Asked 18th Nov, 2015

Do you know what kind of problem face Children when basic primary education is not in mother language?

(Do you support Education should be in mother language?)
In my region there three languages 1. Official  2.National 3.Local
The mother tongue language is Local And National  But Most of Schools they teach primary  in Official language which is not mother tongue language.I support the Education System from primary to Higher Should be in mother tongue.I think the children waste very much time on the learning of a new language Even Some parents meet with me they said we have invested for learning a Official language but We don't get desirable Results ..But those schools which in rural area where lack of Sources Even Basic Faculties of Life.How they can achieve desirable goal.......  But Discussion is open I want to know the opinions and more knowledge by Scholars...

Most recent answer

Abdelkader Mohamed Elsayed
Benha University - Dhofar University
Thanks for you Dr. Allauddin Memon Kohistani .

All Answers (31)

Paul Stephens
University of Stavanger Norway
Dear Allauddin
Check out the site below:
It is a link to a research centre at the University of Stavanger that focuses on questions like the one you raise. I am a professor at the university but am not connected to the research centre. However, the people there know me, so feel free to say I recommended that you contact them. Best wishes and good luck. Paul
2 Recommendations
First, what makes you think that education in  language other than mother tongue is problematic?
Let me be blunt. Unlike  me, and perhaps yourself, children cope easily with  an alien language in which they find themselves. When my children were in school in The Netherlands, my wife, a librarian by profession, used to help out in the primary school - she was in parent teacher activity. She used to report that there were new pupils from Africa,  Morocco, UK, Spain  in the different years. She was absolutely amazed how  within a week or at most two weeks, how quickly these “foreign ” students took to Dutch, and were already able to participate, if at first hesitatingly, in classes, where Dutch was the language of instruction – we are in The Netherlands. If anyone had a problem, it was the Moroccan pupils, who spoke an variant of Arabic. Some of them took and awful long time. But they did merge into the class.  What is interesting is the fact that the Arabic  pupils had had greater difficulty than others. Why, I do not know. Perhaps you know? To come to your question, of course therre may be problems but they are NOT so difficult as to be insurmountable. You may want to read up on any research that has examined the problem, but unfortunately, I do not know of any.
 Another example, but more recent. My sister’s grand-daughter just turned seven, visiting her grandmother in Sweden was enrolled in a school in  a little town there, and within  a week, she was speaking passable Swedish. She was born and lived in Australia until her  recent visit;   her mother enrolled her as she was missing school. My wife from  listening to what  teachers say, and her own personal experience says  that little children will pick up a language very quickly, and this often  occurs during play but once they are past 13-14 years, they seem to  have difficulty.
This is not scientific,  sample size N < 20; but believe me, examples abound of children  being successfully educated in  a language other than their own.  I have given you examples of success in languages other than in mother tongues.
I cannot subscribe to the notion that children must be educated in their mother tongue.  Here is a final example from the USA/Canada. Children of immigrants from China, India, Korea, Vietnam also speak their own mother tongues and do extremely well  in English. Often they emerge as top students vying for places in the Ivy League universities, and their numbers are so high, many of them feel discriminated against as  apparently even with high grades they do not get admitted while others  who are ethnic "Americans" with lower grades than themselves, are offered places.  QED.
1 Recommendation
Reza Biria
Shahid Ashrafi Isfahani University -Isfahan- Iran
Dear Allauddin,
I understand your concern and In think it is theoretically justified. In such contexts usually called immersion program, the child receives instruction in another language, which according to Cummins (1980) , the child would be deprived of the contributions of CALP accumulated in his L1. The literature advocates a program which values the maintenance of the pupil's L! providing a middle of the road approach in which some lessons are offered in L1, while others are presented in L2.
Best regards,
R. Biria
1 Recommendation
Debra Sharon Ferdinand-James
The University of the West Indies at Mona
Dear Allauddin:
While the children may learn to relate with their peers in another language, they do experience some delay in reaching high standards of performance in written work for exams etc. In addition, children are usually socialized thru the use of their mother tongue, which can be different when immersed into a different culture with a different language. I have published an article with my former Methodologist from my doctoral committee that describes some of the communication challenges that such students experience in the classroom when teachers do not cater to their cultural difference (e.g., language). I hope it can be useful to your topic.
Best regards,
1 Recommendation
It is a value laden opinion without a clear statement of 'why' it is better/worse, and also no clear statement of how one would 'measure' the better/worse nature of it.
Is it culturally excluding to teach in a 2nd language? Debatable, especially if first langauge is still predominant at home.
Is it cognitively harmful? Very doubtful.
Is it academically disadvantageous? Almost certainly not, although as a child becomes older and depending at what age a second language is introduced as the primary teaching language you could perhaps make a case for it.
Is it culturally imperialistic, possible, but needs definition and justification. This is the only avenue I can see a plausible line of argument. Then we can enter a discussion about whether it is causing harm, or simply change.
2 Recommendations
Zanafy Gladys Abdoul
University of Antananarivo - Madagascar
Dear Allaudin,
Living in a context where the educational system is based on a former coloniser's language because it has been judged more prestigious by the administrative people, i can sense some parts of  your question, what it is aiming at, because children often feel lost trying to understand words and cultural elements that is foreign to them or  totally alien. As they are taught in a language that they do not meet anywhere else except in school; unlike the children of immigrants who are immersed in the new language and culture in which they are being taught.  Maybe, some precision about what context may be helpful before stating any position.
Best wishes,
Gladys A.
2 Recommendations
David Wheway
Canterbury Christ Church University
You might be interested to visit a Comenius project in Europe that considered ways in which music can support learning a second language.Lots of practical materials on there as well (need to sign up for a password for these).[There is now also a Music and Maths project]
However, (and so as not to narrow it down to  and I think what we learned, was that children naturally learn through socialisation, and perhaps classrooms need to reflect this, rather than emphasise written work, over-use of verbal instruction, and testing.
Best wishes
1 Recommendation
Sintayehu Kassaye Alemu
Mekelle University
Actually it depends on their level of mastery of the other language (s). The issue of language is not genetical; it is rather societal. In a situation where children are not well fluent in the foreign language and do not learn in their mother tongue they may face many problems - Their learning and thinking capacity may not develop as expected. Particularly, their thinking power could be seriously affected because they may not understand what they are learning and studying.
1 Recommendation
Marsha Henderson
University of Derby
In my experience, it is beneficial for young learners to receive extra tuition in L2 while in Primary school - before that is even better. Once they have a solid base in L2, their ordinary education will, as another writer pointed out above, act as an immersion programme. The child will then, very likely, become as proficient in L2 as a native speaker, and have the opportunity to flourish in the subjects they enjoy, and be free to develop socially.
On the flip side, there is a danger that without adequate tuition at this level, their subject knowledge will suffer as they don't understand what is being said to them in their lessons. This may have consequences for future years, if they struggle to catch up once they have acquired the language. They may begin to feel isolated, if they are unable to communicate with their peers. These problems are particularly insidious as they are very likely to undermine the learner's confidence, and motivation.
Class teachers can make a difference to these children's learning, and benefit the entire class, by employing a few simple strategies. Train all learners to follow basic instructions given as pictures by the board - an ear for 'Listen!' - for example. They can keep their own talking to a minimum. Teach the child a few useful phrases, like, 'I don't understand.' or 'Can you repeat that?' Help them make their own dictionary of important words and add one or two at the end of each lesson.
1 Recommendation
Sally Howard
Oxford Brookes University
My experience of teachig  science in another language was that intially these children struggled to articulate the science until they had thought and talked about it in their mother tongue, then they would collectively translate it into the common language of the class.  
Very quickly they gained the approriate language to articulate tricky ideas using metaphore and similies. I recommend giving children of any age time to think, pair shareie think on their own for a minute.  Talk to a buddy in 'home language' then share in new target language.
These children ranged from 4 years old to 15 years old.
2 Recommendations
Günizi Kartal
Bogazici University
Children do respond quickly and with more ease to the challenges in their environment than adults. There are many examples of education systems where the "national" language is taught in schools to the exclusion of minority languages, and children learn even if instruction is not in their own language. However, this does not mean that problems do not exist.
As already mentioned by others, communication problems are expected, because children will have difficulty understanding the instructions. This sometimes causes teachers to infer mistakenly that a child has a learning difficulty, or another disability, which might have serious consequences for the child academically.
When learning to read is considered, one would definitely expect children to run into difficulty, because they won't be able to rely on their phonological awareness skills--crucial in reading acquisition, especially in languages with opaque orthographies. Since phonological awareness is developed long before going to school, children who already have high phonological awareness tend to acquire reading quickly. Providing reading instruction solely in a language other than the child's own will render that child phonologically "unaware." 
There are obviously other problematic aspects of this question, such as cultural dominance, assimilation, language loss, etc. I tried to sketch above two main problems that would most closely affect a child's life in school.
1 Recommendation
Abdelhak Hammoudi
Teacher Training College El Eulma Setif
When children hear a foreign language for the first time, their brain resists and refuses the new "sound". To overcome this problem teachers have to use repetition drills. when we repeat the new sounds chidren's brains get used to them and accept them at last.
1 Recommendation
Srimani Chakravarthi
University of St. Francis
There are both advantages and disadvantages to having your education not in your primary language.
In my own personal experience of having to do this, I found the advantage & disadvantage. Learning to cope and thrive with mainstream requirements (which happened to be finding employment in an English speaking country), was the pro; while many children losing their mother tongue soon after English instruction begins, is the con. 
For students who have problems such as in language processing, speech issues, memory/retention, organization and/or learning disabilities, it would pose a problem since the struggles multiply with the second language requirements. 
1 Recommendation
Robyn Babaeff
Monash University (Australia)
The cognitive-affective seems to play a large role in challenging heritage in connection with identity.  A research participant (adult) stated she recalls at the age of six on her way to school, hitting her head whilst trying to bang the language out of her head before getting to school.  Also wishing her parents could 'understand' her school life so she didn't feel like two different people, ""it is so much more than just learning in another is so emotional" was put forward as a concluding statement
1 Recommendation
Ana Donevska-Todorova
Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
According to my research experience, and as a parent, I can say that children face difficulties when they learn mathematics in particular on a foreign language.
You can find some data about early mathematics which may be interesting for you in the following article:
1 Recommendation
Allauddin Memon Kohistani
University of Sindh
Thanks To all.....In My view points The Basic And Primary Education(The mean K.G..1 to 5th Class) Should be in Mother Language..Even Higher Education...Because As I experienced Since Last Seven Years When You don't Give Early Education  in mother language It damages the Creativity ,Efficiency and Effectiveness of   a Child learning.While those Schools who give Early Education in Mother language They are more Sharp and Creative, Efficient ,Effective Learner .....When you don't Give Early Education in Mother language The child face many problems like Stress,lack of Understanding...................
Altay Eren
Bolu Abant Izzet Baysal University
Although children learn quickly and effectively a second language during primary school period through social interactions, teachers should be aware of the fact that if learning environments do not provide relevant information in their first language their cognitive load increase, which, in turn, may make it difficult for them to miss core points in learning processes. Thus, teachers should find effective ways to lessen both extrenous and intrinsic cognitive load during the lessons in order to enable their studnets to cope with the negative effect of processing extra cognitive load. I strongly suggest that you should read literature on cognitive load theory and dual coding theory in order to find more effective ways to teach children who is not fluent in the language that teachers use to teach.   
1 Recommendation
Lensley Bani
Vanuatu Institute of Teacher Education
Confusion and more of it, especially when teachers are not first speakers of the language of instruction.
I have been a victim of this practice so to speak but did battle my way through primary with English being my third language. Colonial legacies by our former colonies led to Vanuatu's education system being conducted in both English or French apart from the widely spoken Bislama. Many unfortunate children in this very tiny Pacific island archipelago did not make it to senior secondary or even tertiary education because of this foreign language practices.
Just recently, the Vanuatu Ministry of Education and Training decided to change this around and introduce vernacular in early primary education. I am sure this will turn the clock around. However, this initiative will take time to work out since my tiny island nation has a total population of around 240,000 people already have over 110 different languages, along with the English and French, and of course Bislama.
Eduardo Gómez Garzarán
Universidad de Valladolid
Dear Allauddin Memon Kohistani,
I have been teaching curricular subjects such as social and natural sciences, and arts through English in Spain to Spanish students whose knowledge of English is very limited, starting at the age of 6.
My experience tells me that for the first three months or so, they have some difficulties since the language is basically unknown. The first thing they need is get used to the language by working with daily routines. It is also very important, if you are going to work with adapted textbooks, or authentic materials in the foreign language, to implement a systematic program to teach the students how to read and write the language to be learnt.
Some children will say that they understand NOTHING, they may get frustrated a little bit, but it is you the one who must make the first contacts of the students with these situations less difficult for them by means of friendly-sessions.
After the hard first months (hard for the students and for you!) you will see how students start to get more actively involved in the sessions, and in time you will be able to develop "normal" sessions.
As other colleagues have pointed out, you will have students with a better competence in the language that will understand you much better than the others that will act as "natural interpreters" during your sessions at the beginning. I will recommend you to rely on them, because they can be a very good asset for you. However, as time passes and once most of the students can understand you in the foreign language, I would not promote this attitude, since "translation" is not required for a proper learning of contents in a foreign language.
One last tip: if you have been a content teacher in your mother tongue before, you must bear in mind that teaching a subject in a foreign language is NOT the same as teaching it in the mother tongue: you need to use a special methodology, that integrates the teaching of both content and language, which is CLIL (it also includes other dimensions such as cognition and culture). Investigate about it, you will find it very helpful and illuminating.
I hope this helps.
1 Recommendation
Ana Donevska-Todorova
Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin
Dear Eduardo Gómez,
I agree with you that the CLIL (Content Language Integrated Learning) theories are helpful in these situations. I used exactly this theory to investigate how first-grade pupils learn counting in a foreign language-German. Therefore I posted the link to my article above.
Best wishes,
1 Recommendation
Eduardo Gómez Garzarán
Universidad de Valladolid
Dear Ana,
Thank you for your message. Your investigation sounds very interesting. I will have a look at your article, since I have always found that counting in a foreign language is very problematic.
All the best,
Jacob Kola Aina
College of Education (Technical) Lafiagi, Kwara State, Nigeria
Yes, I am in full support of education in mother language. Research studies show that most of the concepts, principles, theories in science can best be understood by pupils in primary schools if taught in mother language. You can read my articles and research paper in the following links:;;;
1 Recommendation
Anshu Saha
University of Cape Town
Dear Allauddin, 
Thank you for your question. Your question is very interesting and since I have been reading papers, which look into language transitions in instruction from primary to high school education; I see a connecting here. 
I do support teaching and learning in mother tongue, especially when one looks at primary education. Teaching and learning happens best when taught in mother tongue to leaners up until a specific age. Nevertheless, I would also like to argue that transitioning to a language instruction, which is not native, is also crucial. For primary education, conducting learning and teaching in mother tongue allows easy grasping of difficult concepts, facilitates easy comprehension of situations and tasks, and allows smooth expression of one's view. Hence, these important factors get affected when teaching is not done in mother tongue.
All the best,
2 Recommendations
Lyelle Palmer
Winona State University, Winona, Minnesota, United States 55987
If only two or three languages are present, the teacher must repeat the lesson in two or more languages, first in the native language and then in the target language sentence by sentence with a great deal of repetition.  Basics must be taught along the way in the form of directives, "Listen,"  "Wait for the signal" "Tell me…", "Say….,"  "Write…"  "Repeat…," etc.  When a student already knows both the home culture language and the target language that student can serve as an assistant in giving the content in both languages.  In general, use short sentences and both languages beginning with the familiar language followed by the target language.  Over the year shift more to the target language for directions and familiar content.
Alice Fiorentino
Université Savoie Mont Blanc
Dear Professor, I would be very interesting in the link you shared. Unfortunately it seems to have stop working. Could we find this content elsewhere?
Krisztina Zajdó
Széchenyi István University, Győr Hungary (The University of Győr)
The link does not work. Can you please share?
Thanks, Krisztina
Krisztina Zajdó
Széchenyi István University, Győr Hungary (The University of Győr)
Thanks so much. :-)
Abdelkader Mohamed Elsayed
Benha University - Dhofar University
I agree with Dr. Annick De Houwer.
Abdelkader Mohamed Elsayed
Benha University - Dhofar University
Thanks for you Dr. Allauddin Memon Kohistani .

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