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MOTHER LANGUAGE AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN EDUCATION

February 21 is International Mother Language Day and we are diving into the way native language usage has diminished over a period of time and how its loss can actually hamper us.

  • 05Apr,2020

    MOTHER LANGUAGE AND ITS IMPORTANCE IN EDUCATION

    February 21 is International Mother Language Day and we are diving into the way native language usage has diminished over a period of time and how its loss can actually hamper us.

    In our 25 years of combined experience, our educators often have quite strong feelings about the utilization of a learners first language within the classroom – it’s either encouraged or forbidden. Garcia and Sylvan (2011) describe monolingual education as outdated in our current ‘globalized’ world and discourage the practise of imposing just one language. In fact, they suggest that teachers should support students in developing their awareness of their mother tongue also because of the language of instruction. Although this might not feel entirely practical, the educators often feel the necessity to be competent altogether of the languages getting used within the classroom. However, it’s possible to support the native language or the mother tongue as we call it. Here are the ways educators, parents and learners can work on their mother tongue along with English or any other language.

    1. Translators (Google Translate, translation pens, dictionaries). Try to use an app and glide the camera of an iPhone or iPad over text to urge a translation to the language of your choice or, even simpler, speak into the app and your translation appears. If iPhones or iPads aren’t an option, translation pens or simply Google translate on laptops does an equivalent .
    2. Set assignments for learners to debate curriculum topics with parents so learners get a fuller understanding of the subject and develop the vocabulary in their home language.  Parents have to attempt to promote academic development of their child’s maternal language reception. Though families converse in their mother tongue mostly, academic communication too should be encouraged.
    3. Pair pupils by home language in order that they can discuss the subject in their home language before posing for responses in English. Practicing as pairs helps build confidence in the second language speech and articulation.
    4. Teach learners’ the importance of continuing to converse in their home language and take pride in it. Often, attitudes towards mother tongue are harsh and learners tend to feel important only if they speak in English which isn’t a right thing to do.
    5. Ask learners to  remember a book which shows vocabulary in English and maternal language . Bilingual books have started gaining prominence in India. Tulika is one of the publishers that emphasises on bilingual learning. Teach the learners the way to use it by looking, covering, saying and checking.
    6. Encourage students to translate new vocabulary and language structures in school and write within the home language in their books to assist them remember.
    7. For fast vocabulary learning, provide learners with flashcards (and useful ways to use them), populated by themselves in English and their home language.
    8. Learners can share work completed in their home language with other learners, with parents or with the surrounding people like neighbours in both languages.
    9. Pre-teach language structures and vocabulary with significant emphasis on translation from the maternal language .
    10. Learners can match specific language structures to their maternal language and identify the differences. These differences help them to be more conscious of how both languages are formed and use both more accurately.

    The importance of developing the maternal language is now widely accepted among researchers. Cummins is at the forefront of this discussion as he contends that knowledge in one language helps learners to know information in another language (2000). Other researchers like Atkinson (1987) and Kim (2011) advocate the importance of the maternal language within the classroom and suggest that the mother’s language is a useful tool. In Kim’s (2011) study it had been clear that the utilization of the maternal language , specifically translation, helped the learners to acknowledge the importance of accuracy and led them to be more objective about their writing. If these studies don’t convince you, then we don’t know what would. Learn English to grow global but also be in touch with your mother tongue to stay grounded and local! Languages aren’t good or bad – they are equal and each have their own importance.

    05,Apr 2020

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