The following is a rough draft of my literacy journey-
I was born In Chennai, a city in South India. The local language in the city is Tamil; However my mother tongue is Telugu. What this meant for me was that I had a chance to learn two languages right from birth. At three, when I joined pre-school the only language I spoke was Telugu (little exposure to the outside world). This is when I ran into a problem. It was an English medium school, and the local language wasn’t my mother tongue. One day, my teacher called my parents for a meeting and ensured that I spoke only English at home from then on. Because of the above circumstances, I was able to speak three languages really early on.
But that’s just the beginning. My dad, a civil engineer, has a highly transferable job. He moves countries every two to three years, and where he goes, my whole family goes.
When I was seven years old, we (dad, mom, brother and I) moved to Barbados, a gem in the Caribbean Islands. Since I was relatively young, I picked up a local accent at the end of two years. Here I had Spanish as my second language.
I moved back to my home town for a year. Here I started learning a new language-French! It was my second language. After that we moved to Delhi, the capital of India, 2000 miles from my home town. Its like moving from New York to California, except the language was completely different. In Delhi, the local language (as well as the country’s national language) was Hindi. I was forced to adapt to the new culture and had Hindi as my third language. I continued my French education.
I moved back to my home town after a little more than two years and stayed here for another year. I was in 8th grade at this point.
Here’s where the single most influential transfer comes in. For my high school, we moved to Muscat, Oman. A beautiful country in the Middle East. The local language was Arabic. I studied French until 10th grade. I graduated from high school here.
Now, here I am at Syracuse University, new country, new people, new possibilities!
Points to Add-
- The one person I can strongly relate to is the novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie whose TED talk “The danger of a single story” really inspired me to embrace my cultural upbringing and background.
- Zadie Smith “Speaking in Tongues”
- Vacation and family trips.