Since the age of two, I grew up learning and speaking in one language, English. Even though I grew up monolingual, I had many challenges. But, first, let us get on to the story of how I came to speak only in one language.
In my featured blog post, I mentioned that my education started at two, in India. The school, Bala Vidyalaya, and the doctors recommended that I learn only one language as lip reading in two languages is very challenging. My parents had the choice of choosing between Tamil and English. They choose English from kindergarten until now. My education process has always been in English. How did I feel while growing up? I did feel different growing up. There were times I felt isolated from my peers. I also grew up watching my peers struggling to grasp the grammar of another language, and I was glad I did not have to struggle to learn another language. In school, I used the free period to catch up on my love for reading. Yes, there were sad and happy moments being monolingual.
The school, Bala Vidyalaya, and the doctors recommended that I learn only one language as lip reading in two languages is very challenging.
Has it affected my life in some ways? Yes, it has. I have come so far only knowing one language while I come from a family who speaks all three languages, and a country that emphasizes learning Sinhala or Tamil. During the period of doing the ordinary levels, in Sri Lanka, it is compulsory to do the first language (Sinhala or Tamil). Without it, you can not do your advanced levels. This was one obstacle I had to face.
It was all thanks to my father, who made it possible for me to pursue the advanced level language stream. But, we had to go through plenty of struggles to explain to the authorities why I could not do the first language for my ordinary levels. Frankly, it was difficult. We had to submit various letters to different authorities. Soon after we received the confirmation, I could start doing my advanced level without any problem. Did growing up knowing only one language deter me? No, thankfully, with my family support system, I was able to do anything. My father's trust in me and my mother's encouragement made it possible for me to achieve anything. Over a while, I have come up with a system to encourage my self. Now being in a gathering with people speaking in another language does not make me feel isolated. Under the guise of knowing one language, it allows me to catch up on reading or doing something I love to do.
Yes, it deterred me from making bonds with other people. I had to be on the lookout for people with whom I could communicate easily. It deterred me from participating in group chats during school hours. This showed me I would have to stand on my own two feet. Amid these thoughts. I realized that I have two precious friends I could fall back on. I also realized you can do anything despite knowing one language. It takes plenty of willpower not to let this become a negative thought.