Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Importance of Mother Tongue

We are living in a time of unprecedented travel, with technological advances and globalization offering more and more people the opportunity to explore and live in cultures that are not their own. International schools have been established and are rapidly growing in popularity, offering easier access to higher education around the world. As a consequence, the number of children learning in a language other than their mother tongue is growing rapidly.
Research indicates that having a strong mother tongue foundation leads to better understanding of curriculum as well as a positive attitude towards learning. Hence, it is vital that children maintain their first language when they begin schooling in a different one.

Early Language Development

Young children learn language rapidly and effortlessly. The transition from babbling at 6 months of age to full sentences by the age of 3 occurs briskly, following a consistent developmental path regardless of culture. Before the end of the first-year children learn from experience and develop a language-specific phonetic capacity and detect native-language word forms, learning implicitly and informally. 

Development of Mother Tongue

Early language exposure plays an important role in shaping the young brain. A recent study discovered that babies only a few hours old can differentiate sounds between their native language and a foreign language. They found that during the last 10 weeks in the uterus, babies listen to their mothers talk, learning how to identify speech patterns of their mother’s native tongue even before they are born. Learning to produce the sounds that characterize infants as speakers of their ‘mother tongue’ is equally challenging and is not completely mastered until the age of 8. The speaking patterns we adopt early in life go with us a long way. 

Benefits of Mother Tongue

Mother tongue refers to a child’s first language, the language learned at home from elders. Mother Tongue has a very important role in framing our thoughts and emotions. According to studies, a child’s ability to learn an additional language greatly improves if their first language skills are well developed. Research shows that children who have a strong foundation in their home language are more successful at school and enjoy a greater feeling of self-worth and identity. 

Multilingual Education

Bilingual and multilingual education should be encouraged by imparting early education in the child’s first language or in the language that they speak at home. The IB supports and advocates the importance of learning inmother tongue. As the IBO states, gaining and maintaining proficiency in one’s mother tongue helps in the learningother languages. It also provides students with a deeper understanding of inter-cultural awareness. As proficiency in one’s mother tongue is an indicator for later academic success, students should begin studying their mother tongue as soon as possible based on each individual case. (IBO)

We at Edify believe that it is vital that all students have the opportunity to maintain and develop their mother-tongue. We acknowledge that fluencyin one’s mother-tongue is crucial for both cognitive development and maintaining cultural identity. We recognize the importance of strengthening our students’ home languages, while at the same time learning the school’s medium of instruction in English. 

How Can Parents Help?

  • When at home, communicate with children only in your mother tongue 
  • Promote knowledge and interest by reading out from books or telling stories in your mother tongue
  • Encourage your child to read books in your mother tongue
These steps will help children retain a positive attitude toward their mother tongue and cultural background resulting in increased self-esteem.

Ketaki Joshi
I would be glad to address any queries which you may have. You may connect with me on +91 77419-30000 to set up a meeting. I am available to all the parents, every Wednesday at Edify International School, Pune

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