International Mother Language Day
International Mother Language Day (IMLD) is celebrated by UNESCO on February 21, 2017. It is based on the theme, Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education.
Access to education in mother tongue and in other languages is significant for achieving sustainable development. The mastery of the mother tongue help us acquire the basic skills of reading, writing and numeracy. Local languages transmit cultures, values and traditional knowledge and thus make development sustainable.
What is multilingual education?
- Multilingual education facilitates uniform access to education by ensuring equity for the disadvantages and marginalized sections of the society
- The emphasis is on the quality of learning by focusing on creative thinking
- It reinforces the cognitive aspect of learning by ensuring the direct application of learning outcomes to the learner’s life through the mother tongue
- It focused on enhanced interaction between the learner and the teacher
- It aims to make society more participative and inclusive to ensure a harmonious interaction
Reasons why regional languages are losing significance:
- One of the prominent reason is rise of English medium schools. The general perception is unless you know English you have no future.
- Medium of instruction plays a significant role in developing the thinking and questioning power of students. This depends on the language that children are familiar with and in which they can think.
- Imposing an unfamiliar language on children amounts to killing their intellectual capacity
- In western countries, such as France and Germany it is necessary for a student to clear certain levels of their mother tongue. In contrast, in our country we have an option not to study our mother tongue but instead take up a foreign language.
- Thus, our education system is destroying our mother languages and we need to seriously rethink about our language policy.
Impact on culture:
There is a significant rise in use of diluted and diversified vocabulary in all forms of communications. This had a long-term impact on local languages which is evident in our inability to speak one language perfectly.
The lack of ability to understand one language in contemporary society is also reflected in multilingual movies and songs. The dominance of such content can be attributed to its connect with the audience.
Ways to preserve and protect our local languages and traditions:
- Protection of mother tongue is significant to retain traditional cultural values
- Some of the best literary works were written by authors in their mother tongue as they even think in that language
- Technology has helped overcome the lack of learning opportunities in local languages. This is visible in the increased proliferation of online applications and websites in these languages
- There is an urgent need to reform our language policy, to assign greater significance to learning in our mother tongue