Posts Tagged ‘language’


So you speak Gujarati and he speaks Bengali. Or maybe your spouse is not Indian but speaks Spanish, Russian or Japanese.  And let’s just assume you don’t speak each other’s language so you speak English when you’re together.  What’s your policy with the kids?

In my case, I speak Telugu but my husband speaks Kannada – languages which are eerily similar (I can even read Kannada – no problem) – but which similarity may be even more confusing for the kids (I say dosa, he says dose.  I say kappa, he says kappe (frog)).  So you can imagine the linguistic dissonance when we’re spending time as a family!

The most logical approach would be for me to speak Telugu to the kids, and for him to speak Kannada – thereby rendering our kids blissfully trilingual.  But this is complicated by several factors:  (1) I spend more time with the kids – so they naturally end up speaking way more Telugu; (2) my husband and I speak English to each other (resulting in a rather comical switching of languges depending on who-is-addressing-who at that precise point in the sentence); and (3) given the scarcity of time outside of school/work, I find myself “hogging up” most of this time to push the Telugu.

There doesn’t seem to be an easy solution.  What’s your policy?  We ask the question on our Facebook Page – so let’s collaborate with some ideas!


** It’s a Duel **

Well, sort of.  We keep getting emails and requests about how we should have products in (insert) Language.

So we’ve narrowed it down to the 4 most popular requested languages and we’re staging a contest.  Basically, if you want products in your language, WE NEED TO HEAR YOU!

Gather your friends, family, nearest & dearest and make as much noise as you can by doing one (or all!) of the following:

* Vote in our Facebook Poll
*  Become a fan
of our Facebook Page
*  Leave a comment
after the Poll about which product(s) you want to see
*  Write
on our Wall

Don’t do Facebook?  Send us an email to inspire{at}gnaana{dot}com and we’ll use it when we tabulate the results.

Results are coming in fast – so remember, MAKE SOME NOISE if you want your language!

The suspense is killing us!

We’ll announce the results in about 7-10 days.


If you’re committed to teaching your kids your native language, reading to them in that language is oh-so-important.  Too bad that the number of engaging Telugu picture books for kids is so limited.  It seems that for every good Telugu book out there, there are 200 English ones ready to lure the kids away.

I really do lament the lack of resources.  Yes, there are some quality publishers out there, but not enough if you have voracious readers like I do.  So I do whatever bilingual parent eventually resorts to – reading English books in Telugu by substituting the words (although, as my son is now learning to read, I may have to start taping Telugu text over the English counterparts).  Not all English books are suitable for switching – especially those that rely on rhymes or have a decidedly Western theme and vocabulary (e.g. Halloween or Valentines books).

Here are 5 of my kids’ favourite books they love to hear in Telugu (and amenable to substitutions in other languages I’m sure):

1.  Listen, Listen!:  Simple nouns and verbs, mixed in with fun sounds.  A great vocabulary builder.

2.  The Little Engine That Could:  The repetition in the scenes makes for easy substitution – and the story line keeps the reading interesting.  Kids learn about feelings and emotions.

3.  God, Dog. Go!:  Perhaps our all-time favourite – terrific for learning opposites and colours.

4.  Clip-Clop:  A fun romp about a horse who gives rides to farm animals.  Good for learning about questions and commands.

5.  Harold and the Purple Crayon:  A creative masterpiece in any lanugage.


The Hindu, or Vedic, Time System is truly a gift to humanity.  Vedic astronomers divided time from the smallest of microseconds to epic yugas and kalpas.  Featured in our January Newsletter,here is a great way to introduce an element of the time system to kids:  starting with the 7 Days of the Week.

Astronomers in ancient India attributed each day of the week to be governed by a particular celestial body – the Sun (Surya or Ravi) and the Moon (Chandra or Soma) and 5 planets:  Mars (Mangal), Mercury (Budh), Jupiter (Brihaspati, the Guru of the Devas), Venus (Shukra) and Saturn (Shani).  Together with Rahu and Ketu, these celestial bodies are collectively named the navagrahas.

Kids will be interested to know that each planet is said to have it’s own personality and color – Mars (red) is a troublemaker, Jupiter (yellow) is wise and pious and Saturn (blue/black) is strict and stern.

Our flashcards cleverly depict these personalities – and the back of each gives a brief explanation – so print them out and go through them with your kids.  You can even “play-it-up” further by dressing in the day’s corresponding color – a fun way to get through a harsh winter week!

Available here! $5 and Free Shipping

P.S.:  You’ll be interested to know that the ancient Romans also had the idea of ruling planets – and named their days of the week accordingly.  Which system came first?  Well, that’s for the academic experts, but you can read more here.


If there is one movie you should see this month, I suggest Speaking In Tongues.

Winner of the San Francisco International Film Festival Audience Award, this film begs the question:  Is English enough? It documents 4 children who, starting from kindergarten, were immersed in 2 languages:  An African-American boy from public housing who learns to read, write, and speak Mandarin.  A Mexican-American boy (whose parents are not literate in any language) who develops professional-level Spanish while mastering English.  A Chinese-American girl who regains her grandparents’ mother tongue—a language her parents lost through assimilation.  A Caucasian teen who travels to Beijing to stay with a Mandarin speaking host family.

It’s a fascinating exploration into how kids adapt and respond to learning a second language – and about preparing our kids for a global future in which the U.S. won’t always be “right” and knowing only English just won’t be enough.

Yes, we can do better than monolingual education – it’s just that in the U.S. it’s up to parents and families to seek out how.