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I feel so much pain when I meet British people of colour who cannot speak their parents language. The reason in the vast majority of cases is that the parents were told that speaking their language at home would ruin their child's ability to learn English. THREAD.
Firstly, this is laziness on the part of the teachers. Why not put more effort into teaching the child who needs help learning English? Is it really worth erasing their right to an identity for your own convenience?
So many of my friends who even went to British schools outside the UK struggle to speak their parents language for this reason. Heck, even I struggled because I went to a British nursery and was made to forget Arabic until I re-learned it at school years later.
I remember having so much catching up to do at school when compared to my classmates because no effort was made to accommodate the fact that I spoke a different language to the other kids at nursery, but at least I went to school with lots of Arabs and learned Arabic later.
So many of the kids I studied with however only spoke Arabic, Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, or some other language with their families at home and only spoke English at school and grew up perfectly bilingual.
Imagine living in the UK, where English is spoken everywhere and not just in school. How can teachers actually tell families that their kids won't learn English if they speak Yoruba at home? It is such a lazy and privileged position to take!
My mother only really learned English in her teens in the US, but still speaks both English and Arabic perfectly fine because her parents were not asked to drop speaking Arabic at home. Same with my uncle and aunt.
Sure, it may take a little longer, but honestly it is not worth sacrificing a child's ability to identify with their parents because of expedience in the classroom. Teachers have a duty of care and part of care is letting the students engage with their history.
I pray that all of those people who never learned their parents language when they were children manage to learn it, and that this kind of laziness and destructive teaching is left to the past.
I should clarify that I am certainly not one to criticise teachers as a profession, especially in the current climate where they really are being short-changed by the government, but this prioritising of English is such a strong example of racism in the educational system.
For my part, I will do my best to help anybody who wants to learn any of the languages that I can speak. It is your identity and it is your right.
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