"Children need to be taught in their own language, at least in the first five to six years of school, because it provides a better and more effective learning. Yet teachers all over the world over often teach in a language in which children - and often also teachers themselves - do not understand good enough. The resulted outcome is a poorer school performance than if the instruction had been given in a language that children and teachers could follow."
Teaching in the mother language contributes to improved learning and also ensures more girls education, it is important for minority groups and provides a better basis for learning in other subjects, writes the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) in their website in connection with the celebration of the International Mother Language Day today, 21 February.
NORAD points out that despite the fact the teaching in the mother language in schools is a human right, there are millions of children who do not attend school in several countries.
- Language barrier is one of several barriers to children's education. Therefore, it has become increasingly essential to use the students' native language in teaching. Teachers need to be trained to teach in a language that students understand and use and textbooks must be made on the students' native language, writes NORAD.
NORAD refers to studies which show that children need to be taught in their own language for the first five to six years of school, because this provides better and more effective learning. Yet, teachers often use a teaching language in which both the children and - and often also teachers themselves - do not understand good enough.
- The result is poorer school performance than if the instruction had been given in a language that the children and teachers understand, writes NORAD.
Minority groups with a different language at home than school lacks academic progress and will not be included among the other students. This leads, among other things to a greater school dropout.
- When teaching is at the child's mother language, one also often establish a better contact between schools and parents, writes NORAD.
It is also noted that education in the mother language help children become proficient at acquiring other languages and infor learning in other subjects, such as mathematics.
- It is therefore no contradiction between getting instruction in child's native language and learning a country's official language, on the contrary, writes NORAD.
NORAD concludes the article by referring to studies from Asia which shows that teaching in mother tongue is also important to ensure that girls are given the opportunity for education.
- Girls are generally less likely than boys to be exposed to other languages than their mother tongue at home and therefore more likely to drop out of school when the instruction is in a language they do not understand. In addition, the risk that girls are exposed to abuse or exploitation of teachers is reduced when the student and teacher share the same linguistic background, writes NORAD.
The editor of morsmal.org, On Elpeleg both agrees and disagrees with NORAD:
- It is true in theory at least that mother language education should contribute to better learning of subjects, majority language language and to better inclusion. There is also no doubt that multilingualism is useful for the state economy and is the key to the globalized world. Nevertheless, I and many others believe that the way that mother language education has been practiced in the Norwegian schools in recent years has hurt minority students and the society, says Elpeleg.
Elpeleg believes that the multilingual education system in Norway suffers from a lack of competence and purpose on several levels.
- It appears that the lack of expertise from top to bottom in education leads to opposite results. To start with, the current national curricula applying for immigrants could have been written by professionally qualified experts. It is well known that the planning of multicultural education at the national level has contributed to the abuse of resource in party conferences and hotels for bureaucrats while minority students still need additional lessons and close monitoring in schools. There is also evidence that many schools use 3rd. generation "immigrants" to "suck" more money from the state. Such education policies harm minority students and give a bad impression of multilingualism in Norway, explains Elpeleg.
Norway should be an example to the rest of the world:
- Norway should and can be an example to the rest of the world when it comes to the benefits of teaching in the mother tongue. But this requires major changes from top to bottom. I think that the government should first and foremost let experts examine the current conditions in the relevant national agencies that supervise the multicultural education in Norway, concludes Elpeleg.
5 facts about language in school: - 221 million children have another mother tongue than that used as the teaching language in schools - In about 30 countries in sub-Saharan Africa the official language is not the same language used at home - Children are often taught in a language they do not necessarily understand - Over 20% of students with lowest number of years of school, belong to groups who speak languages that are not used in the classroom - In all regions of the world there are differences in languages: to speak the official language at home reduces the risk considerably for having fewer than four years of school
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