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Why Do Indian Software Engineer Parents Talk To Their Kids In English?

By on Aug 13, 2011 | 26 comments

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Go to any software cities in India wiz. Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Noida and so on – you will notice a common trend among the software engineering parents with < 6 year old kids. Without fail, they communicate with their kids in English. I sometimes wonder whether there’s a plot for eradicating all local languages from India. Speaking in one’s mother tongue is rapidly becoming a sign of not being ‘educated’ or ‘cool’.¬† I don’t understand this connection of speaking in English and being ‘forward’ and ‘modern’.

English Speaking Parents

English Speaking Parents

I’ve noticed this on many occasions. At the Gym when I turn on “Marathi” news channel, people turn their heads and look at me as if I don’t belong to their class. My natural reaction is to increase the volume and look back at them with a smile and try to communicate with them in Marathi, even when I know they don’t know my language. They usually reply in English to which I respond in Marathi. I somehow find joy in using my own language and I’m proud of it.

Coming back to the point – I wonder why can’t we treat English as ‘third’ language in this country? The first – for local communication should be your mother tongue. Second could be a widely spoken Indian language Hindi and third should be English. The trend seems to be exact reverse. I fail to understand why we undervalue everything that’s our own. Our language, our clothing, our products, our nation.

When kids speak in English and have difficulty in communicating in our own mother tongue we look at them with such a deep appreciation. On numerous occasions I’ve resisted my urge to slap all such software engineer parents. When they communicate with their kids in English, there’s heads are high and there’s a feeling of being proud. They act as if it was God’s mistake that they were incorrectly made to born to Indian parents who didn’t speak English.

I’ve often admired Germany & Japanese for sticking to their own language. Indians, on the other hand would never learn good things from them. I believe Indians aren’t mentally ‘independent’ yet. Mental slaves, we are. Worse – we take pride in it.



26 Comments

  1. Suyash Joshi

    August 13, 2011

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    Completely Agree with you… I also hate it when people don’t talk in their own mother tongue and instead choose to speak in English, even in informal situations. It’s not like I can’t speak English, but give me a break guys !
    Start speaking in your mother tongue before its too late, and make sure your children don’t lose their Indian connect and become disconnected entities of the so called generation Y ūüôĀ

  2. Kamal Kannan

    August 15, 2011

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    Absolutely…Hundreds of likes for this post. I have also felt many times to slap the stupid parents who talk with kids in English. I just could not understand why they never saw it the way I do. Who told them that speaking English is cool?? Its just another tool to communicate.
    Having said that I DO NOT agree with you on the part of Hindi being the second language. Regional Language locally and English officially is the way to go.

  3. Anamika

    August 18, 2011

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    It should be mother tongue, english and then maybe hindi.
    Don’t impose hindi on us ūüôā

      • Alamelukrishnan

        September 7, 2011

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        I completely agree with Prasad since I have faced issues with my little one when she knew only our mother tongue and we had moved to Visakhapatnam. She found it very difficult for months before she picked up a little of the local language and of course English which allowed her to be herself in the new place.

        Mother tongue is very important but English also is important especially when you move from one state to another in India where there are so many local languages.

        • The Big K

          September 8, 2011

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          @0a030cb6859c294b50d0d1bd606976ee:disqus
          : It’s always good to hear from you ūüôā . All I’m saying is that mother tongue should be the #1 preference for communication at least within the family or those who understand the language. English should be treated #2.

          In my opinion, it’s the responsibility of parents to make their kids fluent equally in #1 Mother tongue and #2 English.

  4. nikhi menon

    August 21, 2011

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    completely agree with you big k,even in south india,especially kerala ,there are many who (believe me,a top school in kochi,once even went on and made all their students wear a badge which read something like this ‘talk to me only in english, and not in malayalam!’) consider their mother tongue inferior to english.

  5. Sharavani

    August 23, 2011

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    it doesn’t help when people promote their movies using english words, and not even using a proper indic script, like ‘mere brother ki dulhan’… seriously, just use bhaiya, stop anglicizing everything, it sucks. that’s why i hate most bollywood movies, trying to copy american themes and words and they talk in english half the time. the most recent and good bollywood movie i’ve seen was swadesh, really, swaha desha, if you want to sanskritize it…now that was a great and genuine movie about maintaining your traditions.

  6. MV

    August 26, 2011

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    Its the marketing of the language which was done as a superior one. And worst, we bought it. Would reccomend a fantastic website called http://www.hinduism.co.za. Not my website. Its not a pro hindu, but very strong on which language your mind should follow.
    Thanks.

  7. Prasad

    August 31, 2011

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    I take a different point of view than this. Being a parent of two kids, one of which can speak equally well in English as well as Marathi.

    Some reasons as to why this might be –
    1. Common media which is palatable for small children has changed from books to videos (I am a strong supporter of reader, but who is going to read when Youtube is available :-().  Also, most of this media is of a way better quality in English as opposed to the local languages (heck, that applies to even Wikipedia!!)
    2. Marathi channels are talking about issues which are no longer relevant to the future generation (atleast in metros). We watch the marathi channels, but seriously, do you really expect me to enjoy watching Kunku as compared to Masterchef Australia (which run pretty much on the same time slot). Yes programs like Idea Sa Re Ga Ma are good and my kid enjoys singing along on some of the songs, but thats about it.
    3. Each generation is smarter than its predecessor. What entertains the current masses is not the staple entertainment of the next generation … it’s not only about the “coolness” factor, its evolution. Can’t stop and grumble about it, if marathi channels can’t keep up, their loss.

    Another observation –
    Languages are meant for the sole purpose of communication. Any language will die if it does not keep up with the current trend (hence oxford comes up with updates to its dictionary). The local languages on the other hand, I dont know whether such an authority exists. Of course local cultural societies try to maintain the culture. But the thing about culture, is that it is meant to change. Can’t preserve it … that’s not culture, that’s tradition.

    If you speak to someone who does not know marathi, then the purpose of marathi is defeated Biggie :-). The approach you are suggesting is being practiced in Chennai … where they speak Tamil (and frown upon anyone who doesnt), in fact they are often discriminated upon. After that comes English and in the end comes Hindi. Effectively all those people who come to live in Chennai find it a hostile and a humid place. It becomes an unwelcome place. Believe me, I tried a month there and I was sick of the autowallahs, and the localites who expected me to speak in their tongue. Really?? Is this the way you want to treat your guests? Make them feel unwelcome? Am I not your fellow citizen? Aren’t we all Indians? Then why are you discriminating on the basis of local language? I think this is the same problem with Mr. Thackeray.

    That’s why there is a need for Hindi as a national language. The same thing applies to English when seen from the international perspective. Obviously, you really cant expect me to type such a long comment in Hindi (or Marathi :-)).

    • Durga

      September 1, 2011

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      I cannot but agree with Prasad. The reason being personal experience. My husband hails from Bengali family and I hail from a Telugu family, if either of us would have stuck to our own mother tongues, then I don’t know if we could talk to each other’s families. I don’t relate the concept of Japanese/German and French talking on their languages and still advance. They have a common language for their ‘country’ , we don’t have any such language. 50% India, is ready to adopt English rather than Hindi.They feel Hindi is imposed on them, rather then considering it as a means of communication.

      • meghnas

        November 7, 2011

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        Right on the dot their mate ! I too am of the view that English as a language helps to bridge barriers with my wife . She is Australian and I am of Indian Origin and we do not have any other language in common . Why does it matter to the author ¬†if ¬†anybody talks ¬†in English at home ? It is none of your business Mr. Author ! The exact reason i want my children to learn English at home is that i want them to be proficient in that language and consider it their own . As they say ¬†learning begins at home . Speaking to my children helps them to be comfortable with the English Knowledge and helps them treat it as their first language . It makes it easy for them to speak in English and helps them avoid basic grammatical errors with regard to the use of articles , prepositions , adjectives , ¬†degrees ¬†etc. and also helps them improve their pronunciation as they are being monitored and taught at home . ¬†People who don’t speak English at home and consider it as a second language are ¬†generally the ones who ¬†face a reasonable amount of difficulty in The English language . No wonder i see so many Vernacular language speaking Professors in Colleges and Universities these days who claim to have and boast of their Masters or P.H.D in some discipline but are incapable of noticing their grammatical errors when they speak . ¬†English should be spoken properly just like any other language should and one more thing ,Regarding the Marathi and Hindi news channels lol ¬†you’ve got to be kidding me ! Do they ever show anything decent and sensible ? What was that again ? Chain se sonaa hai to jaag jaaye lol and that weird news of either gang rapes or incest …… They are the Fox News of the East ! ūüôā

        • The Big K

          November 7, 2011

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          Bah!

          I’m happy you found my blog. Frankly speaking, you should first have figured out that this blog has been written in the Indian context and it’s *obvious* that parents who speak different languages have to decide which language their kid speaks. I’d not tolerate an American/Australian/European objecting to this post because it’s *not* meant for them. They *should speak English – because its *their* language.¬†

          I am talking about Indian parents who speak the same, non-English language but use English to converse with their kids; and mostly they do it because Indians have been conditioned by Brits to think that ‘English’ means advanced!¬†

          By the way, why do you speak your wife’s language? Instead of *you* learning *her* language, why not make an effort to make *her* speak *your* language? ūüôā

          PS: My Marathi friend speaks in Hindi with his wife. I just wish he made her speak Marathi.

          PPS: [quote]It is none of your business Mr. Author ![/quote] 
          The world is my business; and it’s none of your business to make comments about my business.

          *I feel good*

        • Kandrjoshi

          November 7, 2011

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          Ha Ha Ha, Melbourne University graduate giving wisdom about English and bragging about his proficiency of English, apprently does not even know what P.H.D stands for? Its not P.H.D, it is Ph.D!!!! Just wondering what you think H in your P.H.D stands for?

  8. i am new here ..big K

    October 13, 2011

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    Though i have seen a lot of ‘S/W parents speaking english with their kids’cases in bangalore.
    There is another major issue here…its hard to find any kannadiga (born in karnataka) on bangalore streets.Its like i have to ask if they know kannada first n then initiate talks.
    I am not against the large scale migration of my north ppl down here.
    But i want ppl to respect other culture n language not only that learn a lil bit of language
    while they are here.
    its like when in rome kinda thing ūüėõ

  9. Rahul Marathe

    November 14, 2011

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    Very Well…I can expect this from a Martahi Only..U must be a MNS supporter…I dont understand when the man infront of u doesnt understand marathi then y u reply him in that language…use a neutral language which u both undrstnd….its all about communicating not language….u r mentally sick…

  10. Shishir

    November 23, 2011

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    Amazingly Frank article! Its bad that parents speak english to their kids, but they have little choice. Its very unfortunate that to be successful in India today, you need to be very good in English, and hindi is not important. Very ironically, its different here in the west, where people with little knowledge of english (Europeans, Chinese) often do better than us. 

    You won’t believe it, but here, many times I have felt ashamed at my near perfect english grasp and the inability to speak hindi without using english words in between.

    • The Big K

      November 23, 2011

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      I don’t think you need English to ‘succeed’. That’s what we’re told since childhood. If English was necessary – Japan & Germany wouldn’t have been able to achieve anything. China is already on its way to becoming superpower.

  11. Shishir

    November 23, 2011

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    And those that have written that after mother tongue, english should be 2nd and hindi 3rd, you’re ready to place a foreign language over the language of your own brothers/neighbours! Shows insecurity/double standards.

  12. Anees Ebrahem

    January 31, 2012

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    AGREE! Just because English might be a global language doesn’t mean it has to replace the mother tongue. What kind of nation is this? A country which refuses to speak it’s own languages because that’s what, as one girl said, for maids and poor people?
    Higher education should be provided in regional languages. Many Indian languages have 35-70 million speakers there should be no reason why you can’t learn in your native tongue. It’s proven you’ll learn it better. English can still be learned as a second language.

    • The Big K

      January 31, 2012

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      English is not at all a global language. Only select few countries out of 200+ countries on the Earth are native English speaking countries. English should be the second or third language, ideally.

  13. Satsingh

    April 7, 2012

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    I completely agree,we should speak our own language and be proud of it.Even big stars speak in English on Hindi TV channels.Its very upset when one person speaks in Hindi and reply comes in English.It sound so funny.I dont think it will ever change.   

  14. Totally agree,face such incidence many times.I am not against English, surely its essential for global point of view,but every kid really need to know its local language.I think such parents trying to build a factory of talent peoples which will export to major countries. I really appreciate about Japaneses peoples.They have their own empire !!! We really need to learn good things from them.They do & die for their country.

  15. I appreciate those parents who speak English with their children. They know well where the future of their kids lies. After caste language is most divisive force in India. There is an impending threat of National disintegration. Indian languages have their roots in casteism. Indian languages grew in a particular context. Language in India is a resting ground for casteism. There should be only one language. C. Rajagopalachari points out effectively that’ Goddess Sarswati gave birth to all global languages and English is the gift of the goddess to India'(1950). Pundit Nehru also remarked that ‘English is a window to world-knowledge’. English is an Indian language, because it is the mother tongue of the Anglo-Indian, and they are Indians.

    • The Big K

      May 13, 2015

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      Dear Mr. Ganvir,

      First of all, please get your facts right. English is NOT an Indian language. Your argument that languages have roots in castism is flawed too. I’d like to know whether those who talk about castism are ready to abandon casts and all the ‘benefits’ that come associated with them?

      English is NOT the window to world knowledge. If that was true, China, Japan, Germany, France, most of Europe, Israel wouldn’t be able to achieve anything. These countries still continue to teach their kids in their own languages and yet they’ve prospered more than India.

      Please get rid of the mental slavery induced by the Brits.

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