#MotherTongueDay celebrates cultural and linguistic diversity to build toward sustainable societies. At the @MultilingFamLab, we are committed to supporting the mother tongue(s), or first language(s) of multilingual families. Around the world, about 40% of children do not have access to an education in a language they speak or understand. Early education in the mother tongue is especially important to avoid knowledge gaps – it provides children with a more equitable start to their education.
Our work with multilingual families in Canada has highlighted that while many parents are strongly invested in their child’s education, they encounter challenges directly supporting their child because of language barriers between home and school (e.g., MacLeod, Meziane & Pesco, 2020). For the past 5 years, we have developed and implemented dual-language groups that focus on the home languages and introduce the language that will be used in school. Creating a space outside the home for the mother tongue signals that this language is valuable. By using the mother tongue in a group setting parents are empowered as language experts and included in the activities. Through these groups, we can also counter the belief that maintaining your mother tongue can interfere with learning the language used at school.
Your mother tongue is a powerful connection to your family, culture, and community. Supporting families in maintaining this connection is essential as we build toward a sustainable Canada.