Oops! My Child Cannot Speak Yoruba

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Or is your worry the opposite? They cannot speak nor understand Ibo, Hausa, Edo or any of the other numerous languages spoken in our vast and varied land, Nigeria! It’s weird though that in a land rich in culture made up of a people who speak over two hundred different languages, we are fast eroding our way of life by producing children who cannot speak their native tongue!

Alright, let me just be honest with you, I am just as guilty! My children can barely greet their elders properly in Yoruba! This is a bad state of being, and I will tell you why? If an English man said to you, ‘My children don’t speak English’ You would find it strange. In France and maybe Switzerland for example, a lot of people may speak English but they also speak their native tongues and so do the Chinese and Japanese and Kenyans.

Nigerians are the only ones I find in the world who are comfortable with throwing away our languages without a second thought. Oh, I get it that  English is the main and official language of the nation, but please don’t let us lose it all just because of that. (Remember, I am talking to myself as well.)

It is important to actively help our children learn their own language. Children are actually better language learners than adults, so please we need to engage them in learning their language just as much as they are learning the official language. If we the adults can speak Yoruba, Ibo, Hausa, etc. as well as English so can they.

We just need to be more intentional in how we go about helping them learn.

Let them start off during the holidays to learn songs in your native language, they will love that. You can teach them a couple of words. Try not to translate back into English. I started this idea a while back with my children and they loved it, which was that, Friday would be our Yoruba day. So you can pick a day that is convenient for you all as your native languages’ day. Use this one day to develop great language skills in your native tongue.

Let me tell you a  secret I believe that in the next couple of decades the top earners may well be those who can speak English and a few other languages, especially the indigenous languages. So my take is, don’t miss the opportunity to help your child, and help the nation as well. Let us preserve our languages for posterity.

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