Mother tongue or language based instruction?


There could be a disadvantage in using the Mother tongue for instruction that is different to what is used in the text books if students are being tested in the language used in the text book. As Heiner suggested, you need to find a good balance between the two. The attached conference paper presents research on how the overuse of the Mother tongue actually contributed to students’ limited English language skills, in which they were being tested that negatively affected their overall performance in school. Social media was considered as a medium to help develop their English language skills by asking them to choose topics they would like to discuss on Facebook, and the teacher then moderated the students’ exchange for good use of the English language.

Up to the tender age of 5, children can learn languages very easily. So, we can teach them any no. of languages in parallel. But it is preferable that the method of instruction should remain same for primary school and high school whether it is mother tongue or any other language to make them think and express their thoughts better.

The disadvantages of using the mother tongue as the method of instruction among primary school children is they will be habitual to think and express their thoughts  in mother tongue. After primary school, it will be difficult for them to adopt/switch over to other language as a medium of instruction because their ability of adopting languages decreases with age.

Whether education should be in the regional language or in English is a question posed before many parents when admitting their children to schools for the first time.

Recently, the Karnataka state government passed an order asking schools to teach primary classes only.

The Supreme Court has referred the matter to a higher constitutional bench and the judgement is pending. The apex court has also asked all state governments to put forth their stance on the issue.

Studying in the mother tongue is advantageous to the child’s development. A child is able to understand concepts and subjects better and they can express themselves more fluently when taught in their mother tongue.

Parents will look down on vernacular education because going to an English-medium school has become a status symbol. They assume that a child who studies in English will automatically have a good career.

But there is a difference between studying English and studying at an English-medium school. As always pointed out, English can always be a taught as a separate subject. Learning in a regional medium does not mean that students will not be able to speak proper English.

Studying in one’s mother tongue helps students get a better understanding of the subject. There is no room for doubts and it also encourages divergent thinking.

Many parents feel that if their children study in vernacular mediums, they are at a disadvantage in various competitive exams, studying abroad and choosing careers.

Agreeing that learning languages at a young age strengthens new networks in the brain, Lina Asher, founder of Kangaroo Kids Education Limited and Billabong High International Schools, said most kids today are more comfortable speaking English than their mother-tongue.

“Most of our kids prefer speaking English since their parents also speak English at home,” she said. “Teaching in the mother tongue is not a good idea these days because people don’t always remain where they were born.

In such a situation, children might find the transition to English difficult later.”

By Herdeliza Dumayag