Thematic Studies

Indigenous Language and Education

The body of research that shows that young children learn best first in their mother tongue is indisputable. Yet, across the globe, education systems pay no, or little, heed to this fact. Children fail to learn in the early grades, not because they cannot learn, but because they have difficulty learning in a foreign language.

Indigenous Language and Education

Furthermore, many teachers lack of familiarity with the language of instruction is, in many cases, an additional factor in poor learning outcomes.

In addition, a quality education is about more than pure academics. It is about contributing to the foundation of citizenship. It is about enabling individuals to live lives of dignity and to contribute to their lives and those of their families, communities, and nations—their societies and cultures. A quality education contributes to identity and to the ability to make good decisions. As such, language is a key element in this aspect of building lives and nations.

This paper uses this over-arching framework to summarize what is known about the linkages between indigenous languages and education. It presents a range of approaches that are being implemented worldwide to take advantage of this body of research in an attempt to provide alternatives to those who are facing the challenge of teaching and learning in environments where more than one language is present.

Mary Joy Pigozzi, PhD
Director, EAC

Publication Date: 
November 04, 2014