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Nord Anglia
21 February, 2024

The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education

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On International Mother Language Day, we explore how the mother tongue is a key to academic success, and how you can help your child flourish in their first language.

A strong sense of belonging and cross-cultural critical thinking are just two strengths that blossom from fostering the mother tongue in children.

We know that children thrive when they’re happy – academically, socially and emotionally – and research shows that having a strong connection to the mother tongue language builds confidence, inclusion and an enthusiasm for learning.

 

More than that, within an inclusive environment fostering the mother tongue language in education also leads to greater engagement in the classroom and academic success, says Assistant Head of Secondary at the British International School Hanoi, Gemma Archer.

The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education

“Bi-, tri- and multilingual learners build a unique cognitive muscle that allows them to think critically at a greater depth, preparing them for global challenges in the future world of work,” she said. “And our students learn to embrace their mother tongue in our warm culture of belonging that honours each child’s unique heritage.”

 

At the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi, a Nord Anglia Education school, students also take the lead on continuing to build their mother tongue language skills, initiating student-led reading circles (combining critical thinking and reading habits) and student-led parent workshops (demonstrating how these approaches to reading helps them learn).

 

“In the United Kingdom, children from homes where English isn’t the main spoken language now outperform others in a monolingual family. The way multilingual students are able to think differently gives them flexibility, creativity and a cross-cultural sensitivity and competence that will help them fill trending gaps employers are seeing in the workforce,” she said.

 

“We can see innovation and creativity developing too, and a distinct advantage in agility within Nord Anglia Education schools around the world.”

The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education-The importance of teaching mother tongue language in education

 

HOW CAN I HELP NURTURE MY CHILD’S MOTHER TONGUE LANGUAGE?

There are many things you can do to support your child’s emotional wellbeing, social development and academic performance through their mother tongue language.

  1. Support your child’s reading at home in their first language – both through fiction and non-fiction books.
  2. Ask your child thought-provoking questions to ignite interesting conversations at the dinner table.
  3. Make your multilingual child feel proud of their first language, with positive reinforcements and references to their language skills.
  4. Express complex thoughts and emotions using your child’s first language, to teach them vocabulary and expressions that they may find challenging to articulate. Remember, their first language isn’t just a way to communicate, but a gateway to their cultural identity, too.
  5. Develop their critical thinking skills in multiple languages to enhance their cognitive flexibility.

 

In March, industry leading academic experts around the world from premium international schools group Nord Anglia Education will join their peers in Hanoi, Vietnam, to explore innovative approaches in teaching and learning, to ensure children are prepared to thrive in the future world of work.

 

Hosted by the British Vietnamese International School Hanoi and the British International School, world education leaders will meet with parents, students and the wider Hanoi community to share best practice, exciting research, and innovative ideas in education.