Policy Dialogue 28 – 29 March 2023 | Highlights


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Every Language Teaches Us

The Every Language Teachers Us (ELTU) project, PAL Network’s multi-country applied research initiative, represented a direct response to the drastic changes and challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic brought to the education of children from minority groups around the world. Its primary goal was to support children’s remote learning and education through a foundational learning framework aimed at strengthening their basic skills and knowledge (reading, creativity, critical and mathematical thinking) through newly documented and locally sourced education materials in their native languages.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on education resonated with the existing disparities which further exacerbated challenges for vulnerable students and to continuing their education during the pandemic lockdown became difficult. Looking at how this problem unfolded, the ELTU project aimed to help disadvantaged students from indigenous groups who not only had to continue learning without the proper guidance but had to do it in a language other than their mother tongue. Accordingly, the primary goals of the ELTU project focused on:

Supporting children’s foundational learning by creating a repository of multilingual resourced that were mapped to children’s indigenous languages,

Developing a freely accessible database of indigenous teaching-learning materials in children’s mother tongues,
Contributing to language revitalization by working with some marginalized linguistic communities to promote their learning content, and
Enhancing citizen agency, especially teachers ‘agency in supporting learning.

To achieve ELTU’s main goals, the project was implemented in three stages:

Phase 1

Phase 2

Phase 2

Scope of the ELTU project

The project was implemented in 8 countries across Asia, Africa, and North America: India, Nepal, Pakistan, Kenya, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Mexico, documenting resources in 36 languages across 30 districts/regions.

The following graph shows the number of languages per country in the ELTU project.

Selection of Materials for the Project
The ELTU project focused on six main genres that could be easily adapted for teaching purposes. The genres and the learning outcome that can be expected from them are as follows:



Tongue twisters



Weight and distance measurements

Riddles are essential to developing inferential comprehension and increasing vocabulary and verbal and cognitive skills in early infant language acquisition.
Help to understand moral values, classifications, and norms that act as practical guides for appropriate cultural communicative behaviour, such as language etiquette. Allow previous linking knowledge with new information
Develop fluency, and allows to identify characteristic meaningful identity sounds, to increase and even conning vocabulary  Also, favour elevating fluency proficiencies in early infant acquisition 
Allow cultural and linguistic reproduction, increasing oral and writing skills.

Favour acquiring lyrics and poetic genres using metaphor and rhythm, prosodic and kinetic patterns, favouring language fluency and memory in any language.

Facilitate aggregation and disaggregation processes for learning arithmetic operations

At the end of the data collection phase, it was found that songs, legends and riddles were most common genres that were found among all the languages. In addition to the primary genres, over 300 other resources were collected, showcasing greetings, days of the month, seasons and names of plants and animals.

Development and use of Teaching Learning Resources
After the collection of resources, they were sorted and translated into a state or national language. The selected resources were then used to create contextually and culturally relevant teaching and learning materials that could be used in learning camps. Each country devised different ways of using the language data collected based on their current programmes. In Pakistan, Mexico, and Kenya the team developed detailed techniques on how to use different genres to enhance children’s learning to be used in Learning Camps. The team from Nepal worked on making print materials from the collected languages. In the learning camps in Pakistan Saraiki, Wakhi, Khowar and Dhatki language resources were included. The survey done at the conclusion of the camps showed an overwhelmingly positive response to the ELTU resources as seen in the following infographic:
Creating an open repository for collected materials
Part of the project aim is to create an open repository of the collected resources. All collected resources were saved in a database that can be accessed by the participating member countries. A selected number of resources shall further be shared online through a microsite that is currently under development.