The cult of foreign language


The world being a global village is a cliche that continues to dominate conversations here and beyond.

Aptly, it is a misguiding theoretical construct that only serves to benefit the rich as it pushes the larger poor individuals to the periphery.

In an African sense, a village serves both proximity needs as well as social entitlements. In other words, in an African village, you would definitely reach out to a neighbor for a gallon of flour to toughen your dough in the middle of a cuisine! I am to be convinced whether this is possible in our current noise of global village.

Utility of foreign language has been advanced as that with bounty havens. Narrow-mindedly, a case has been advanced on this pointing at participation in global agenda and enhanced trade deals among different clans of the so-called global village.

When colonialists left Africa, many patriots of the time believed in a foreseeable freedom. This was never to be.

Colonies have remained under the yoke of colonial language of their masters. British colonies still maintain English while French colonies have stuck to French as a language of instruction in all aspects of its economy.

This is abhorrent.

When devolution was introduced in Kenya there was a proposal that local languages within various counties be used within assemblies during sessions. This was slung away not on the basis of in-viability but on a flimsy reasoning that legislation is done in English and/or Kiswahili and that assembly belongs to those with language proficiency- a funny discovery that proficiency can only be with specific languages.

The major proponents of this ideology, perhaps- so that it doesnt sound adverse, belong to a highly colonized group who have sung praises for the colonialists and believe in their supremacy up to the point of language.

No language is superior and the mere fact that it is spoken widely does not make it any better. Who says philosophy or other cannot be taught in a local language?

The point I am making is that so much is lost when instruction is given in a foreign language which delays action.

Didn’t you hear teachers of English say their subject was the mother of all? As the learning takes place, the learner is first tasked with interpretation of the language or just understanding the meaning before the actual learning takes place.

This takes quite some time and especially in a setup where life expectancy has greatly reduced. Just in case you would take this line of argument pedestrian, the fear to err in your foreign language perhaps to the dismay of your children- would make you refrain from giving simple instruction. You arent quite sure whether it is going to sleep in bed or on bed and so the child sits late in the couch soaking in filthy social media in the name of catching up with global village trends!

Our local languages should be embraced because they not only give non-ambiguous instructions but are laced with cultural norms that define us.

Local dialects are rich and riches are wealth.

It is at the primary unit-family, where this should start. Unfortunately, most parents today fancy it when a grade two kid says, I have done my home fun exceedingly well and you are expected to clear my fee arrears expeditiously. But as for me and my household, we shall keep to local language.

Awuor W. Akello

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