Today is International Mother Language Day and our blog is turning multilingual today. We are hosting a series of blog posts by different authors, illustrators, parents, educators and children - sharing their thoughts on languages and more. International Mother Language Day is an observance held annually on 21 February worldwide to promote awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. 2015 is the 15th anniversary of International Mother Language Day.
The World Education Blog has an great post with many examples on how speaking a minority language should not mean being disadvantaged. Earlier today shared similar posts written by Smruti Jena and Kaushik Vaghela about the need for mother language education and the difficulties faced when the teaching language differs.
The EFA movement has long promoted bilingual education to ensure quality of education. Many of the problems in these areas stem from large communities being discouraged from participating in educational programmes because their spoken tongues are disregarded or considered inferior. To address this issue, governments are implementing effective policies to preserve and protect dialects, as well as to ensure that every citizen have access to education in their native language. As a matter of fact, there is a global trend of recognising minority languages as part of a country’s cultural make-up and even giving them official statuses can considerably change people’s experiences and attitudes in education.
To combat adult illiteracy, language recognition was a key strategy. In 2000, the government launched a programme, Modelo Educación para la Vida y el Trabajo, with an initiative to incorporate representatives of minority language groups in educational initiatives. The government’s efforts to identify the importance of the range of languages spoken in Mexico and their quotidian practice led to usage of 45 languages in learning and teaching literacy. This method reduced the level of illiteracy in Mexico from 4.7 % in 2006 to 3.5% by 2015.
Since dialects are important to society because they enhance diversity, conserve traditions and amplify countries’ rich cultural backgrounds and it is imperative to offer opportunities for the youngest. For example, the ‘language nest model’ early childhood program in New Zealand allows Maori children to retain their customs by using their ancestral language in interaction with the elders in their community.