The Power of Language

At ISBerne, we find that children who come to school with a strong foundation in their mother tongue (their fist language or home language) develop stronger literacy abilities in the language used at school. When parents or caregivers spend time with their children, telling stories or discussing issues with them, it helps develop the child’s mother tongue vocabulary and concepts. As a result, children come to school better prepared to learn the language of their host school and succeed academically.

It is important to remember that a child connects with his/her parents, family, culture, history, identity and religion through his/her mother tongue. The first language links the child with the culture and society of his/her origins and plays and important role in shaping his/her identity.The mother tongue is one of the most powerful tools used to preserve and convey cultural ties.

Many children of immigrant families, who don’t know their native language well, often face a crisis of identity. Children who are unaware of their culture, their language, and their history can lose confidence in themselves, their family, even their homeland, and will ultimately seek an alternate identity. A child will identify with the language and culture s/he knows best.

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 10.24.23 AMOn Saturday 21 February, the United Nations invites the world to celebrate the connection of language and culture through International Mother Tongue Day. I invite you to reflect upon the value of language, not just in learning it, but how it enriches your cultural background and the story of who you are. A very interesting presentation by Wade Davis in a TED Talk, exemplifies and elaborates upon this concept in a profound way.

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