'I cringe’ — Somizi on parents not teaching their children their mother tongue

23 June 2021 - 07:00
Somizi Mhlongo says parents should consider teaching their children their home languages.
Somizi Mhlongo says parents should consider teaching their children their home languages.
Image: Instagram/Somizi

Media personality Somizi Mhlongo has weighed in on the debate around speaking one's mother tongue to one's child.

The star took to Instagram on Monday, appealing to parents to encourage their children to learn to speak their mother tongues so they are able to relate to their peers who are multilingual. 

“There is nothing wrong with your kids speaking English and going to English schools but I don't think parents realise the kind of damage or missed opportunity they are depriving their children [of], and the power and wealth in knowing your mother tongue.

The Idols SA judge recounted how he had spoken in vernac to some children, who were unable to respond because they did not understand the language fully.

He said it should be a child's decision not to speak in their mother tongue, and not their parents'.

“You speaking and making them know their mother tongue would not take anything away. But, you not speaking to them in their mother tongue will take something away from them. I cringe!” he said.

Somizi said parents should consider striking a balance between English and their home languages to enable their children to speak both.

“The thing is they are balanced because at school they speak English and play with other kids. Everything is in English. When they come home, what's wrong with having a balance? I know parents who create a balance at home and speak the mother language and make time for it — which is said that we have to make time for our mother tongues,” he said.

He said a child's success is not exclusively dependent on which schools they went to or the language they speak.

“In adulthood, we're on the same level. We're the same,” he said. 

Drawing from his life experience, Somizi said he never finished school but this did not deter him from becoming successful and making a name for himself