Sunday, March 18, 2012

Mother Tongue


Unesco has stressed the significance of the mother tongue for over 50 years. Save the Children's 2009 report for the CfBT education trust, Language and Education: The Missing Link, hammers home this message [..] The research evidence on mother tongue-based multilingual education is unambiguous. English-medium education in postcolonial contexts that neglects mother tongues and local cultural values is clearly inappropriate and ineffective.

Also from the link above: Dr Rigoberta Menchú, Nobel Peace Laureate and UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Culture of Peace, writes: “Many people know what it is like to struggle in school. Others know what it is like to be forced to drop out. For many children, this deep frustration and disappointment is not caused by physical or monetary barriers, but by the decision to teach in a language which they do not understand…


This is a big problem in developing countries. Many schools use English to teach natural sciences for instance which in the long run hampers the transmission of the subject matter in depth. Yes, one advantage of foreign language based teaching is being able to use English based material immediately in class [1], but this single advantage is erased by other factors that work to a child's disadvantage. Plus, the teaching material issue can be fixed easily; teachers prepare their own lecture material in their own language. Surely not every teacher might be able to do this, but this blog's position is already that only top-notch researchers teaching and their video lectures to be transmitted to millions of children anyway, so we dont really give a f-k about problems of regular teachers, or the dysfunctional system that is based on their presence.


[1] Most of the other perceived "advantages" of this system are plain wrong. FLBT complicates the teaching of subjects and fails to teach the language itself for regular use. A famous Turkish researcher told a story: he comes to Harvard after studying under FLBT system for many years, after he lands, he meets his advisor for the first time who asks him: "How long did your trip take?" to which our guy answers "I am fine thank you". There are many stories like this. FLBT students only learn enough of language to get by, nothing more.

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