Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:
I think I can.
I speak English, Malayalam , Tamil and Hindi with equal fluency, though I must admit that I would not be able to decipher classical/bookish Malayalam and Tamil. But I am fluent enough to be able to converse in any of the four languages with equal ease.
Malayalam is my mother tongue. So it goes without saying that I would know how to speak quite well in my native language. It is what is spoken at home, with family and with fellow Malayali friends.
English was the medium of instruction at school and college, and all of us spoke to each other only in English at school, ours being a school with kids from all parts of India. Speaking in native languages was not allowed within the school premises. I read a lot of books and they’re all in English.
Although we learnt Hindi as a language at school, spoken Hindi does not come very easily to people unless they actually use it. I used to listen to a lot of Hindi songs during my childhood and teenage, and I used to sing along with them. That improved my diction a lot. Watching Hindi movies also played a big role. I do admit that I make grammatical errors now and then, but my diction is ‘not bad at all’ as per comments I have received from native Hindi speakers ^_^
And Tamil…while growing up, I could understand Tamil quite well thanks to all those Tamil movies and songs that were a part of my childhood. It was when I joined college in Tamil Nadu that I realized that my diction was embarrassing. But that didn’t stop me from speaking in Tamil, though. Over a period of four years, I gradually improved my diction and by the end of four years, I had people telling me that I speak Tamil better than Malayalam LOL 😀 It’s true to a certain extent. Since all my casual conversations with friends were in Tamil, I still find it easier to converse in a friendly manner in Tamil than in Malayalam or Hindi.
And that’s the story of how I became a polyglot 😛 LOL