Mother tongue is the language that a child starts hearing after being born and thus, it also helps in providing a definite shape to our emotions and thoughts. Learning in your mother tongue also is crucial in enhancing other skills such as critical thinking, skills to learn a second language, and literacy skills.
Advantages of mother tongue in education
There are many benefits to a child learning in his/her mother tongue.
- Mother tongue makes it easier for children to pick up and learn other languages
- Mother’s tongue develops a child’s personal, social and cultural identity
- Using Mother’s tongue helps a child develop their critical thinking and literacy skills
- Skills learned in mother tongue do not have to be re-taught when the child transfers to a second language
- Self-esteem is higher for children learning in their mother tongue
- Parent-child interaction increases which help to fill the generation gap
- Studies show that children that capitalize on learning through multilingualism enjoy a higher socioeconomic status earn higher earnings
- Research shows that children learning in their mother tongue adopt a better understanding of the curriculum too.
What is important by Education in the current context vis-a-vis a living community, is educating our children in our mother tongue, i.e., Nepali. What every child does today, is go to school and learn the subjects designed per state curricula which on large scale miss out on the mother tongue of the non-English child. Children spend more of their waking time at school than home where the English language rules. Even at home, education, and entertainment through electronic devices demand English. As a new community in the US, we have strongly felt the need for native language learning. We have already observed a marked degree of communication gap between senior generation and elementary school-going children.
When a language dies, an ethnicity dies; a civilization die. When a language is lost, our culture, values, and identity will be lost. Our religion and traditions will be lost. Therefore, to keep the Nepali cultural candle burning, community leaders partnered with Organization for Hindu Religion and Culture (OHRC) and established a Nepali language learning program in Harrisburg, PA in 2014 under the leadership of founder Director, Abhi Neupane with the following objectives:
- The four skills in language learning i.e., Listening, speaking, reading, and writing will be accomplished at various levels of teaching
- Students will be assisted with the completion of their school assignments if required
- Students will actively participate in games, sports, extra-curricular activities including those from Nepal
The OHRC education team designed the curricula and modus operandi of such classes and opened admissions for elementary level students in March of 2015 and the first-ever class started on April 4, 2015, at Grace Church near Walnut St., Harrisburg, PA. The classes are designed to run for 2-3 hours every Saturday. It includes Nepali language learning, learning arts, music, and dance, and assisting the students with their school assignments. Community adults volunteer to teach the children. The staff is appointed after state criminal and child abuse clearances. There is a pre-test at the beginning of the session and a post-test at the end of each session to measure the students’ progress.
In recent years, when the number of admissions rose to over 150 students, the school moved to Southside Elementary School in 2017 from the church. In 2020, the Nepali Education school moved to the OHRC building at 5650 Lancaster St., Harrisburg, PA 17111.
For admission and other details regarding the Nepali Education program, please contact the current Director, Mr. Mahendra Adhikari, and/or Asst. Director Mr. Nabin Bhattarai.