Voice, Visibility, Vision Hearing all children’s voices: The potential of mother-tongue based multilingual preschool to advance Education for All. Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD. School of Child and Youth Care University of Victoria, Canada Global Summit on Childhood Vancouver, April 12, 2014. - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
Text of Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD. School of Child and Youth Care University of Victoria, Canada
Jessica Ball, MPH, PhD.School of Child and Youth CareUniversity of Victoria, Canada
Global Summit on ChildhoodVancouver, April 12, 2014
Tsleil-Waututh NationCoast Salish Peoples
During the years I spent kayaking along the coast of British Columbia and Southeast Alaska, I observed that the local raven populations spoke in distinct dialects. Ravens from Kwakiutl, Tsimshian, Haida, and Tlingit territory sounded different from one another, especially in their characteristics ‘tok’ and ‘tlik.’ (Dyson, 2006, 136).
Italian is like talking to a bird.
Swedish is like the bird talking. Mark
Language and being
English has more NOUNS than most languages.Nouns refer to concrete entitiesOjibwe is 80% verbsVerbs refer to the relations among entities
Hopi tribes of Central America speak of time as perpetually occurring, and therefore have no words referring to chronology.
The language a child learns from their ‘first teachers’ shapes the way the child experiences the world and themselves in it.
Voice, Visibility, VisionHear all children’s voices in the languages
they bring with them to early education
Increase the visibility of minoritized and marginalized children
Promote a vision for sustaining the rich repositories of cultural knowledge and languages that remain in the world today.
“The protection and promotion of mother languages are keys to global citizenship and authentic mutual understanding. Recognizing local languages enables more people to make their voices heard and take an active part in their collective fate.”
Irina Bokova, UNESCO
Languages: Connecting hearts and minds
“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.”
What are we talking about?Mother tongue: The first language(s) acquired at home that has become the child’s natural instrument of thought and communication (UNESCO)
The words to say it...
Mother tongue: A gendered termHome language: But also for schoolHeritage language: Ancestral First language (L1)
Mother-tongue based (MTB)Multi-lingual education (MLE)Bilingual Education (BE)
MTB-MLE or MTB-BE
What? Mother tongue based Multilingual education (MTB-MLE)
MTB-MLE is the practice of relying primarily on
learners’mother tongue, and the culturally based
experiences, knowledges, and literacies that the
mother tongue expresses, as a foundation for learning,
with some introduction of L2 in part of the curriculum,
often as a formal subject of study .
“First Language First” (UNESCO, 2005)
What’s the problem?Language politics
Some children’s mother tongue is privileged in early education.
Other children’s mother tongue is dismissed, denied, or given only token support.
Research supporting children’s capacity to learn multiple languages does not inform policy in most countries, or training programs for early childhood educators.
Early education for assimilationThe dominant language in a society is typically
presented (and advertised) to children and parents as Normative Desired High status Required for success in school
The manufacture of marginalization
53 million children not enrolled in schoolMany millions failing early in schoolMost are Indigenous children and
ethnolinguistic minority girls
Languages used and taught in early education often contribute to the manufacture of minoritization of children whose language is not the privileged language.
Closing doors through language in education policyTo minority language childrenTo minority language parentsTo parents who want their children to become bi-
multilingualTo the hope of a vibrant, multilingual society with
rich culturally-based knowledge repositories embodied in language.
Having to transition to a foreign language in
formal schooling is a door closer for some, and a reason for low engagement and achievement for many.
Subtractive educationNon-dominant languages are becoming
endangered and extinct.By 2100 at least 50% of the world’s 7000
languages will be gone.Children arrive at our programs with a precious
resource: their home language.Many early education systems neglect or
deliberately stamp out this capacity. Some even encourage parents to use the language of instruction at home so that children can be more ‘school ready.’
Your way is more powerful than mine . . .
International Mother Language DayFebruary 21
Growing in significanceBangladesh: 1950-1971 Language MartyrsMother Language Lovers of the World, Surrey BCAdvocating the right of ethnolinguistic minority
and Indigenous children in Canada to learn their mother tongue as a funded, elective subject of study in schools in BC. – a right that Canada has been all too sluggish in honouring
In Canada . . .
37 % of children speak French or English at home despite neither parent having a dominant mother tongue(Stats Canada, 2011)
I lost my talk . . . . .
Colonial language policies
From 450 Indigenous languages belonging to 11 language families1
To 60 Indigenous languages2
By 2100, projected 3 surviving Indigenous languages:Inuktitut, Anishnaabe and Nihayaw (Cree)English and French declared as the two ‘founding’
languages in CanadaEnglish and French are Languages of Instruction
1 Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages (1992)2 Statistics Canada (2008)
Why does this matter?Various frameworks, including child rights
Language matters to Millenium Development GoalsPromote gender equality and empower womenEradicate poverty and hungerReduce child mortality and improve maternal healthCombat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other diseasesEnsure sustainable developmentFoster global partnerships for developmentAchieve universal primary education
Sandy Barron, Why language matters for MDGs, for the Multilingual Education Working Group based at UNESCO Bangkok (2012)
Cultural curriculum without language?
Language and culture: cultural sensitivity cultural safety culturally based curriculum cultural traditions cultural resource people cultural literacy
Language is the vehicle that carries culture.Language expresses who we are as a People and as
“Once our language is gone – that’s it: No more Indians!”
We’re taught that our language comes from the Creator and that speaking it acknowledges our connection. We’re taught that our voices is a sacred gift and that there is a lot of power in our words. When we speak, our words go around the world forever.
Early childhood education for ‘school readiness’
Getting children ready for schoolsor
Getting schools ready for children?
Many early learning assessment tools assume that a child is learning only one language and is SUPPOSED to be learning the language of instruction.
Everyone else is seen as working against a handicap.Standardized assessment tools in the dominant language often
‘prove’ that language minority children are delayed and even have language or learning disorders.
Burman, E. (20008). Deconstructing developmental psychology (2nd Ed). New York: Routledge.
Proof of conceptChildren’s first language is the most effective language of
learning.Learning in one’s home languages improves engagement in school
and learner self-efficacyYoung children can learn more than one language.Bilingual learning does not ‘take up more space’ in a child’s brain.Bi/multilingual learning produces cognitive benefits
And metalinguistic skills that make it easier for older children to learn subsequent languages
The science is unequivocal: those who refuse to believe it are simply burying their heads in the sand.
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power and pedagogy. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Impossibilizing arguments about why MTB-MLE won’t work.
Research shows that MTB-MLE promotes rather than detracts from: National unity and security Learner engagement and success Ethnolinguistic minority parents’ support for education Dominant language parents’ support IF parents are given accurate
information about benefits to their child’s innate multilingual capacity, cognitive development, and future prospects
“Local languages are perfectly capable of transmitting the most modern scientific knowledge in mathematics, physics, technology and so on.”
Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director General
Lo Bianco, J. (2013). Language planning and student experiences: Intention, rhetoric and implementation. Multilingual Matters.
Quality matters: Practitioner Readiness
Fully trained early educators including skills that support practice with linguistically diverse groups of children Implications for providing practitioners with training
and mentoring in MTB-MLE
University of Victoria: First fully-career laddered Indigenous Language Revitalization Practitioner Development Stream: Certificate, Diploma, BA, MA
Quality of interactionsOpportunities to interact with fully proficient
speakers and writers of a language is a key ingredient Implications for who is recruited...to work with which
communities Implications for involvement of language proficient
Quality resource materials
Learning materials need to provide opportunities to interact with the language Implications for resource development and
purchasing, especially literacy materials.
Early is good
Early childhood education in the mother tongue:
Promotes children’s positive identity as learnersOpens doors to involvement of parents and
grandparentsBegins to establish literacy in the mother tongueReinforces positive cultural identity, which in
turn promotes wellness
Successful examples of MTB Early EducationEverywhere that children speak the dominant language and
the dominant language is the language of instruction!
Language revitalization efforts through immersion preschools:
Papua New GuineaIrelandIsraelIndonesiaIndiaMany First Nations in Canada
Language nests – inspiration from Te Kohanga Reo in Aotearoa/New Zealand
Continuity is critical to optimize potential Gold standard: Continuity with the mother tongue as the
primary language of instruction throughout primary school, until children can read to learn
Introduce additional languages as subjects of study until children are fully proficient (literate) in their first language.
Children can readily transition to a second (or third) language as the medium of instruction after they are fully literate in their first language (e.g., in secondary school)
Cummins, J. (2000). Language, power and pedagogy. Clevedon, UK: Multilingual Matters.
Now you’re talking!Promising practices
French immersion programs, CanadaEskasoni First Nation, CanadaFirst Language First, Papua New GuineaPunana Leo, HawaiiTe Kohanga Reo, Aotearoa/NZMany others....