It may not make much of a difference to his game but it helps Roger Federer talk to audiences in some countries in their native language. He speaks French, Swiss German (his mother-tongue), regular German, English, Italian, Spanish and Swedish. Surely, one can safely estimate that Federer wasn’t taught all the seven languages in school. But a unified continent, open travel and exchanges and then as a professional player could have helped that. How do children learn languages? A new born baby learns to speak her mother-tongue by the age of 2 or 3. There is no special teacher but she hears the sounds in that tongue from age 0. In addition, she also learns Hindi or another language by watching movies or TV with her parents or on her own. She even sings songs and jingles easily at a very tiny age.
Just to reiterate a fact: English is not a foreign language for India. It is merely a second language and also happens to be a global language. Therefore, for all Indians to learn English to a certain level of reasonable proficiency is highly desirable and maybe even essential. Even Narendra Modi has equipped himself with a working level of English.
At many schools in Gujarat (especially places like Rajkot) parents and teachers of English medium schools have told me “We prefer English medium but our kids cannot speak English”. I had to tell the parents that their kids go to English medium schools but what happens when they get home? At home parents watch “Saas-Bahu” soaps on TV and the kids join in. The movies they watch are mostly Hindi. Their newspapers are Gujarati. They do not watch any English programmes of any sort. Even Discovery and History channels have turned into Hindi or other Indian languages. English movies are dubbed in Hindi. By the way, even teachers in such schools talk to other teachers and students in Gujarati. So the child which doesn’t hear or listen to English except as a medium of teaching anywhere will obviously not learn to speak English well or confidently. Speaking requires listening and conversing. Writing requires reading. Many students fail to answer questions in exams just because they were not able to comprehend the question (and this affects their performance in Math and Science too). And we blabber about a foreign language as a third language? So when the HRD ministry recently replaced German with Sanskrit the usual suspects started screaming “Ideology”. That’s what you expect of foreign propagandist NDTV:
At the bottom of the pic above I have underlined a statement which may not be legible. NDTV asks “what sense does it make”? That is, what sense the change to Sanskrit makes. These same media crooks didn’t ask why German was introduced back in 2011. I am not in favour of any third language but if it had one to be then I would certainly support Sanskrit over German. The crooks offer a spurious argument about German being a global language. Since when? Fact is; Spanish is more of a global language than German is. Spanish is spoken in Europe, most of Latin America and even many govt forms in the US have Spanish. So where did this nonsense of German being a global language come from? And replacing German with Sanskrit is a matter of “ideology”? More nonsense! Does that then mean Germany mostly transacts in German because of their “ideology”? In which case what justification does it have to bring German ideology to our schools?
In 2011 an MOU was signed between the Kendriya Vidyalaya and the Goethe-Institute for Teaching of German with the approval of the then HRD minister of Congress. What were the motives of these people? Did KV students desperately want to learn German? From my interactions, where foreign languages are concerned, our high school students have a greater fascination for French rather than German. Even so, what was the outcome? Here’s a report:
Despite grand MOUs and bogus talk of being global citizens by learning foreign languages, our schools and govts are not even capable of providing teachers for the subject. We don’t produce enough teachers for even regular subjects. Mind you, I am not even talking about good, skilled teachers. They can’t even provide basic teachers. And this nonsensical fancy of govts fails because students don’t have an environment where they can hone the extra-language skills which I already explained with the Gujarat schools of English medium. To be truly learning a language students need a reasonable environment which uses that language. Students who learn German or French in later years do so better when they are better surrounded by such an environment such as the Goethe institute or Alliance Francaise where a majority of transactions and conversations are in that language. They learn it easier in a crash-course of 3 or 6 months because it’s a focused course and they teach only one language there and not with Geometry as an optional subject. Alliance Francaise has established a wide network in India for French. It seems the Germans were too lazy and wanted exploit our schools for their language promotion.
I have studied Sanskrit for two years in high school. I remember only a couple of prominent poems and verses and nothing more. I cannot read any Sanskrit book or understand the language. Our media morons think a couple of years of German will make a difference? The same will be true for teaching or learning German. Hardly any student will remember it two years later. But if I have to make a choice then I would prefer it was Sanskrit rather than German. The simple reason is a vast history of India is all in Sanskrit. It is preferable that interested students continue their pursuit and maybe become skilled in reading the Vedas or many literary works in Sanskrit. Even the Gita is in Sanskrit. But a majority of Indians have grown up reading the Gita in a translated form in English or Hindi or some other language. If there are ignoramuses in the govt and in our stupid media who think two years of Sanskrit or German will deliver some language skills to students then they are dumb poodles who know nothing about education or how children learn.
Think about how you acquired language skills at whatever level. We start learning our mother-tongue from almost age zero. We start learning a language in school (Be it English, Hindi or whichever medium) from KG (lately even Nursery) and we learn that language throughout our school years or even higher education. That’s how we acquire skills in a language; it takes 8-9 years of learning and practice to acquire a decent level of proficiency in a language. There are many students who go through school in their local language but when they have to get into medical school or a higher course they have to switch to English. Imagine the problems they face. That’s the reason Madrassa students also face problems when they get into the outer world for employment. And we are worried about German in school? This sly implementation of a foreign language into our system is what foreign govts do and our corrupt, direction-less local govts gladly oblige. I have no doubt bribes or donations may be involved to push the foreign agenda.
The bigger pity is our education ministries in the Centre and States are mostly dominated by people who don’t really understand education or children. They are mere poodles following a political agenda that has nothing to do with any ideology or real learning. There is even one Puducherry Education minister who has a case against him for exam-fraud. I would cite Anandiben Patel (the current Gujarat CM) as a rare exception who was an educationist and also a former Education Minister in the state.
Children are already burdened enough. Their subjects should be reduced and some subjects don’t even have to be tested. Their scho0l-hours need to be shortened too. Children’s brains are turned into mashed potatoes at schools leaving them no time to pursue their real talents and hobbies. In CBSE schools I have seen a written test for PE (Physical Education) but no test on the field. That’s how crazy we are. But this fake outrage by our media crooks and some other quarters over Sanskrit being imposed for “ideological” reasons is sheer empty nonsense. Those who want to learn German can do so in a 6-month crash course instead of two years at school. People study English for six months and pass TOEFL to get a certified skill level. I am against imposing more languages. But if at all there has to be an option given to students I would certainly prefer Sanskrit any day over some German or French language.
PS: A word for those who keep ranting “Sanskrit is a dead language”. It is not. The influence and elements of Sanskrit are in most Indian languages from Hindi to Tamil to Gujarati. Everyday Hindu prayers have Sanskrit (including in schools). Hindu marriages have elements of Sanskrit. It is just that Sanskrit is a rich language that is not commonly used in our daily conversations and it never was. Are Shakespeare’s plays dead? Do we speak English like in his plays? Why do they still teach that guy? If we were to speak Shakespearean English in every day life we would be considered out of place idiots. It may not be the best comparison but Shakespeare’s plays have richness in human qualities as does Sanskrit in our culture and heritage. Would the English do away with Shakespeare?