Freshman Pavan Kolluru Speaks Both English and Telugu

Connecting Through Language


Credit to Paige Westermann

Surrounded by cultural differences, freshman Pavan Kolluru shares his story of his Indian culture and the struggles and benefits of fluently speaking two languages. “The culture and the way of life is different, just by going through the streets you can see a big change,” Kolluru said.

By Karsyn Williams, North Star Reporter

Growing up surrounded by the sounds of two different languages, he heard one from his family and another from his friends. Freshman Pavan Kolluru is the son of India-born parents whose native tongue is Telugu. Over time, due to being surrounded by both languages, Pavan learned English and Telugu.

“It [knowing other languages] opens doors to relate to and talk with other people,” Pavan said. “My family raised me with this language.”

Pavan’s family lived in Andhra Pradesh, an Indian state on the Southeast coast of the country. After moving to Missouri in 2004, Pavan was born and at first was only introduced to one language.

“We used to talk to him only in Telugu, until he went to school.” said Ram Kolluru, Pavan’s father. “His sister used to talk to him in English. All other family [members] talk in Telugu.”

While speaking to his parents and sister, visiting relatives in India, seeing family members visit and even watching movies, Pavan was speaking and listening to Telugu. Once school started, he was introduced to the English language and began learning how to speak it.

“First grade and kindergarten were a little confusing, but he can switch [between languages] very quickly,” Ram said.

Despite speaking in English mostly while at school, Pavan still talks to his family members and his other fluent friends from FHN in Telugu. His bilingualism allows for him to communicate with others he would’ve never been able to in English, such as when he and his family visits India.

“It’s a new way to communicate with people,” Pavan said. “It’s kinda cool. [To] communicate a lot differently.”

Many people who speak multiple languages find that it is easier to learn another language due to their past experience in learning languages. Pavan wants to learn more languages and is currently taking a Spanish I class at FHN which, as a bilingual, comes to him easier than it would for monolinguals. His ability to know two languages can also benefit him with future job opportunities, as it allows for more communication as a business.

“You can communicate with a lot of people around the world,” Anelise Mossinghoff, Pavan’s Spanish teacher at FHN, said. “You can learn about the culture and understand the people more.”

Pavan would like to expand his field of languages by adding Hindi to his vocabulary. The language is one of the official languages of India and is spoken by over 550 million people worldwide. Hearing many people speak Hindi on his trips to India, Pavan became interested in the language and wanted to learn it as well.

“Whenever you go to new countries there’s always different languages,” Pavan said. “I want to learn Hindi to be able to communicate a lot differently, [to] speak to more people in India.”