and follow the blog.

Eke Ihuoma
the authorEke Ihuoma
French tutor and Translator
My name is Eke ihuoma I'm a lifestyle blogger, i love writing and sharing my thoughts, my creativity daily experiences and perception of life asides this I'm a linguist by profession, I'm enthusiastic about languages, art, music, nature, photography. I'm a visual artist aswell.

Leave a Reply