11-year-old who speaks 6 languages is example of 1M’sia


KUANTAN: A Year Five pupil, P Thanhya Phrassanna Naidu, has become an embodiment of ‘1Malaysia’, with her wide mastery of languages.

The 11-year-old is capable of conversing in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Tamil, Mandarin, Arab, as well as a smattering of the Thai language.

Sharing the experience that enabled her to acquire diverse languages, Thanhya said she learnt Mandarin when attending a Chinese kindergarten; Thai, when staying in Jitra, Kedah where there was a Thai community; and acquired the Arab language when her father was on duty in Saudi Arabia.

The youngest of three was speaking to Bernama at the closing ceremony of the Eighth National-level Al-Quran recitation and Arabic choral speaking competition (Kalam Jamaie competition) for schools under the education ministry here today.

Due to her fluency in Arab, she was made a member of the Arab choral-speaking team, ‘Sauntinnajah’, at her school, Sekolah Kebangsaan Sultan Ahmad Tajuddin that represented Kedah in the competition.

Thanhya’s participation in the competition for the second time saw her team winning second place and defeating 16 teams representing the state.

Her attire which comprised a green ‘baju kurung’ with yellow ‘selendang’ caught the attention of the audience, especially Pahang Menteri Besar, Adnan Yaakob when he gave away the prizes.

Thanhya speaks English and Tamil at home while at school, she converses in Bahasa Malaysia.

“I converse in Mandarin when talking to my Chinese friends so that I don’t lose my mastery over it, Arabic when talking with my choral-speaking group and Thai when mingling with the Thai-speaking community,” she said.

Although physically small, Thanhya has big ambitions and aspires to be a doctor someday.

She said speaking Arabic was a breeze as her father, lecturer K Puspiakaran and mother, S Parvathy, both 46, also conversed in the language.

She attributed her mastery in the Arabic language to the family’s three-year stay in Saudi Arabia.

Beaming with pride over his daughter’s skills, Puspiakaran said the girl’s “young age” enabled her to easily master diverse languages and that such skills could come in handy as one grew older.