Learning a Language the Fun way

Taproot Learn Tenyidie Series.

Taproot Learn Tenyidie Series.

Ketoriavi Sakhrie has recently published a set of board books titled, Learn Tenyidie series. Collaborating with Ura Academy, the premier literary institution in Tenyidie language and literature, the series begins with a set of colourful, easy to read books for children.  The age group is not mentioned but it can be easily used by children aged 4 to 6 or 7. In today’s world of screentime competing with parental time, many young parents are facing the problem of their children becoming fluent in English but quite ignorant in their native languages. After all, they hear English spoken all around them, and it is comparatively easier to pick up than Tenyidie or any native language which they seldom come into contact with outside their home environments. It means children are being exposed to many different English speaking surroundings. Even preschool children pick up English from children’s TV shows and Disney movies and Peppa Pig. Children’s songs in English have catchy tunes that the youngest ones pick up and acquaint themselves with the sounds of words in English.

Ketoriavi is a young mother of three and a multilingual speaker who learned her native language, Tenyidie, at a later age. Besides English, she speaks Tangkhul fluently, it being her mother’s language. But when she became a mother, she saw the need to make sure her children could speak their father’s language. She discovered that it was a common problem of young working parents of today who combine work with parenting. The Learn Tenyidie series is her effort towards making the native language accessible and memorable to young minds.

The Learn Tenyidie series is delightful. They come in six books.

Learn counting in Tenyidie is accompanied by easy to comprehend drawings by Vitoto Sakhrie. 

Learn names of fruits in Tenyidie has fruits that are common to Nagaland and can be found in the market as well as in the jungles. Besides Grapes – Khube, Banana – Thayie, Guava – Muduram, Passion fruit – Bel, and Orange- Shiihuo, she includes two native fruits, Ciehu and Merosi. Ciehu is commonly known as gooseberry and quite abundant in the hills, while Merosi is a lesser known native fruit sour to taste.

The next book, Learn colours in Tenyidie is creative and imaginative. She not only shows the colours but adds visuals that will stick in a child’s mind. For example the colour green-pejo, has a green frog, and the colour yellow-mehe, shows a yellow duckling. Red – merie is a tomato, orange – meriemehe, is a carrot, and blue-keloshii is a blue inkpot. Ketoriavi brings home the importance of association of the visual with the spoken in order to impress the word lesson on the learner. 

The series is very child-friendly. The names of domestic animals show young animals that a child would immediately warm to. Tefii-dog is a pup, and Nyienuo-cat is a fluffy kitten. Mithu-cow looks like a mini cow, while thevo-pig is quite merry and shorter than your average pig. Temvii-goat, thezu-mouse, tekuo-lamb, khuo-fish, thevii-chicken, and hashii-duck, all appear in miniature, smiling widely.

More interesting is the fact that she has presented the series on names of wild animals in the same manner. The wild animals do not appear threatening as the pictures show cub versions of tekhu-tiger, menyi-boar, tso-elephant, meseru-fox, thega-bear, and snake-tinhyii. A smiling porcupine-chiekru looks ready to dispel his spikes. The figures are playful and friendly. Illustrator Vitoto Sakhrie, has captured perfectly the mood of the book and set it down. The artwork is perfect for children and gets the message across very sweetly. What more can a parent want? 

Ketoriavi’s book gives many good ideas for starting language lessons early for children. If we want our younger generations to be able to speak our languages, we have to realize we are in competition with many distracting forces. When native language learning is presented attractively in the manner that Ketoriavi has done, we can win the linguistic battle. I do encourage other language speakers who might be facing the same problem to take out a page from this series. Bless you Ketoriavi and may you birth many more beautiful ideas like this in days to come.

(Learn Tenyidie Series is available at The Common Room, Crossword Kohima, The White Owl, 7 mile, Chümoukedima, and other major bookstores in Kohima and Dimapur)