A'udhu billahi mina sh-shaytaanir-rajeem! Bismillah...

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

So, how are we learning Malayalam?

As I said many times before, Liya has begun to learn Malayalam alphabets. Though she speaks a "not so bad" Malayalam, English is still her primary language and sometimes I feel ashamed that she is not so a big fan of her mother tongue.

One thing I learned is that, English is a very simple language for kids to learn, especially to speak. There are not so many "formality" flavored words like we have in Indian languages. You can address "you" to your younger ones, grand parents, parents and teachers, while Indian languages come with whole lot of "words" to address each. I am not weighing the cultural side of it, but my observation is that if the kid learns to speak English as primary language, it's always difficult to pick up Indian languages. On contrary, it's easy to learn English for any Indian child, who is fluent with any Indian language.

Liya hasn't been a great fan of Malayalam ever, but from her toddlerhood itself, she knew one thing- speak to the people in the language they speak you to. The tiny bits of wisdom kids are born with! I really don't know where did she learn it, but the good part of it was that she tried to learn languages fast in order to converse people in their lingo. In the first year of our return from US, she began speaking Malayalam, Hindi and Telugu without losing her vocabulary in English.

She was still not so fluent in Malayalam, her mother tongue, and our move to Bangalore has given her enough reasons to master it. One thing is that we visit her grand parents quite often now, and most of the people speak Malayalam there. Even though people know English, we are always proud to converse in our mother language.  Many times, she uses wrong words in her sentences or substitute long strings of English words in Malayalam sentences which usually give everyone a good laugh.

This has indeed made her realize that learning mother tongue and local langue is equally important. If you are likely to live in different parts of India, you can not survive if you know only English. We personally want her to master Malayalam - writing, reading and speaking because Malayalam is known for its rich literature. You can find profound writings and inspiring discussions at any corners of the state. Probably, the only state of India were people are empowered with education, without any "class" differences. Knowing the language will only be advantageous to the children of the land.

The next hurdle was getting her write Malayalam letter which is no doubt is very difficult for a kid who learned English alphabet from schools who teach via modern techniques, and probably each letter is learnt by singing "standing lines and sleeping lines...". In Malayalam, you can not even write a single letter using the mantra "standing lines or sleeping line". It has only curves, circles and semi circles and overlapping of them.

She is very adamant that she has to learn it. I have googled a lot for traceable Malayalam alphabets worksheets, and came across a website which lists all vowels and consonants of popular Indian languages in printable format. We did try. Liya is happy and so we!

If you're a parent looking for worksheets for your preschooler to start with tracing alphabets of Indian languages, I strongly recommend this website


  1. We are there with Arabic right now. It's not my mother tongue of course but I feel so much pressure. Getting useful learning tools is what I love best about the

  2. I agree, learning English is simple for them and in my case, Marathi grammer (diff verbs for he/she etc) is getting tough for him to learn

  3. She is still small enough to catch up language quickly. It's good that you are all working together on this. Language is important.
    I am starting speaking english to Mister Pop and try bits of Arabic, but first I should deepen my knowledge of this language!
    Stay well Nishane. love to both.


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