Recently my daughter recorded her voice in this video reading text from one my favourite social sites, next2friends.
I would like to clarify that my parents are monolingual. Neither of them speaks English. Not a word. It was school and environment that taught me and my siblings languages. It is probable that she has inherited some traits or talent, but childhood experience tells me that it need not be true in many cases also.
When I say language in this case, do not think English, Mandarin, Swahili or the 250 spoken languages in the world. Think language of communication: how we are able to empower the child or ourselves to pave the way for growth and development.
You can be speaking in English but if you cannot express your needs, you are not communicating. You are going nowhere basically. Let’s take an example. A 2 year old child is learning to put on his shoes. He is pre-nursery and does not know how to match his foot with the correct shoe. In a class of 10 or 15, it is easy to watch and learn what others are doing. He makes impressions from what he sees in his head and starts to act. When he comes home, the impressions help him to perform the same life skill activity which he has learnt at school.
The problem comes when he is performing an activity which is of his own, which has not been shown at school. (I do not use the word taught, as we already know, children teach themselves and grow from within.) One such example is washing his hair. This he will have to depend on his parents or caregivers.
So you see, having a child who is potentially talented at speaking many languages does not mean that she is also competent in other life skills or experiences. She loves her hair but hates the idea of having to wash it, because it takes too much effort. It needs shampoo and conditioner, and then drying, combing and tying or braiding. By the time she gets out of the shower, she is already exhausted. So the next few tasks of dressing up are more daunting than they are enjoyable.
What is the point of all these?
If we keep thinking I need to speak this or that language in order to progress, then we are missing out on the purpose of learning langauges. It is supposed to be used for communication: to ask for help, to request permission, to unite people in a community. There are children who are born autistic and therefore have problem with speech. The role of language in essence is to empower the child and ourselves with the skills to speak, write, read or listen. Many deaf bloggers are writing, many people who are mute are sign language experts and can read lips. They are the intelligent voice over artists in our societies.
That said, we also know that language also teaches people to explore other subjects of interest, astronomy, mathematics, culture, sports, geography, history and sociology. Language is as mobile as the humans who created them. Plus the thing about man, the human being, is that he is able to learn every movement to make himself useful, that includes, putting a pillow under his head to sleep! Of course, that leads to inactivity.
In the wake of the global economic meltdown, many people are worried about how else to earn money. If you are good with spoken languages you can try Voice Over. One article even says this,” natural talent has very little to do with voiceover”. Sell yourself as the human resource if you have nothing tangible right now.
If you just type the phrase “Voice Over”on the search below, you will see there are indeed so many opportunities open for speakers of different languages around the world. You may not even have to travel. If you do not have a voice great enough for the job, you can write a little or take surveys.
Search for opportunities for voice over jobs and businesses.
“The ears are not complete until it is used.”
Maria Montessori, The Absorbent Mind.
The same can be said about our other senses. Do not let the global economic crises turn your attention off from what we have been born with to use – our mind and abundance of human resource skills.
This post was first published on October 14, 2008 – 4:18 am.