The World of Multilingual Learning through ELTU
By Peris Kamau, Intern PAL Network
Ready to discover how language learning can unleash your personal expression like never before? Let’s dive in! One of the most exciting aspects of learning a new language is the ability to express ourselves in different ways. Whether we’re learning a new idiom or mastering a new grammar rule, each new skill we acquire allows us to communicate more effectively. For example, “The early bird catches the worm”; which means that being proactive and early can lead to success.
It can also help us connect with others. I once travelled to the Eastern part of Kenya, the language they spoke there was different from my own. But because we shared a similar ethnic group, I could understand some of their conversations and they were surprised by the fact that I could speak a bit of their language. They took it upon themselves to teach me a bit more on how to pronounce words in their language and it was amazing to connect with them. When we speak the same language as someone else, we are able to share our thoughts and feelings more easily. We can learn about different cultures, traditions, and ways of thinking, which can broaden our perspectives and help us become more empathetic and understanding.
When we learn in our mother tongue, our brain engages in cognitive fluency, as we effortlessly process information, grasp complex concepts, and make connections. This fluency facilitates higher-order thinking skills, critical analysis, and problem-solving abilities. Research shows that cognitive fluency in one’s native language leads to faster and more accurate comprehension, enabling individuals to navigate learning materials with ease and depth.
Learning in the mother tongue fosters a strong emotional connection to education. Students feel a sense of cultural identity and belonging, which enhances their motivation, engagement, and overall learning experience. Emotion plays a vital role in learning and memory processes. Positive emotions associated with mother tongue education contribute to increased attention, motivation, and long-term retention of knowledge.
UNESCO has been advocating for multilingual education based on the mother tongue for over 10 years, starting with a movement led by specialists in vernacular languages. Research shows that education in the mother tongue is crucial for inclusion, quality learning, and academic performance. This is especially important in primary schools to avoid knowledge gaps and improve comprehension. Multilingual education empowers all learners to fully participate in society, fosters mutual understanding, respect, and preserves cultural and traditional heritage in every language.
With ‘Every Language Teaches Us’ (ELTU), our aim is to focus on the multilingual aspect of learning. Its primary goal is to support children’s foundational learning aimed at strengthening their basic skills and knowledge (reading, creativity, critical and mathematical thinking) through locally sourced education materials in their native languages. The implementation of the ELTU project began with gathering resources in the form of Proverbs, Riddles, Songs, Tongue Twisters, Legends, Stories, Folktales, etc. from eight countries i.e., Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Mozambique, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and Mexico. These resources were grouped and uploaded to an ELTU website where every individual can access the content and learn from it or use it as a mode of teaching learners. It entails these resources from different countries with their respective original language and translations.
In conclusion, let’s reflect on the incredible journey of language learning. It’s not just about mastering grammar rules or memorizing vocabulary; it’s about discovering a whole new dimension of self-expression. Through language, we can paint vivid pictures with our words, share our stories, and connect with people from diverse backgrounds.
Language learning empowers us to bridge cultural gaps, fostering understanding and empathy. It allows us to delve into the rich tapestry of human experiences, unlocking doors to new friendships, opportunities, and personal growth.
So, let’s continue on this linguistic adventure, embracing the beauty of different languages and celebrating the unique voice that each one of us brings to the table. Let’s express ourselves boldly, passionately, and authentically through the power of words.
Remember, language learning is not just a skill; it’s a lifelong journey of self-discovery and connection. So, keep exploring, keep expressing, and let your words create ripples of impact in the world.