Teaching Online Contents
Place of role of a mother tongue in the teaching of English
Hay Guysss Welcome To TeachingOnline.Net
Mother Tongue-Mother tongue is the language that a child learns from his mother. He begins the learning of this language in his infancy. Mahatma Gandhi has written – ‘The mother tongue is natural for the development of the infant’s body.” It is through the skill achieved in mother tongue that the child expresses all his feelings and desires and understands the feelings and desires of others. Communication through mother tongue begins at an early stage.
Mother tongue helps the child in all kinds of thinking. With his growth, the spirit of inquiry, reasoning, analysing, elaborating, discussing and discerning groups. The child begins to learn new words, their use in their proper context and thus, acquires an ability of expression with clarity, case and correctness. All this happens in a practice at home, in and outside the classroom, in the circle of his friends with whom he plays and wherever he goes. The acquisition of these skills and the learning process in the mother tongue is unconscious but gradual.
“Mother-tongue is greatly helpful for the teaching of
foreign language, especially English language”
The use of the mother tongue in the teaching of English differs. The supporters of the Direct method forbid the use of mother tongue in the teaching of English. Some teachers say that the use of mother tongue is on obstacle to the learning of English. Others regard the co-ordination of the teaching of the mother tongue and English as one of the cardinal principles of the teaching method . This is the opinion of Ryburn too, who says that the question of the place of mother tongue in the teaching of English is not that of subordination but that of co-operation or co ordination. Hence, the co-operation of the mother tongue should be sought in the teaching of English.
Justification of the use of mother tongue-The use of the other tongue in the teaching of English has been justified by many educationists in the following manner:
(i) “If sufficient attention is paid to the teaching of mother tongue and if it is well-taught, habits may be formed in the class room which will be of greatest value in connection with the learning of English.” (Ryburn)
(ii) “A severe training in the use of mother tongue is not a vital but a necessary preliminary to training in the use of English. (Calcutta University Commission).
(iii) “A teacher may explain by means of lines and drawing using English all the time. ‘When he speaks and draws lines on the blackboard, his pupils say to themselves in their own language. “Our word for that is ‘Translation is taking place, even though the pupil has said nothing aloud.”‘ (Menon and Patel)
(iv) “Experiments and enquiries into the matter have shown that other things equal. Strength in the vernacular will mean strength in English. Improvement in the standard of work in the vernacular has shown corresponding improvement in that of English.” (“Bhatia and Bhatia”)
The above opinions bring us to the conclusion that the use of mother tongue is justified in the teaching of English. Prof. Fris by has quoted his opinion in the context of the learning of English as a foreign language. “I have found it true that learning of all languages is almost alike”.
Thus, the skill acquired in the learning of mother tongue helps in acquiring skill in a foreign language. Any emphasis laid on the mother tongue will have a good effect on the standard of English. “The teaching of mother tongue and the teaching of a foreign language can support and assist each other” says P. Guorey. “The methods, which we select and apply in the teaching of English as a foreign language, the principles that underline the methods of teaching the mother tongue underline the methods of English teaching also.”
Therefore, we may be sure, that if the mother tongue is well taught that teaching will help in the learning of a new language and if a foreign language is taught on sound lines, the training tha t it gives the pupil will promote a better understanding and a better use of mother tongue. At the school stage, “specially devised practice in the use of their mother tongue in order to acquire ability to express themselves with clarity and correctness is to be given to them. In this way, the child will acquire skill in the mother tongue and will be prepared for acquiring similar skill in learning a foreign language.
This, however, does not mean that we should make an extreme use of the mother tongue and translate each and every word phrase and sentence into the mother tongue, nor should we totally avoid the use of mother tongue. The best thing for us to do is to follow the middle path.
Help of mother tongue in teaching of English
Mother tongue can help in teaching of English in the following ways –
(1) Habit of speaking fluently-If the habit of speaking fluently has been formed in the mother tongue, it will help the student in cultivating the same habit in English also. Therefore, speeches, storytelling, plays and debates may be arranged first in mother tongue and then in English.
(2) Clear and orderly expression of thought-The habit of clear and orderly expression of thought is most important in the learning of a language. It can be easily learnt first in mother tongue and then transferred to English for instance, a piece of composition can be first put into shape in mother tongue and then written in English.
(3) To cultivate habit of reading-Habit of reading is a very important habit for the tudents. If this habit is first cultivated in mother tongue it can be easily transferred to English. A student who is fond of indulging in extra reading in mother tongue, will surely indulge in extra reading in English also. If all the students are encouraged to cultivate the habit of extra reading in mother tongue, the teacher will be glad to learn that they have formed this habit in English also.
(4) Use of mother tongue in explaining the text- It is true that all modem educationists advocate the use of Direct method in teaching English. According to this method, no word in the Text Book is to be explained through the use of mother tongue. The teacher is required to create situations which can help the students in understanding a difficult word in the text book without the use of mother tongue. Bu t a lot of time is spent in creating the required situation, while the difficult word can be explained without wasting any time in the mother tongue. So, there should be no ban on the use of mother tongue in explaining a difficult word. The principle of Direct Method of teaching English . may be followed, no doubt, but in case of a serious difficulty the use of mother tongue may be taken recourse to for explaining a difficult word. English may be mostly used while teaching English, but when there is any the difficulty of comprehension, help may be taken occasionally from mother tongue. Thus, it can strengthen the exactness of comprehension.
Conclusion-Hence, we can say that the mother tongue is of great use, in teaching each and every aspect of English. Whenever the teacher feels that there is a danger of misunderstanding or misinterpretation or waste of time and energy, he should not hesitate to use the mother tongue. Therefore, the use of mother tongue while teaching English should be encouraged. The teacher however, should make a very judicious use of it and only when there is a real need for it. He would do well to bear in mind these words of Ryburn. “The strength of the mother tongue will mean strength in English.” So the teacher should be careful from the beginning that the students should pronounce and write English words correctly.
If a teacher talks freely and fluently in his own language the pupils will also try to do so. This will effect the learning .of English also. The English teacher will give his pupils sufficient practice in speech and writing. He will provide them with sufficient opportunities in which they speak and write. He will introduce them with the similarity of sounds in two languages. Pronunciation drills, reading aloud of structures, sentences and paragraphs, either from the black board on which the teacher writes, or from their texts and conversation and discussion at a later stage are devices of developing speech habits. The same is true with writing.
In order that our children acquire proficiency in speaking, reading and writing, sufficient practice in speaking, reading and writing in their mother tongue must be given to them.
A regular practice in speech, debates, storytelling and dramatics recitation of poem etc. in their mother tongue will help in forming correct habits of writing in English. Thus, the teaching of mother tongue will continue to help in forming their speech and writing habits in English. It will also help and train them in expressing through English. Mother tongue is the constant source of supply of ideas and thoughts and inspires the children in thinking and expressing English.