Language is the gateway to culture , and culture is what Tamania Naqi is trying to preserve through her online alter ego, Super Urdu Mom .

Originally from Pakistan, Naqi started a blog to chronicle the ways she is teaching her four-year-old daughter, who was born in Canada, about Urdu language and culture .

“Parents in Pakistan take it for granted,” she said. “Kids learn the language by talking to grandparents or talking to neighbours. Now, we have to provide that environment for her.”

According to the 2011 census, Urdu is among the 10 most common, non-official mother tongues spoken in Calgary, just ahead of Mandarin and Vietnamese.


So, it’s no surprise Naqi’s blog has taken off with other Urdu parents. What’s unexpected, however, is that English-speaking families have also been watching the videos Naqi posts, in which she reads Urdu children’s stories.

“I have a neighbour, she’s Canadian, I do these Urdu stories on my blog and her children listen to it,” Naqi explained. “She says, ‘I want to expose them to another language, because of the advantages of being bilingual , they are so well established.’ Exposing a child to another language is so good for their early brain development.”

To Naqi, it’s not about rejecting Canadian values, but finding a harmony with them.

“You want to be part of this society and community, but you also want to have your own identity,” she said.

“Home for me now is both Islamabad (Pakistan) and it’s also Calgary. So when I’m here in Calgary, I’m always talking about back home in Islamabad. But when I visit Islamabad, I’m talking about Calgary.

“Home becomes two places, both of which are very dear to you.”

For her children, who were born in Canada, she realized they were losing a part of their heritage.

Naqi and her husband, having learned English as part of their education in Pakistan, mostly spoke English at home. As her daughter began preschool, she realized she wanted her daughter to know more about her roots.

On her blog, she shares recipes, book titles, and experiences with her daughter.

In a recent post, she writes about taking her daughter to watch a popular Pakistani movie playing in Calgary. As it started, her daughter related the tension between two siblings on-screen to that of Anna and Elsa from the movie Frozen.

Naqi said the film, with its Pakistani princesses, had a huge impact on her, as it makes a difference to have heroes that look like her, and that she can relate to. While Western media has made improvements by adding more diverse characters to their casts, there is still a long way to go, she said.

One day Naqi hopes to write children’s books of her own, but for now her writing efforts are focused on her blog, which can be found at urdumom.com.

Courtesy Metro News