So, in 1999, UNESCO proclaimed February 21st as International Mother Language Day to promote cultural diversity and multilingualism across the globe. This is because we are gradually loosing touch of our true native roots and identity.
However, preserving your mother language matters for many personal, social, intellectual, educational and economic reasons; which includes—
1. To strengthen your cultural identity and family ties
Maintaining your mother language is critical to your identity and contributes to a positive self-concept. The Intercultural Development Research Association (IDRA) reiterates that continuing to study your mother tongue after childhood helps you learn how to value your culture and heritage. For parents, keeping your first language alive at home teaches children to take pride in their culture and roots.
In terms of its value in social interactions, speaking your first language can strengthen ties with family members. If the native language isn’t maintained, important links to family members may be lost. Parents of young children should encourage using their mother language to prepare the child to interact with their native-language.
2. To broaden their horizons
For global citizens who plan to return to their home country in the future, better employment opportunities are available if you remain fluent in your mother language. Communicating and dealing with local colleagues and clients will be easier, too.
So answer this question; Why Can’t your children speak in their mother tongue fluently? In the past children spoke Nigeria’s indigenous languages such as Yoruba, Igbo, and Hausa fluently and unashamedly. However, today, the complete opposite is the case. Kids and even adults can barely communicate without adding a bit of English.
This goes a long way to show that our native languages could be at risk of extinction. Parents don’t speak their mother tongue to their children anymore. Many Nigerian children nowadays, can hardly speak their mother tongue fluently.
For families that lives abroad, encouraging speaking in your native language should be prioritized. When children step out of the house, they can revert to speaking English, but in the house, whether in Nigeria or abroad, speaking of our native language should be made compulsory.
It is not uncivilized, It is our Indentity!
Many people believe that you are uncivilized or local if you speak your mother tongue. So, in other to join the bandwagon and be accepted, they ditch their native language for English. This is all in the name of being civilized. Children have also been caught in this web.
Indigenous languages should be made compulsory in primary and secondary schools
While English is compulsory in secondary schools today, the indigenous languages are not. Even though a child must study one of these languages; children will think the languages are a joke. Hence, they won’t bother to learn or speak it.
In some schools today, our native languages are banned because they are considered as vernacular. A child who speaks his or her mother tongue would be penalized. So from the formative years of these children, they already have the perception that speaking their mother tongue is bad.
The Technology Factor:
In Nigeria today, we realize that the interaction of children with technology is entirely in English language. Their smartphone, video games, laptop and other tech gadgets are all in English. So since many of them spend so much time with these gadgets, they don’t have anything to do with their native languages. Thankfully most tech gadgets now have been designed with the inclusion of our native languages; but we all still just rather use English anyways 🤷🏾♀️.
Therefore; it is important for parents to train their children in their formative stages with their mother language. Such knowledge of our indigenous languages will build the confidence of the children whenever they visit their community or country home if they live outside their state.
HAPPY INTERNATIONAL MOTHER LANGUAGE DAY!