How Mother Tongue Influence Makes English Speaking Difficult

Image result for unconfidentHey there learners!

I have a really interesting and relatable topic today: How Mother Tongue Influence Makes English Speaking difficult . It is interesting because most of us are unaware of that fact that we suffer from Mother Tongue Influence or MTI as it is popularly called and relatable because the moment you understand what it is, you will realise how common it is.

Before you assume it is a disease and go on to Google how dangerous it is, I would like to tell you it is not a disease, and can be easily dealt with.

So, without further ado, let see what MTI really is and how it makes speaking English difficult for us.

What is Mother Tongue Influence?

Our mother tongue is the language we grew up speaking. Literally speaking, it means the language our mother taught us: the language we speak since childhood. It is a popular saying that in India, language changes at every ten miles. This makes it difficult for us to speak in a standard accent as all of us have our own way of speaking English. This is what is called Mother Tongue Influence- when the effect of mother tongue on English becomes evident.

Some examples are: ‘iskool’, ‘istudent’,  ‘plezar’, ‘requesht’ and other such words. In fact, I got the idea to write on this topic only after a student told us that he wanted to speak ‘bhery phluent Englis’.

How does it develop?

This problem arises because of vernacular medium schools, which are large in number in India. Hence, majority of Indians suffer from MTI. Another reason could be that children are introduced to English at a later stage in childhood. Studies show that those children who begin to learn a second language in their childhood, learn it faster. Learning at a later stage makes it difficult because by then child has already internalised the sounds of his/her mother tongue and applies the same to English, this is where the problem starts. Lastly, it could also be because of lack of exposure to English.

Effects of Mother Tongue Influence

People have a good laugh at the expense of those who speak with strong MTI. It is not right to do so because people who speak English with MTI know that they speak wrong. They know that people make fun of them when they speak English and so, they refrain from speaking English altogether.

Some more Effects of MTI are:

  • Lack of confidence in speaking English
  • Embarrassment in communicating with others publicly
  • Inability to speak English properly due to internalisation of sounds from the mother tongue
  • Slow career/academic growth

Most of our students ask us why MTI is such a big issue. Are the various accents in the world, such as American and British accents, not an example of MTI?

Yes, technically speaking these accents are also an example of MTI. But the difference is that these are universally accepted and uniform. In India, there is no consistency. We do have a standard Indian accent which we aim to make popular, but there is still a long way to go. As of now, The northern part of India speaks English in a different manner, the southern part has its own pronunciation and way of speaking and so on. Not just that, there are variations within the state as well! This is why MTI is an issue in India.

How to get rid of MTI

It is difficult to get rid of something you have internalised. However, it is not impossible. You can get rid of it by investing time and effort into it: practice with dedication and you shall succeed!

Ways to remove MTI:

  1. Practice tongue twisters to improve focus while speaking English.
  2. Read text aloud and note down the words that you pronounce incorrectly to practice later.
  3. Listen to podcasts to observe and understand the correct sound of each syllable.
  4. Listen to an English news channel every day to improve pronunciation.
  5. Watch English movies and listen to English songs to find out how native English speaker speak English.
  6. Join Spoken English classes and have your trainer correct you on the spot as you speak.
  7. Record yourself speaking English to find out which words you pronounce incorrectly.

In conclusion, I’d like to say that we need not be ashamed of how we speak. But, we need to neutralise our MTI in order to achieve a standard Indian accent that will be universally acceptable.

I hope this blog changed your perception. Do not forget to read our last blog on How to Speak English Confidently if you haven’t already!

See you again!



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