Will English become second language for children in Kurdistan Region?

22/6/2021 11:43:00
     Photo Credit: United Science Colleges' Facebook page

Although the Kurdish language is the mother language in the Kurdistan Region, nowadays we see more and more children speaking in English in playgrounds, schools, and parks.


Through the advancement of technology and the various social media platforms, which we can easily say kids can't live without, English has been spreading among Kurdish kids wider and wider. It is almost impossible to find a child without a mobile phone or other electronic devices watching Youtube videos which are mostly in English.


Perhaps the increase in the number of private schools, which mostly study in English, in the Kurdistan Region is also another reason behind the use of that language by Kurdish children.


In a statement to PUKmedia regarding the high rate of English speakers among children, Shene Tofiq, a Deputy Principal at the Sulaymaniyah Girls College which a part of the series of the United Science Colleges which study in English, said that the increase in the number of exemplary schools and the advancement of technology, especially educational videos on Youtube greatly contribute to the rise of English language in the Kurdistan Region.


"English has passed the Arabic language by far in the Kurdistan Region... It is even competing with the Kurdish to a worrying degree," she said.


"There are kids who don't know Kurdish... They don't even know the culture and history of their people and this is very worrying," she added.


The rise of English-speaking children prompts us to ask whether if English will become the second language in the Kurdistan Region or if the Kurdish which is the native language of Kurdish children is under threat because of this?


"This is a huge threat to the Kurdish language... These kids will grow up and get jobs and travel abroad without knowing much about their people's culture or history," Tofiq said.


"The Education Ministry must pay more attention to the Kurdish language in the school curriculum in a way that shows the importance of the mother language to the child and to encourage them to love their mother language," she added.


"The current curriculum is not enough for encouraging children to learn the importance of their mother language and grow love for it," she added.


English is often hailed by the community in a way that children find it more important to speak in English rather than their own native language.


"A child must be taught that knowing the mother language is as important as learning a foreign language and that is the responsibility of the Ministry of Education," Tofiq said. 


English is the largest language by the number of speakers, and the third most spoken native language in the world, after Standard Chinese and Spanish.


While the Kurdish language is one of the living languages of the world and it is ranked the 40th in the list of most used languages around the world, although Kurds have been divided into four countries as a nation and its dialects have been divided between geographical, dictionary and culture, but the Kurdish language has still survived.


kids during school activity 


How the Kurdish community feels about the rise of the English language


Although the language is widely spreading, most of the community don't seem to mind it, in fact, they are happy about it as they say their children will have better futures by knowing this global language, but others worry that it might lead to the end of Kurdish culture.


"The progress that is now being made in terms of learning English makes me very happy because English is a global language and now that Kurdistan and Iraq are open to the outside world, it is important to pay attention to learning other languages along with that progress," said Basoz Tofiq, a journalist and media figure.


"Locally, you will need in English in all aspects, but at all times the mother language, which is Kurdish, should not be forgotten," she added.



Writer Jawad Haydari


Talking to Jawad Haydari, a Kurdish writer and a father, he said: "I find it both good and bad... It is good because the current era is not just one language era rather it is multilingual, meaning that one must know more than one language." 


"But the danger is that if the English language becomes the first language then the mother language will be neglected which will cause mental and intellectual issues for the child in the future, as children can only express their dreams and desires in the mother language," he said.


"Some language experts believe that for learning other languages, one must know his/her mother language first, so for learning, mother language must be paid attention to before any other language," he added.






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