Sunday, 26 April 2015

Goan Teenagers and the English Language

-Brian Mendonça

 ‘Religion: In India there are many religion and the three which I know brifley are Catholic, hindus and Muslim. People say that there are different gods but I believe that there is only one and just one god.
Politics: Earlier politics and today’s politics there has been a lot of change. Earlier politics was clean, smooth and fare all were treated equally whatever goods were there were distributed equally and everyone was loved equally but today if we go to be our politican and politics it has been rough and dirty politican only feel their pockets they don’t give a sheet to see the people, their needs only think of their self and their family. Even if others people die they don’t care. It’s full of corruption. The roads today are full of ‘holes’ but the poiticans don’t repair them because of them today many young youth have died. Other main thing and that is politicans have entered our religion . . . They made the Catholic people suffer a lot our nouns what harm they made why they are suffered a lot?? They made our Catholic hope less but as I have seen through this our Catholic faith has been increasing day by day there have a rally which was recently done by our Catholic brothers and sisters and in which many people took part lot number of priests and nouns were also there . . . Its important and one must not get politics into religion. Religion is separate and politics.’

Commentary: The above is an excerpt from an English essay by a teenager in Goa.

While it is plain to see that the student has ideas, command over the English language to provide a vehicle for these ideas is sorely lacking. Is the teacher going to go back to the drawing board and begin to teach spellings, homonyms, punctuation and palindromes?

Is the world view of the Goan teenager inscribed only by three religions? This is a pathetic perception of India. Still, festivals like Navroz – the Parsi New year is scarcely commemorated in school. Why is there such a disjunct between theory and practice?

In another question on diary entries for a festival of India spread over 4 days, most students gushed over generalities like ‘many cultural performances,’ ‘great music,’ ‘lovely dances,’ and ‘boring’ poetry readings. What was absent was any confidence to name any thing unique to a particular state, viz. Bihu from Assam; Khakra from Gujarat, Bhangra from Punjab or Kamala Das from Kerala. Students seem to shy away from this cultural immersion.

The problem is systemic. Teenagers hardly read the papers. IT and smart phones have given most of them a false sense of eloquence. Take-home assignments are ridden with material copied from the internet, and passed off shamelessly as one’s own.

With few exceptions, when it comes to Goan teens, there seems to be a general apathy towards India, academics and English language skills – a crucial matrix --with scant hope in sight.
Published in Gomantak Times Weekender, St. Inez, Goa on Sunday, 26 April 2015; pix courtesy

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