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Temitope Ogunniran: Nigerian Parents, Why Aren’t Your Children Speaking Their Native Languages?

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A couple of months ago, my younger sister (who at the time attended a very Nigerian populated county college) told me about a Yoruba boy in her circle of friends who was being teased in Yoruba, but couldn’t tell what was being said.

According to her, there was a certain individual making fun of him, and while everyone around laughed, he just sat there, unable to understand, let alone defend himself. She spoke about how sorry she felt for him; that while she at least understood and could to some degree speak our language, he neither spoke nor understood.  Now while I can’t sit here and tell you that I speak Yoruba with as much ease and fluency as I did when I lived in Ibadan, I can tell you that I very well understand my mother’s threats when Oyinbo people are around. Or when I visit Ibadan and the ladies at the hair shop are plotting ways to overcharge the Yankee babe because they assume I can’t speak Yoruba. (God is watching all of you).
What I’m more interested in telling you however, is that I take pride in it- in the fact that I can check ‘bilingual’ while filling out job applications, because as opposed to what some misguided Nigerian parents believe, it actually gives me an advantage.

Now, I want to make it clear that I understand circumstances where it just happens that children are unable to pick up their native languages. I can tell you from experience that a lot of times, especially when you’re in a foreign country, it’s much faster/easier to speak in English. While my parents speak both Yoruba and English to us, (with us responding mostly in English) other parents might have a harder time doing so.

In fact, some parents (especially those living in ‘the abroad’) might find it easier to just speak English to their children, while their children will of course find it easier to do as well. There are also situations where both parents speak different languages, and the only common language between them is English; thus, the children will grow up learning to speak only English. I’m sure that there are many other situations and reasons as to why certain Nigerian children aren’t bilingual, but what I’m really addressing in this piece are parents that intentionally prohibit their children from being so. I’m referring to parents who believe their native language to be a disadvantage, and for that reason force their children to speak only English. Or more troubling, parents who forbid their children from doing so because they want to uphold an erroneous and superficial sense of superiority over those that can speak their native language; because they value English/the ability to sound “foreign” more than they do their native language.

So, Dear Nigerian parent *insert Ma/Sir*,

Since I’m in such a telling mood, let me first begin by respectfully telling you that there’s nothing cute about your child living in Nigeria, yet not being able to speak your native language.

I can also tell you that sounding “American” and/or the most fluent English won’t protect them from feeling stupid when their friends make fun of them in their language. And if that didn’t address your reason, I’ll take it one step further by telling you that children can learn to be bilingual, and that it is actually easier for a child to learn two languages at once than it is for most adults to pick up a second one.

Rest assured, their learning Yoruba/Igbo/Hausa (or any other beautiful Nigerian language) won’t interfere with their ability to also learn good English. The truth is, Ma/Sir, we are in a global economy. Companies are expanding not just locally, but internationally.

So your child, who knows how to speak both English and Igbo has an advantage over Ogechi, who possesses the same qualifications but can’t. Finally, I can tell you that (as is the case with a lot of my friend’s parents who once held the same position as you), you’ll be glad when in adult hood, your child can communicate with you both in English and your native language. In fact, you also will take pride in it. Besides, is the ability to put the fear of God in your child, using your native language something you really want to pass up? I urge you to reconsider your reasons for not wanting your children to understand your language.

Yours Truly,

Temi Niran

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Hongqi Zhang (aka Michael Zhang)

Temi Niran is a content developer, food lover, and Television Connoisseur. She also just stole this description from her Twitter bio. When she isn't reading articles/novels, she's on her social Blog NIRAN (temitopeog.wordpress.com) giving unsolicited advice and discussing social issues in ways she believes to be humorous. Her passion is content and she hopes through her career, to continue shaping the world of Marketing through content development.

80 Comments

  1. 'Deola

    October 30, 2015 at 8:27 am

    Benefits of Being Bilingual
    Learning a second language at an early age

    Has a positive effect on intellectual growth and enriches and enhances a child’s mental development
    Leaves students with more flexibility in thinking, greater sensitivity to language, and a better ear for listening
    Improves a child’s understanding of his/her native language
    Gives a child the ability to communicate with people s/he would otherwise not have the chance to know
    Opens the door to other cultures and helps a child understand and appreciate people from other countries
    Gives a student a head start in language requirements for college
    Increases job opportunities in many careers where knowing another language is a real asset.
    (Center for Applied Linguistics)

    cal.org/earlylang/benefits/benefits_of_being_bilingual.html

    Above says it all, It is good to be bilingual I hope parents would encourage their kids to speak their language and other languages besides English. I heard the other benefit is it slows dementia in old age. How true that is I am sure. .

    • Chinyere Nwa Igbo

      October 30, 2015 at 1:37 pm

      I pity parents who speak just English to their kids. For Gods sake you don’t know what that child is destined to be. What if your son was to be the Governor of Anambra state for example, and he can’t speak igbo, how will he address the people during campaign? How can he be a governor when he can’t speak his native tongue. How do u think that child will ever be happy with his parents for not teaching him his native language. So parents keep fooling yourselves and keep copying the oyibos. A word is enough for the wise.

    • damseldam1

      October 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm

      i wish y parent were reading this article as it applies to them. me and my siblings cannot even speak Yoruba well at least thank God that i understand but i cannot speak for the last two siblings. am 28 with two lovely toddlers. it is a shame to say that i cannot even pronounce my full name properly. the Yoruba that my parent were suppose to teach us when we were young is what my mum is expecting me to speak now when am old when she speak Yoruba now she will be like reply me back in Yoruba likewise i cannot i just be struggling and i said to her that its all her fault. luckily for me i helped myself in learning by watching Yoruba movies when i was young (thank God for subtitles) and also the wisdom of God that emi le ko ede yoruba dada (i can write in Yoruba very well) don’t ask me how o it still a mystery to me sha lol but now i facing the dilemma of teaching my babies Yoruba and i would love to.. it is well sha. as for the English names i see nothing wrong with it. as it has nothing to do with speaking the language, my children has biblical English names as their first and Yoruba names as their second.

    • zzzz

      October 30, 2015 at 6:18 pm

      by definition being destined to be something means that every step that leads to that destiny has been predestined so no matter what happens the destiny will be achieved regardless. no one is predestined to be anything, People form their own destinies with their own hands and actions.

    • Hian

      October 31, 2015 at 10:21 am

      I don’t understand? So which language can you speak because it obviously isn’t English

  2. mia

    October 30, 2015 at 8:49 am

    I tell parents who do this that it’s a colonial mentality and it reeks of inferiority. We are not any less than the white man For crying out loud, some Americans even came to the University of Ibadan to learn Yoruba, the videos are everywhere, so why wont you?

    This also goes for those who will rather give their children English names when you can coin names whichever way you like it in your local language? I called one of my friends out on this and he said he gave his daughter an English name because when he was in the UK, Oyinbos were finding it hard to pronounce his Yoruba name. I told him it’s because they didn’t find you important. it’s more difficult to pronounce CHIMAMANDA than it is to pronounce his name, yet the oyinbo people pronounce it well, they even attempt to pronounce it with Igbo accent.

    We need to get out of this neo-colonialism mentality, your child’s ability to speak other languages is an added advantage, and it has nothing to do with sounding foreign. I think Adunni Ade’s video proved that. Stop depriving them of the opportunity to code-switch. Imagine being on a bus in yankee and you want to scold your child or gossip and you do it in Hausa or Igbo? Priceless, i would say.

    • Omooluabi

      October 30, 2015 at 9:05 am

      @ Mia, The English name one, I cannot stand especially for folks who in Nigeria. With all the beauty of our new languages, you will go and give your child a name from another country? And what is appalling is that a good number of people that do this do.so because they think foreign names are better. I know someone who has not stepped out of Naija, and her child’s name is Giovanni. I laugh in Italian!

    • Whatsinaname

      October 30, 2015 at 3:15 pm

      Your so right. It is very annoying seeing Nigerians with English names especially those born and raised in nigeria. What is wrong with our beautiful names? I was born and raised in the UK and still live here and have said to my future husband that all our children must bear Nigerian names. Unfortunately, I was not given one by my parents but have adopted my own one. All my Indian and Chinese friends do not bear English names and speak their native languages and they are all well respected even more than us Africans. And trust me the white people say their names. If they cannot pronounce it you tell them how to. There are many English names which are equally difficult to pronounce. Let us be proud of who we are. We are beautiful people with an equally beautiful culture. Back to the article…please parents teach your children their language.

    • Ebitani

      October 31, 2015 at 2:19 am

      The reason why I love Indians people. They speak their native language to their kids, regardless of their education background. Naija people I hail thee. Over sabi they worry us gan ni

    • Nwakaeku

      October 31, 2015 at 5:59 am

      Not only Indians ooo. All Asians, Arabs, even Europeans speak their respective native languages well well to their kids.

  3. elle

    October 30, 2015 at 9:07 am

    I agree wholeheartedly with the author. However, the people who make fun of those who can’t speak their native language need to stop. It doesn’t make anyone a lesser human being or Nigerian if they can’t speak their local language.

    That is not to say it should not be encouraged. At all!

  4. Chi!

    October 30, 2015 at 9:10 am

    Pls help me ask dem cos I tire for Nigerian Parents. Parents over to u?

  5. Ada

    October 30, 2015 at 9:16 am

    Tell them well o! I don’t think it even required effort on our part to understand Igbo and English while growing up. We just knew both and spoke either of them in any company that demanded it. My cousins spoke purely English at home so when they visited, we spoke English to them o but when they were gone, we spoke our Igbo! My parents are Igbo to the bone. Father didn’t give anyone of us oyibo names. Both first and second names for me and all my siblings are Igbo. I don’t get why people suddenly think its cool not to have a local identity!

  6. jasmine

    October 30, 2015 at 9:17 am

    I remember when I was little and my dad’s white friends will come around. When they ask me, wat’s ur name? I say ‘Chi….’. They say no. English name and popsy will say no. Call her by her native name coz she doesn’t av an english name. Lol. All my certificates bear just two names. My name which is native and my surname which is native too. I remember telling my dad to let us bear his english name as our surname, the slap I received that day!!! Kai. Proud of my native name jare. And proud of my tribe.

    • jaybird

      October 30, 2015 at 9:45 am

      When did u decide to give yourself Jasmine? 🙂

    • Misslolly

      October 30, 2015 at 11:48 am

      Is your own name jaybird?

    • Mimi

      October 30, 2015 at 9:47 am

      so who is jasmine?

    • Let's be real

      October 30, 2015 at 10:10 am

      Yet you call yourself jasmine…..

    • Anon.

      October 30, 2015 at 11:15 am

      It’s an online forum, why would you want her to use her real name?

    • anonymous

      October 30, 2015 at 10:21 am

      why are you not proud of your native name? you are still using English name, am lost.

    • lola

      October 30, 2015 at 11:59 am

      Why did u give yourself Jasmine if u are really proud of your native name?

  7. JADE

    October 30, 2015 at 9:42 am

    Though I have two english names due to catholic baptism and confirmation, i also have two igbo names. we learnt igbo, english and pidgin effortlessly. When in school i spoke english, at home i spoke igbo and in the playground i spoke pidgin with the rest. A child can learn as much as five languages at once so i don’t understand this concept of not speaking your native language o, my sisters have lived in Jand for years and their children bear igbo names dubem Ada kene Fechukwu, if you like pronounce it well if you like dont!

    • Nne

      October 30, 2015 at 11:45 am

      Lol… True. I’m Catholic and pops gave us igbo names for baptism… The man doesn’t joke. I don’t get when parents decide their native language is too archaic ti teach their kids..

  8. i no send

    October 30, 2015 at 9:47 am

    what about a cue where even the parents can’t speak the language who then teaches their kids ?

    • Maguim

      October 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      Maybe grand parents….. I am always reminding momsy that when the time comes she is not allowed to speak french (since we are francophone) to her grand children….only native ooo…..

  9. Paul Babalola

    October 30, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Great write up, not the usual boyfriend/girlfriend stale article. Parents should imbibed that attitude of teaching their children their native language. The most worrisome category are the group of parents based in Nigeria whose children can only speak English. I have seen such families and I tend to shiver with anger. On the use of indigenous names, we may not be too hard on parents over that, parents can decide to give their children any name so far it does not connote evil. People shouldn’t mix English names with Biblical names, my daughters name is Ruth, that is not an English name, it is a Hebrew name considering my own core Christian principle. I love names in the Bible, unfortunately, the English out of ignorance believe those names originated from Britain.

  10. Aku

    October 30, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Hmmmm… growing up I only had my First name & Last name which are both native names. A time came when there was a need to have a middle name for differentiation with namesakes, I was in the boarding house with no phones. I didn’t have any middle name so i chose an English name and gave my teachers for the registration of my exams. My dear people, my father tore my results bcos of the English name. He was that strict! I never used any of those results. I had to repeat the exams & he registered me with a native middle name which I carry till date. So my three names are native.. lol. And my two names are strong names to pronounce so i just shorten it. the struggle wasn’t easy growing up with the names. But my father would always say that he has never seen a white man bearing our Nigerian names so why adopt theirs? He said there are different inspirations behind our names & so we shouldn’t think of throwing it away too fast. In my house, we communicate in our language before English & any other language.

  11. Isaid!!

    October 30, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Well said!! Everyone who has commented so far, i was guilty of this but have amended my ways. Now i only speak my native language to my children. I actually appreciated this a lot when i traveled out and my daughter and i will be yarning to the dozens in the bus infuriating the whites who couldn’t understand a thing. please lets go back to who we really are ,language and all!! All this colonial mentality has got to stop.

  12. Queen of Everything

    October 30, 2015 at 10:28 am

    While I agree with the post and most of the comments I have a question…
    In this day and age of intertribal and intercultural marriages what then happens when it comes to teaching the children of said marriage a native tongue. for instance, a lady is Yoruba and her Husband is Igbo which native language would they teach the child if neither of them speak the other’s language and converse completely in English (and they don’t live in Nigeria)?
    This is a genuine question.

    • shame

      October 30, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      It’s called making an effort. I hear what you’re saying but, if you cant speak find someone who can to teach them, make sure their in contact with relatives who can and encourage the relatives to do so. It will be harder of course but nothing is impossible. Trust me your kids will thank you for it when they are older. The earlier is better. I don’t speak my language well at all and my partner is European but knowing what I know now I will make sure they can learn as soon as possible.

    • kike

      October 30, 2015 at 12:02 pm

      Hehhehee, I am in that situation but I and my hubby have decided our daughter would learn yoruba since my ibo husband speaks yoruba fluently. For us we just want the kids to speak at least one nigerian language. Basically among intertribal marriage understanding lo matter.

    • Maguim

      October 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      Ahhhh…it’s easy na…… Daddy will teach his own and same to mummy…. the children will feel at ease when visiting either momsy or daddy side of the family….. So if someone want to gossip about daddy or mummy ahhhhh junior will easily translate it….lol

    • Blessedheart

      October 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm

      That’s exactly my situation. Growing up with inter-tribal parents, we spoke English at home. I was able to learn my dad’s language only because of where I grew up. Till date, I feel more comfortable with English though I speak, read and write my native language very well. I think, pray, etc in English. I see English as my mother tongue because that was the first language I learnt, the language my mother spoke to me. Interestingly, my marriage is also an inter-tribal one. I had been saying I’d teach my children my language and leave it to my husband or his family members to teach them his. I have been thinking about it recently however, and I have to admit that it may be difficult since neither of us communicate in our languages. I could go days without speaking my language thus I doubt it would come naturally to me to speak that language to my children. I can only hope to try my best because I’d really want them to be able to speak and understand the two languages plus English.

    • Kemmi

      October 30, 2015 at 5:16 pm

      Perfect opportunity for the children to be polyglot. i speak yoruba better than my yoruba friends but i had to make conscious effort to learn Igbo. Although my dad is Igbo and mum is yoruba. I am proudly Ijebuyorubaspeakingmbaisegirl…..

    • Ibimina

      October 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      My family is one of such families,isotope father I jaw mother,well English is the common language at home,my parents can’t even understand each other so we speak a smattering of my dad’s language but a lot of Yoruba having been born and bred in Lagos. It’s not the biggest travesty in the world that we don’t speak either. Sure it’d be cool if we could but we can’t and life goes on

    • Ibimina

      October 30, 2015 at 10:18 pm

      *isoko and ijaw

    • Bobonkiti

      October 31, 2015 at 8:22 am

      Expose them early to the Yoruba, Igbo, English and if you like add Hausa. By the time they are six years old you wii be surprised at the positive result. Try it it has worked. and will still work, not an exaggeration.

  13. Roxy

    October 30, 2015 at 10:38 am

    Before i got married and started having children, i told myself that my children must be able to speak at least 1 Nigerian language because i speak 4 Nigerian languages. Now my daughter is almost 2 and she speaks and understands 2 Nigerian languages, Yoruba and Ika. I’m so proud of her and of course really happy. Nigerian parents need to start teaching their kids their languages before it goes into extinction. Lol!

    • Happyhilly

      October 30, 2015 at 12:10 pm

      How were you able to do that? I mean, for your 2 year old.

    • Roxy

      October 30, 2015 at 3:34 pm

      From the day she was born, i started speaking my dialect (Ika) to her and my maid is yoruba. i told my maid never to speak English to her that when she gets to school she would learn English. Today, she greets in Yoruba and my Ika and also understands everything in both languages. Even my parents are amazed.

    • damseldam1

      October 30, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      please o how are u able to do that cos my daughter is almost 3 shes not even fluent in speaking well in even in English!

    • ATL's finesg

      November 1, 2015 at 2:25 am

      @Roxy Agbor woman I hail thee:) ndaoo!

    • ATL's finest

      November 1, 2015 at 2:34 am

      @ Roxy great job!!! Ur daughter reminds me of me when I was Lil’. At d age of 2, I was already very fluent in my language & English. I started school 1yr & 6months in KG 1. I traveled to d village & came back a pro lol.. Now I’m proud to say I speak 5 languages in Nigeria including mine & when I traveled out of Nigeria, I picked up a second language “Hello German” & by the time I arrived in ATL, I already spoke 4 foreign languages.. I’m so desperate to learn Yoruba, Spanish & Swahili very well.

  14. Niyoola

    October 30, 2015 at 10:41 am

    I hope my children are fluent in 3 languages: English, Yoruba and French. I’ve ordered a Little Pims French set. Nigeria is bordered by Fracophone countries, yet most of us can’t string a sentence in French.

    Parents think native languages are razz! Some don’t like the normaal Naija Accent, so they take their kids to schools where they are taught to speak spreee spreee (I kid you not)

  15. DD

    October 30, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Totally agree with this piece!! Let’s teach our children to be proud of their Nigerian heritage and languages. Nice one.

  16. shame

    October 30, 2015 at 11:11 am

    It is a shame that people might reason like that and believe only speaking English is an advantage. Parents please encourage your kids 100% to speak their native tongue, English and another language as early as possible, my partner is European and retaining his language as an adult is hard work for me,. Thank goodness I at least understand my mother tongue which I always felt embarrassed that I couldn’t speak it with fluency, even now.

    When I came back to Nigeria for a while I was shocked that so many people couldn’t speak their language let alone visit their village, It made me feel a little better about myself but I was surprised and slightly saddend. With hindsight my dad said he always wished he insisted we reply to him in our language, but as we were new to the UK as 2 and 4 year olds he wanted to make sure we can fit in as quickly as possible. I was fluent in English in like a month but wasn’t encouraged to speak my mother tongue although I heard parents speaking it and that’s why I can hear but not speak. So parents trust that your kids can pick up as much as you throw at them because in adult hood not everyone will get it. Lets save our languages, especially the ones from the smaller tribes.

  17. mrs chidukane

    October 30, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I see nothing wrong with English names. I don’t have any but my children will have them. That said, you will hardly find anyone from my place who doesn’t speak our local dialect and I love it. It’s a taboo that your child doesn’t speak no matter where you live in the world. Our local association in some foreign countries organize summer classes so young ones can learn. I speak my dialect and central Ibo very well and English very fluently.

    • Blessedheart

      October 30, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      I don’t see anything wrong with English names either. My siblings and I all have English names as well as two other names from both tribes. I want the same for my children too.

  18. Miss CaramelD

    October 30, 2015 at 11:41 am

    What breaks my heart is people who swap their surnames for English names. Why? Why would you do that?!! My family thinking was, I will hear English at school, on the TV and radio so once I crossed into the front door it was nothing but Igbo. Dad fought tooth and nail to make sure I spoke Igbo. The fight was real but now I’m grateful. All I see are nothing but benefits and I’ll make sure I do the same for my kids.

    PS For all the Christians, you can get baptised with your native name. I have no English names, Dad wasn’t having any of it!

    • molarah

      October 30, 2015 at 1:08 pm

      Yea abi @ the Christian name matter. And English names are not even necessarily Christian names. An Oluwaseun or Jesutofunmi is just as Christian, probably even more, than a Ruth or Elizabeth.

      By the way I could have sworn that I responded to a tweet with a name similar to yours yesterday on twitter. Are we stalking each other? Lol.

  19. Tosynne

    October 30, 2015 at 11:56 am

    This is most especially common among my Yoruba folks. The irony is that here in the UK, I know kids that speak Yoruba fluently and then some kids that haven’t crossed the border to Cotonou do not understand Yoruba. It is even more surprisingly common among the Yoruba illiterates and semi-illiterates. What a backward way of thinking.. If the famed English Literature Nobel Laurette Wole Soyinka can speak Yoruba with utmost fluency, I wonder what the excuse of these peeps are… Annoying to say the least.

  20. natty

    October 30, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I swear I was about sending an article to BN on this ! we should be proud of our languages and culture

  21. Made

    October 30, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    The day you see an Indian mother speak English to her child in the UK or anywhere for that matter, please lemme know. mean-a-while, my 12 year old cousin told her folks not to speak yoruba to her in PUBLIC again in the same uk. #GreatMistake. she never said it again after then when her parents decided to go the ibile (tradition) route since her childish utterances.. i won’t lie sha, i thought that the combination of a “normal-sounding” enlish name and a native last name sounded good, at least to me as long as its not Shanequeia or something like that::…i just night have to look for tush-sounding, God-Praising, well-meaning, non-Ridiculous and meaningful native name for my bambino..something like “Karamotulahi” – Kara for short..lol..just kidding.

  22. chu

    October 30, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    I can not speak my native tongue. *closes eyes*, I was not taught as a child but seriously I just do not have an ear for language, it just seems to flow through me. I am Delta, can;t speak that, grew up in Lagos(though it was a government area and so English was the spoken word, can’t speak Yoruba, did Secondary school in the East, can’t speak Igbo. My case is just pathetic. Now I am married to a Yoruba man. He jokes that he will buy slate to teach our baby and i. But I learnt by example that you don’t learn a language with chalk but by constant speaking. Now I make more effort to learn Yoruba cos of my future kids but tis not easy, its just all sounds like Greek. Maybe I’m linguaphobic,lol.

    For names, I have a native name and an old English name which I never give anyone, you must learn to pronounce my name or call it as you like I don’t mind, my name has been murdered severally so its not new to me again. I did however give my daughter a non native name cos I loved the meaning and the name is symbolic to me.

  23. Tosin

    October 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    no knowledge is lost o

  24. Omowumi

    October 30, 2015 at 1:09 pm

    Valid point made by the author and most of the commentators. Noticed (expectedly) that almost no one is guilty of this crime, except the ones in inter tribal marriage. So where are all these non native speaking children from?
    I happen to be one of such parents, hubby and i are Yoruba, though we had cause to be abroad at some point. I won’t entirely blame it on that. I do not feel in any way inferior about my tribe or language. I have always felt our official language should come first, living in Nigeria or abroad. So that at the barest minimum, the child can communicate with majority in any situation. Once the foundation is laid, then i try to get them to speak and learn Yoruba. I remember my toddler would say “Poopoo-Yagbe” thats because he understood the word to mean same. Anyways, its been years and i’d have to admit my kids speak and understand English more than they do Yoruba. they do have an idea of what its been said but cant speak so well and really English has just become convenient for us. It’s good to encourage our children to understand the language and all that. But some of us need to take a chill pill and stop judging. My children understands, and appreciate more about their heritage than most that speak Yoruba fluently. At the end of the day, its the values we teach them thats’ important.

  25. observer

    October 30, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for this great article. I reside in England and have friends who live in Nigeria whose children don’t speak / understand Yoruba. To me, its a sign of inferiority complex and backwardness. We argue over it. The people who live here speak their native language to their children. They encourage it in my daughter’s nursery and she is only 2. I speak YORUBA to her and she understands. Please parents, let us make use of the capacity they have. Apparently, they can learn up to 5 languages till they are 7. It opens doors of opportunities for them in the future. My daughter will start spanish classes by age 3. For now, she can understand and speak a bit of English and Yoruba. I have a friend from Congo who teaches her daughter french and has asked me to bring mine for some lessons too. The ones that live in Nigeria should be there and be doing ‘my child can’t speak my native language, he/she only speaks and understands English’ it isn’t cute like the write said! It really annoys me abeg! Some will be showing off about the number of home works their kids are being given etc. please make use of the capacity of their growing brains and set them up for a fantastic future outside of ‘books, English speaking’ these days, you need beyond that to excel. Imagine what it would be like in their future. Nigeria should arise!

  26. Bukola

    October 30, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    No be only Giovanni, nah Moschino?

    • ATL's finesg

      November 1, 2015 at 2:26 am

      @ Bukola lmao they don’t speak Italian but they speak Giovanni lol

  27. cherry

    October 30, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Lovely article, I take pride in kids speaking their native language ,i av lots of Indian folks around me and I av never seen dem speak English to their children and these children speak their language perfectly n dey av never left d shores of uk before, I wonder how dey do It, Buh most Nigerians will rather communicate in English than our native language, thanks to this article, I am much more enlightened, all my children Must speak yoruba …..it’s a must

  28. Dolapo

    October 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    the fact that i can gossip with my child or pass a message while in d midst of the “oyinbo” is an ultimate reason. and having a friend that can relate too. ahh… i totally agree with the post. proud of you girl

  29. Niola

    October 30, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    I am not sure how i eventually learnt yoruba and perfectly understand Ijebu sef………….Growing up in the early 80’s my parents always spoke English to us and of course we communicated back in English, but because they spoke Yoruba to each other, we just understood somehow sha.. Of course in secondary school it was compulsory to learn a Nigerian language so I chose Hausa because I knew Yoruba was going no where, well I didn’t go past zo ka chi abinchin. ina so naayi suya..hehe hehe When I moved away from Nigeria in my teen years, my Yoruba became so fluent because I always wanted to gossip about oyinbo with my other Nigerian friends and now in my mid-thirties and back in naija mo tie le powe ni Yoruba. I have one rule though, I will never speak Yoruba in the office, for me it shuts the door on professionalism and people use it to enforce commonality, camaraderie.,the ‘we are one ‘thing..naaa I don’t want, mi o fe.. My common language now is’ Christ language’

  30. c_ogochukwu

    October 30, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    u know what is fun is that all these naija parents that teach their kids only English in naija don’t even teach them the right English is usually the naija English that always end with nko and oooo lol u might as well just teach them our language and let the school teach them English that way u will know if the school fees u paying is worth it lol

  31. Anony

    October 30, 2015 at 3:32 pm

    Let’s discuss about adults, that are too ashamed, to speak their own dialect. Especially those in diaspora….
    I can recall one certain incidence,that occurred whilst still, in an international college in the uk. I was speaking Igbo with one Igbo boy….he even have Igbo name and surname, gist was flowing hmmm.
    once he saw his other friends, he sharply sharply ignored me, pretended he does not know what I was saying, the shock and disappointment I felt…ehhhhh(Chineke ma)….I shook my head and left.
    Some Nigerians are too ashame of speaking their dialect, not to talk of teaching their kids.

  32. Deji

    October 30, 2015 at 7:38 pm

    It was most def about time someone wrote an article about this! I don’t have kids yet but when I do, even if I live in Buckingham palace they “musted” to spoked Yoruba ooooo!!! I remember a few friends in secondary school who were not permitted to speak Yoruba at home. Their English was not better than mine. So what was the purpose? I just cannot get it People teach your kids your native language! You can never tell when it will come handy

  33. memebaby

    October 30, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    my folks never spoke their language. heck, idk if they know how to.. il have to ask smh.. growing up, i thought it was “bush”… I mean why would a butty like my self speak my language ?.. Now at 24, I wish I knew how to speak bini abi esan.. I hear my friends speak and I love listening. I hope my husband would know how to speak his language and pass it down to the kids because all I have is pidgin (which isn’t the best), our dishes, clothes and naija movies lol 🙁

    • Damseldam1

      October 30, 2015 at 8:57 pm

      Pls define ‘omo butty’ for me pls!?

  34. Blunt

    October 30, 2015 at 8:07 pm

    You sound so irritating….

  35. Sherlie Holmes

    October 30, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    I was born and raised in the US and my mom made sure she always spoke to me in Yoruba and English, she wanted me to understand Yoruba very well. She even taught me how to read and write in Yoruba. As an Adult, it is one of the best gifts my mom could have given me – the opportunity to be bilingual. Teach your kids your language, they’ll be grateful!

  36. Koffie

    October 30, 2015 at 10:53 pm

    Growing up, my mum would reprimand me to “Da pada” anytime I replied her in English. She said she was paying my school enough for them to teach me English and if I was at home, it was just Yoruba. My mum still finds it weird that some of my relatives feel Yoruba language is razz and so speak ‘Yoruba English’ to their kids. When she analysed it, I agreed with her cos even the English, the kids no sabi am. You hear them say “I’m coming” when they’re actually going, isn’t that from Yoruba (Mo n bo). I love my language so much and hate the fact that I can’t use ami ohun sef though I can still read written Yoruba.
    I’ll speak Yoruba to my kids and if my husband is non-Yoruba, he’ll speak his to them as well (I hope). They can learn English and French at school and with special language centres. I see it as pushing them intellectually as much as you can. They have the capability so you shouldn’t underutilize their intellect.

  37. Mogbadun eyi(TrueTalk)

    October 31, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Temitope, thanks so so much for this article. I know a man who speaks his dialect very well, his wife speaks another, her own dialect very well too, when kids started coming the woman begged the man to speak his dialect so that she and the kids will understand but he said he was not mad to be speaking dialect alone so he refused. More children came, story still same, school time came teachers were mocking them in school they will come cry to their dad. It was mild in primary school, in secondary school some teachers(belonging to the same tribe) will punish them(jlight punishment-raise up your hands, or knee down) they will come home begging dad to teach them their dialect, he wasn’t moved. At this point their mother who has been giving her husband a chance to teach them his dialect now said enough is enough and introduced her own dialect to the children. Happily today the children speaks their mothes dialect and they are happy about it. Just before I forget they all have natiive names as 1st and 2nd. Talking about Nigerian names let me say African names oh! I love them, beautiful and meaningful. you can just coin a name to match an event imagine God has added another blessing to you and you name your child Olamilekan(my blessing has increaed)or God just answered a particular prayer you are Igbo then you name your girl Chiamaka(God is good),, you are Taroh you have 3 boys and desperately want a girl you realise is not in your power to determine the sex, the 4th child arrives and behold is a girl then you name her Nanre(God allows or God send).is there a way one can put tese names in English and get the meaning you want. Giovani, shelly etc. Welldone Roxy for your effort. I almost forgot to say so,

  38. Mogbadun eyi(TrueTalk)

    October 31, 2015 at 11:12 am

    Corrections (1) God has increased (2)these names..pls overlook any other one.

  39. Bobonkiti

    October 31, 2015 at 11:35 am

    Regarding the issue of names some Churches are not helping matters. Early this year a 59 year old woman was to be baptised in her new church she was asked to pick a Bible name, she bluntly refused. Her nwme means peace in her dialect she said the father has repeatedly told her why she was given that name. She was born at a time when two neighbouring villages decided to put an end to their old conflict and embrace peace. Is there something wrong with her name? Bible names are someones language THE HEBREW language..They have their meanings too, and some really have lovely meaning, you can find out, so im not saying is wrong to have Bible names but why change from Itoro to Esther before getting baptised.

  40. jum

    October 31, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    Luckily i found out about an app which can help young children understand local dialects better and faster. The app was made by Adebayo Adegbembo the app from the little adverts i saw is quite good for children but am not sure if it has been launched for the markets

    • Adebayo

      January 5, 2016 at 3:34 am

      Hi Jum. The apps are available publicly on Google Play and the Apple Store. Or you could get them on the Genii Games Limited website (geniigames.com). Thanks

  41. nunulicious

    November 1, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    aside from cultural pride and heritage, there is also the thinking process associated with speaking one’s native tongue. This is particularly true if we know our proverbs and idioms not just speaking it. Believe you me, the street sense that is associated with speaking and thinking in one’s native tongue gives one an advantage in terms of social skills, business interactions, self-esteem and self-awareness.
    God bless Nigeria.

  42. Jessica

    November 14, 2015 at 2:14 am

    You can learn language with native speakers at preply.com/en/skype/english-native-speakers

  43. Adebayo

    January 5, 2016 at 3:44 am

    Well said Temi. The subject is one that we must continue to emphasize given the negative stereotypes that have become associated with our indigenous languages. As some of us know, there’s a deep sense of a pride and confidence that comes with a good understanding of one’s language. Often times, we hear complaints from adults ruing their inability to speak or understand their native language. Ironically, some parents who today frown at our native languages were themselves raised with a good understanding of it. The best way to counter these negative stereotypes is to emphasize the gains as best we as we can.

  44. Aaron

    March 3, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    we Nigerian think that speaking of only English to our children is the best way to help them before starting school yes is right but that is the teacher’s job not you…. A teacher can not teach your child language you are responsible for that how will you fill when your father one to speak language to his grand kids and found out they I cannot say a word in there language…………….

  45. CultureTree

    April 2, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Thank you for this write-up. I am a mother of 2 based in the UK and my husband & I are passionate about teaching our children our language Yoruba. We have recently launched a Youtube channel which aims to teach children Yoruba using nursery rhymes, stories, lullabies and other educational materials.

    You can check it out at: youtube.com/channel/UCjjzx5WteiyGu6_t3S09jHA

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