The official language of Nepal is Nepali. According to the National Census of 2011, there are 123 different Nepalese languages spoken as mother tongues (first language) in Nepal. Lots of people, whose mother tongue is different from their country’s official language, find it as a barrier to learn the official language in school. And then there is a whole different challenge, speaking English. Most of the schools are teaching more subjects in English than improving the skills and knowledge of the official language Nepali itself. We would like to take up this issue as an essential basis to talk about the gap between focusing on the international language English than investing in learning a higher level in the mother tongue or the official language.
Advantages of being educated in the official language
Children who are taught only in one’s mother tongue can miss big opportunities for their future. People who cannot speak a country’s dominant language often have restricted opportunities for employment and social mobility. Literature, Movies, Media – the access to information and entertainment is limited. It has also been shown that skills and concepts taught in the learners’ mother tongue do not have to be re-taught when they transfer to a second language. Studies have shown that a learner who knows how to read and write in one language will develop reading and writing skills in a new language faster. Education systems should perform both possibilities where the official language as a subject as well as education in one’s home language are both given equal importance. That’s a question of respect for ethnic minority language and culture. But they must also ensure that children from disadvantaged minority backgrounds learn the official language to find a good place in society and get decent jobs. Furthermore, parents who do not speak the language their children are being taught in school may be less able to engage with teachers, education authorities and to help with their children’s educational needs. And then there is the question of learning English. It is definitely harder to learn a third language when you are not fully familiar with your mother tongue and the official language of your country. It’s proven, that learners automatically transfer knowledge acquired in one language to another language as soon as they have learned sufficient vocabulary in the new language. To put it plainly- be good in Nepali, then it’s easier to learn English.
To sum up, we would like to underline the message that it is absolutely important to speak first of all your mother tongue and then Nepali in an above average level. It will help you to be able to communicate with everyone in your country and to deal with government operations or/and even with the local shops around the corner. It is an investment for your cultural heritage than just focusing on learning English, which is undoubtedly a big advantage.