Broken English

Written by Praneeta Katdare

I studied in a vernacular medium school till 10th grade and in a class of 80 none of us could speak English as fluently as other students coming from other English Medium schools. Yet, so many of my classmates bullied those who made mistakes while talking to others in English. My friends in my neighbourhood made fun of my miserable attempts of talking to them in English.

After 10th grade I joined one of the top colleges if the city where everyone spoke in English. I was 39th on their list. As soon as I entered the college, the insecurity of not being able to speak fluent English which had found its roots in early years of my life was now taking full form. At that time, I was academically better than 3/4th of the students admitted to that college on the criteria they used for admissions and yet, for next 5 years, I never thought of myself as competent as others.

I don’t think if you get the severity of this problem? A bunch of 15 year olds bullying others for not knowing something that they themselves don't know perfectly shouldn’t be acceptable. What do you think where it comes from? It begins with us. Through everyday events, we teach our children, to be ashamed of ourselves. We indirectly tell them that their ideas don't matter if they can't express them in a particular language. I know English is an important language in the world, but we can’t let that language decide a person’s worth.

I have come a long way. I have made significant improvements in my language skills in the last few years, I even write poetry in that language. But I still think twice before speaking up in a hall full of people speaking English and trust me I still don't know what to do about it. Because, when we make fun of others on the basis of their language, the issue doesn't remain about the language anymore. How does one undo the damage that has been done to their confidence in their formative years?

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