Maintaining Mother Tongue


The IB and Victorian Education Department acknowledges that the development of the mother-tongue language is crucial for both cognitive development and maintaining cultural identity.

 

The EAL curriculum provides opportunities for students to draw on their knowledge of the language/s spoken at home as a way to enhance their developing understanding of the English language. The inclusion of plurilingual awareness in the curriculum acknowledges the value of competence in multiple languages. A student who develops plurilingual awareness is able to integrate their knowledge of multiple languages in a way that enriches their communication and learning in all languages. This inclusion in the curriculum validates the importance of language and the role it plays in an individual’s sense of self and identity. (VCAA EAL Curriculum Rationale 2019) 

 

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. (UNESCO)

 

“Children who come to school with a strong foundation in their mother tongue develop stronger literacy abilities in the language used at school. When parents or caregivers are able to spend time with their children and tell stories or discuss issues with them in a way that develops their mother tongue vocabulary and concepts, children come to school well prepared to learn the language of their immigrant country and succeed educationally.” Jim Cummins, Author of Bilingual Children's Mother Tongue Why Is It Important for Education? 

 

You are your child’s first and most important educator and children strongly benefit being able to speak, read and write the home language of their parents or main carer: it is important for their sense of identity and belonging, and it will help them to succeed at school.

 

Beginning to learn English after learning their first language can take time, but your child will not be disadvantaged if they do not speak English at home.

 

Speak, read and write with your child in the language you know best – your home language

 

You are encouraged to speak, read and write with your child as much as you can by:

  • singing, chatting, playing number games and reading to your child in your home language
  • speaking your home language during family outings and celebrations
  • speaking to your child in your home language even if your child responds in English as children can hear differences    between languages
  • helping your child with their homework in your home language, because any skills they acquire can be used at school. (For example, if you teach your child how to multiply in your language, they will understand how to do the same in English).

Maintain your language; enhance your child’s future

 

By speaking, reading and writing with your child in your home language, you are helping them to become bilingual, which has many benefits:

  • Stimulates brain development - Speaking more than one language activates growth in a child’s brain, helping them to think more creatively and solve problems more easily.
  • Enhances English literacy skills - Developing literacy in their home language and English helps children to learn how language works and to become better readers, listeners and communicators.
  • Improves memory, concentration and numeracy skills - Speaking two or more languages strengthens a child’s mental ‘muscle’, improving memory and concentration.
  • Improves overall performance at school - Children who are strong in both English and their home language tend to score better on standardised tests than children who speak one language, particularly in the areas of mathematics, reading and vocabulary.
  • Strengthens children’s sense of identity - Children who are literate in their home language find it easier to retain strong connections to their family, community and culture throughout life.

 

It is crucial to keep speaking, reading and writing with your child in your home language. It will put your child on-track to be proficient in two languages, and ready to seize the world of opportunities that this brings.

 

Victorian Department of Education www.education.vic.gov.au/language