Presentation on theme: "Mother-language based Multilingual Education in the Early Years"— Presentation transcript:
1 Mother-language based Multilingual Education in the Early Years Jessica BallSchool of Child and Youth CareHuman Early Learning Partnership: REACH UVICUniversity of VictoriaUNESCO International Symposium:Translation and Cultural Mediation – Information Session
2 Invigorate supports for learning in mother-tongue in early years Until now, deliberations have focused on language use, development, & maintenance in formal schooling & beyond.Little discussion or research on mother-tongue use, development & maintenance in the early years when family members & early childhood practitioners are the child’s first teachers.
3 4 Cornerstones to secure a strong foundation for young children Consultative Group on Early Childhood Care & Development1. Start at the beginning: parenting programmes, services for vulnerable families.2. Get ready for success: access to early childhood care & development programmes3. Improve primary school quality4. Include early childhood in policiesMother-tongue should be the primary vehicle for communication in each of these foundational strategies
4 Start at the beginningEarly childhood programmes: birth to 8 years oldCounter linguistic & cultural lossFulfill children’s rights to learn in their mother tongueEnsure familiar culture & language during transition to school
5 Overview What are we talking about? Who are we talking about? Why are we talking about it?How are we talking about it?What’s known?What’s new?What’s next?
6 What are we talking about? Mother tongue:The language acquired in early years & that has become his/her natural instrument of thoughts and communication (UNESCO)Early childhood programs:Supports for primary caregivers,practitioners in programmes addressingchild health, development & early learning,& children from birth through 8 years of age
7 Who are we talking about? Some children’s mother tongue is privileged in early learning programmes.Other children’s mother tongue is dismissed, denied, or given only token support by dominant society, cultural institutions, schools, and policies.Language-in-education policies routinely contribute to the minoritization of children whose mother tongue is not the privileged language(s).These are the children we’re talking about it.
8 Why are we talking about it? Cultural & linguistic endangermentEducational inequitiesChallenges to implementing mother-tongue based early learning programs
9 How are we talking about it? Various frameworks provide rationales:RightsCultural & linguistic endangerment/lossPsycho-social developmentParticipation:EducationLabour forceCivil society
10 Child rightsUNCRC (1989) Article 30: stipulates right of Indigenous Peoples to use their own language in schooling.UNCRC General Comment 7:Young children are holders of all rights enshrined in the Convention.Early childhood is a critical period for realization of these rights.Early childhood: birth through transition to school (8 yrs)Programs & policies are required to realize rights in early childhoodRecognize & incorporate diversities in culture, language, and child rearing.
11 Parental rights UNCRC Article 29 Education of the child shall be directed to development of respect for the child’s parents, and the child’s own cultural identity, language and values, as well as for the national values of the country in which the child is living….(Also Article 5)
12 Community rightsUN Convention and Recommendation against Discrimination in Education specifically recognizes “the right of the members of national minorities to carry on their own educational activities, including…the use or the teaching of their own language.”
13 Community rightsUN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities (1992, Article 4)Affirms the rights of minorities, including Indigenous Peoples, to learn and/or have instruction in their mother tongue or heritage language.
14 Cultural and linguistic endangerment / loss The world’s repository of language and culture is steadily depleted by language-in-education policies that impose dominant languages on children’s learning journeys.Of languages spoken globally now,10-50% will be spoken by 2099.“Linguistic genocide” (Skutnabb-Kangas)Language loss endangers identity, heritage, belonging, cultural knowledges
15 Psychological development Cultural identity associated with speaking the language of one’s culture of originCultural knowledge embodied in languageBelonging within a cultural community that shares a language or dialectInter-generational communicationSelf-concept: who am I? Commonalities with ancestors/ Distinctiveness from othersSelf-esteem: proud of who one is & special competencies associated with family of origin
16 Participation Speech, language & literacy enable participation Sense of place & value in education, labour force, civil societyFamiliarity with school, work & social environmentsCivil society rich in diverse linguistic & cultural competenciesCommunity empowerment
17 Educational equityUNESCO (1953) encourages mother tongue based early learning & primary schoolChildren entering unfamiliar learning environments in an unfamiliar language:a significant contributor to persistent high rates of early school non-attendance, non-engagement, and failure among minority & Indigenous children.
18 Moral imperativeAffirming the right of families to support children’s learning in their mother language.Affirming the responsibility of the global community to protect linguistic and cultural diversity and to strengthen languages at risk of being lost.
19 What is known?The dominant language in a society is presented to children and families as normative, desired, privileged, high status, and, very often, the required language of early learning and all education programs.For minority language children, this is a SUBMERSION approach (a.k.a. Sink or Swim).Subtractive bilingualism … second language becomes more proficient than mother tongue.
20 Children do not ‘soak up languages like sponges!’ Many children grow up speaking more than one language.But language does not spring forth in full bloom during the early years.Language acquisition takes a long time.Outcomes range from conversational fluency to academic proficiency.Depends on many factors
22 Alternative language-in-education approaches Mother tongue-based programsBilingual (two-way bilingual) programsMultilingual programs***Developmental bilingualismMother tongue as primary language while second language is introduced as a subject of study for eventual transition to learning in the second language
23 Alternative approaches cont’d “Bridging”: Planned transition from one language to another‘Short cut’ or ‘early exit’: abrupt transition after only 2 or 3 years of school.‘Late transition’ or ‘late exit’: transition after child has cognitive academic proficiency in first language (CALP)
24 Maintenance bi/multilingual education After second language is introduced, both first and second languages are media of instruction.First language instruction as a medium of instruction or subject of study ensures ongoing support for academic proficiency in the mother tongue.Also called ‘additive bilingual education’ (languages are added but do not displace mother tongue)
25 Tentative conclusions of research (Lightbown, 2008) Children can acquire 2+ languages in EYLanguages don’t compete for ‘mental space’ and bilingualism doesn’t ‘confuse’ children.Given adequate inputs & opportunities for interaction, children can acquire multi-lingual proficiencyCognitive advantages of developing proficiency in 2+ languagesEarly learning is no guarantee of continued development or lifelong retention: languages can be maintained, attenuated, or forgotten
26 Tentative conclusions of research Late transition is better than short cutWhile children can learn more than one language, whether they develop more than conversational fluency about everyday events in a language depends on increasingly advanced learning opportunities in that languageCognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) takes about 6 years of formal educationALL OF PRIMARY SCHOOL!!
27 What about immersion programs? Immersion programs are provided entirely in a language that is new to the child.Popular in foreign language instruction and in heritage mother tongue revitalization initiatives
28 Immersion programs for recovering an endangered language Heritage mother tongues: the living root of contemporary identities, regardless of whether one speaks the language. (McCarty)
29 Eskasoni Immersion Program: “A place to be Mi’kmaq” Indigenous ‘First Nation’ in Nova Scotia, Canada English or Mi’kmaq from preschool through secondary school. Indigenous pedagogies & academic content 75% of graduates went on to college
31 Hawaiian language immersion Aha Pu_nana LeoHawaiian language immersionFrom 50 to 10,000 speakers in just 20 yearsTotal family commitmentLanguage & culture curriculumHawaiian medium schools & tracks within schoolsEnglish at home, English as a subject of study.(Wilson, Kamana & Rawlins)
34 Kaugel First Language First program Papua New GuineaTotal family commitmentParents generated curriculum resourcesAvailability of highly proficient speakers of the heritage mother tongue… who have some training and lots of energy to work with very young children!
35 Mudiad Ysgolion Meithrin Welsh-medium programsNursery, infant-toddler playgroups, preschoolWelsh-medium, English-medium, & bilingual schooling optionsSecond language taught as subject of studyCommunity commitmentGovernment language-in-education policy supportPolitical will – funding for children’s and parents’ rights to education in language of choice
37 Challenges & opportunities Need multi-level commitments:Parents: to value their home languageAha Pu_nana Leo requires commitment from parents to learn the language & continue to seek schooling for their child in HawaiianPreschools: to see mother tongue as a language for ‘school readiness’Schools: to provide language streams for children to continue learning their mother tongue & IN their mother tongue*Government: to enshrine children’s right to learn in their mother tongue in policies, & invest in training, employment, curriculum development & schooling throughout primary school in the mother tongue
38 Training & employmentRecruit, incentivize, & support mother tongue speakers as early learning practitioners, teachers, advisorsKaugel First Language First Program – involved parents & other community members
39 Curriculum Resource Development Curriculum is living & made meaningful in specific cultural & linguistic frames of referenceTranslation vs. interpretationCultural mediation is needed to create relevant, meaningful learning activities & materialsCulturally based knowledge is embedded in the languageCommunity involvement is vital!
40 Indigenous pedagogies Not only what is taught but howMulti-literacies (oral, text-based, non-verbal)Computer-mediated learning activities need a cultural and pedagogical frame
41 What’s next?Need research documentation of learning outcomes of alternative mother tongue based EY programsRaise awareness of parents as children’s first language teachers & helping parents make informed decisions (e.g., Toronto School District: DVD “Value Your Language”)Computer generated curriculum resources developed collaboratively by linguistic interpreters, cultural mediators, early childhood practitioners, & community members.Advocacy with government to set language-in-education policies that support learning in & through children’s mother tongue.
42 UNESCO online libraryUNESCO (2008). Mother tongue instruction in early childhood education: A selected bibliography. Paris: UNESCO.UNESCO (2010). Educational equity for children from diverse backgrounds: Mother tongue-based bilingual or multilingual education in the early years: Literature Review.
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