In today's world, which language should an Indian parent lay stress on?
Parents in India are sometimes confronted with a dilemma. Should they send their child to an English medium school or to a vernacular medium school?
33-year-old Sanjana put her son in a Hindi medium school, and her younger daughter in an English medium school. Her younger daughter speaks English and Hindi with ease, but her son struggles with English. Seeing this, Sanjana now plans to change her son's school and put him in an English medium as well. According to Sanjana, "If a child is put in an English medium school, he would still be able to speak Hindi fairly well thanks to the daily exposure to Hindi film, Hindi music and conversations in Hindi at home with parents, grandparents or the help. But the reverse doesn't usually hold true. A child that goes to a Hindi medium school doesn't usually get a very good grasp of the English language."
Their love and pride for their motherland makes them want to opt for a Hindi or vernacular medium school, but then they wonder whether poor may prove detrimental to their children's careers later on.
It is best that you know both sides of the story, so you make an informed choice.
Appearing for entrance exams
First of all, know that most standard admission tests or entrance exams for postgraduate study like MBA, test your English skills. In fact an entire section, of such tests, is devoted to English. Similarly, if your child ever wants to study overseas in the UK, USA or Australia, he will need to prove his proficiency in English before he can gain admission.
Working with MNCs
With India fast becoming a global player, chances are by the time your child is an adult, he will have access to people from various countries and nationalities, speaking various languages. Possibly the only language that will bind them all together is English. In addition, poor English skills will not help your child get a job in the numerous multinationals mushrooming all over the country.
Writing for newspapers or magazines
Despite there being so many Hindi reading and speaking Indians in the country, the largest selling newspapers are all English newspapers. A greater number of Indians cannot read. Out of those who can read, some read Hindi, some read Marathi, some read Punjabi…. Regional papers may sell very well, but they sell well mainly in the relevant region. It follows that as English newspapers sell more copies, they have more bureaus, are bigger, have more staff, get more advertisements and pay higher salaries. In addition, the Internet has opened up a whole new medium of communication - mostly again in English. If your child ever wants to write for a newspaper, magazine or online website, chances are that he will have more options open to him if he is well versed in English.
Hindi television channels on the other hand, are doing far better than English channels. New Hindi serials are cropping up every now and again, and needless to say, the demand for Hindi scriptwriters greatly exceeds the demand for English scriptwriters. In fact almost all English serials are Hollywood imports. Similarly, Hindi movies require scripts in Hindi, and Hindi news channels, which have a greater viewership than English news channels, require newsreaders that are fluent in Hindi. Here's where a strong command over Hindi will hold your child in stead.
Fluency in both languages should be encouraged. There is no getting away from the fact that English is here to stay, and its importance and popularity are only going to increase, but make sure your child is fluent in Hindi or some other regional language too. Children who live abroad should especially be encouraged to learn their national language, so they stay in touch with their roots and culture.
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- The Indiaparenting Team