Should we use local native Indian language like Hindi or Tamil to teach French?
Languages are mysteries of the human world which we either use to communicate or to know a culture in a better way. Knowing a language also opens the door to its literature and art. When speaking in English is still seen as a symbol of being educated in our society, it’s high time that we break these illusions and stereotypes and move towards our own native Indian languages and what’s more courageous to learn another foreign language, French along with it. What is more wonderful when we connect our Indian languages and French all together in a class of FLE.
As French and mostly all our Indian languages come from the same family of the Indo-European tree of languages, it becomes more important and easier to use them together. As I already mentioned that a foreign language teacher has always a dual role to play in teaching, i.e. first and obvious teaching the language and secondly comparing and explaining the norms and cultures of both nations to the students. At the beginners level, when learning alphabets and basic French pronunciation of Pairs and typical sounds can be easily written in Hindi or in Indian languages like Bengali, Tamil and so on. Few sounds are even difficult to write and remember in English like gn ( न्य ) , an, on (ओं ). Moreover, a student understands in a better way if explained in his mother tongue or in a language he is more comfortable.
Spreading the Francophone language in our country we also need to remember the huge amount of students in government schools and others coming from lower strata of society who finds it equally difficult in learning and speaking English. So shall they be derived in learning French? Should we really state learning French as a matter of elites. No, as English is more common than French and learning it increases the job possibilities even more. To bring these students in the mainstream society, to increase the job possibilities and specially to make them the skilled person, we have to make them learn French in their own way, their own language, that’s Hindi or any other native language. If we could teach them a foreign language which is still less spoken than English ,their chances of getting job will increase in today’s world of modernization. Even in few other cases, there are incidents with students from many metropolitan cities, where they unable to understand many words in French class when their meanings were said in English. That means, one has to search the English word initially and then the French word whereas if it’s in Hindi then it will be direct.
The conjugation concept of French language often confuses the students in the beginning and here comes the role of our ancient Indian languages and nothing more beautiful than Sanskrit which still has the conjugation tricks and when used in French too, it makes super easy for them. The another similarity we see in our native Indian languages and French is the gender based language. Where we hardly get any traits of gender in English l leaving the basic male and female vocabularies. We all know how French as a language is very much based upon the gender of each noun just like the Indian languages like Hindi. In topics such as les Adjectifs Possessif, the rule is much similar in Hindi (the use of adjective possessive is according to the gender of the noun and not of the speaker for example in French ton père, ta mère in Hindi (तुम्हारे पापा, तुम्हारी माँ) which is totally different in English ( the use of possessive adjective is according to the speaker, for example : his mother, her father) . Even as I wrote earlier, the nouns have a gender in French and in our few native languages whereas in English we don’t have. For example, (le train arrive) in French ( ट्रेन आ रही है|) in Hindi and ( the train is coming) where we can get the gender of the train in French and Hindi, we are not getting in English. The speaker if taught in Hindi by giving an example of noun in a French sentence, understands better than in English.
In a higher level the mother tongue of the native Indian speaker becomes more important in his lifetime. It’s only the knowledge of a foreign language which increase the hunger and thirst of a student to know more intricate things of his own language. Many researchers and translators have used this subjects, they have compared the works of many great authors and translated from mother tongue to French and vice versa. There are works of Franco Indian authors such as Toru Dutt (first Indian woman French novelist) who wrote in French originally and later after many years writers translated her works in her mother tongue, Bengali. For the intermediate level , students could be given sentences for translation or as an activity they could be given songs to translate in French from their native languages or vice versa. For making the class of FLE more enjoyable, students can sing these songs too. In French literature class, the teacher might compare the works or movements of French literature with our Indian writers and how French themes have influenced our Indian literature and eventually our thoughts from time to time.
In conclusion, according to me, French as foreign language can be very much taught in an Indian society using our native Indian languages. For achieving this, the teachers need to be more innovative and flexible. Yes, it’s quite challenging too at times but nothing is impossible. Where we are making the French better for our students on the other hand it’s improving our Hindi or mother tongue too. It’s giving us the opportunity to atleast think differently and fill up those voids or gaps in our own language learning.
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Courtesy : Abhishek Nandi