Why is my child not interested in speaking Marathi?

child and mother in forest

The life of an immigrant parent is not easy, to say the least. Figuring out and managing the day-to-day in a completely new culture and country is a daunting challenge. And at the end of the day, when you try to talk about your culture and language, your child is not interested in speaking Marathi.  

An unfamiliar language

First off, for children of immigrant parents, Marathi is not a familiar language. The grammar is completely different and the pronunciations are foreign. Apart from conversing with family members, children living outside of India have limited opportunities to experience a full language immersion. Parents always receive advice that by only speaking Marathi at home, the child will pick up the language. While this notion is partially true, more often than not, it leads to the child understanding Marathi but being unable to speak it. So, many parents rely on textbooks to help ease the process. 

However, in such cases, Marathi textbooks are of limited benefit because of a multitude of reasons. Learners living in India are the target audience of typical Marathi textbooks. Many such textbooks focus on breaking down grammar and the Devanagari script into simpler concepts. Although it may seem like the perfect option to supplement learning, children living outside of India usually find it overwhelming to begin learning the language this way. They are unable to relate what they are reading to what they hear at home.  The entirely new script and the method of explaining concepts is a big reason for their disinterest.  

Examples are not relatable

Textbooks often use outdated or unrelatable examples to help understand the language. For example; in many Marathi textbooks the vowel Aa (आ) is taught with the reference of an aavaḻa (आवळा). While this makes sense to someone living in India, most of the children living outside of India have never even seen an aavaḻa. So how can we expect them to remember it? When we teach A for Apple in English, they are able to relate to it. This is because they can visualise an apple in their brain immediately. But if a child has never seen something, the brain is unable to form a visual memory using that information. And thus children, through no fault of their own, are unable to find the language relatable. 

Marathi textbooks do not often concentrate on conversational Marathi, but rather on academic learning. This is more than acceptable in India since teaching a conversational language is not the primary goal in schools. We assume that children will learn to speak by interacting with people in society. So, textbooks focus more on writing in Devanagari and teaching grammar, all of which assumes that children already know the basics of the language. But this is often not the case for children living outside of India. 

Fixing the problem

The next time your child is not interested in speaking Marathi, work on how relatable the language is to them. Most available resources available fall short of this. It is no one’s fault, but, it definitely warrants a new approach and teaching method.

Speak Marathi addresses all these points through the courses we provide. We concentrate on the conversational aspect of Marathi, while ensuring that students have fun while learning. Contact us to book a free demo lesson today!  

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