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Increasing access and equity

Learning in a first language, or familiar language, is “essential for the initial teaching of reading” (Dutcher and Tucker, 1997, p. 36). Yet, an estimated 221 million school-age children speak languages not used as the primary medium of instruction in the formal school system (Walter, cited in Dutcher, 2004), creating significant obstacles for teaching and learning.

Improving educational outcomes

The language used for teaching dramatically affects children’s ability to learn. This is because children know thousands of oral vocabulary words and have considerable phonemic awareness in their mother tongue—even before they start school. If schooling takes place in a language they do not know, however, they are unable to use this knowledge and build upon it.

Second language and reading acquisition

Children arrive on the first day of school with thousands of oral vocabulary words and considerable phonemic awareness in their mother tongue, but they are unable to express, use or build upon their skills when the language of instruction is unfamiliar or foreign. Trying to teach them to read in a language they are not accustomed to hearing or speaking makes the teaching of reading much more difficult, especially in under-resourced schools and in areas where children are not exposed to an unfamiliar language of instruction.

Reduced repetition and drop-outs

When students learn in a language that is familiar to them, they also are more likely to attend school (Smits et al., 2008) and significantly less likely to repeat a grade or drop out. In one study in Mali, pass rates at the end of primary school between 1994 and 2000 for children who transitioned gradually from instruction in a local language to French were, on average, 32% higher than for students in a French-only program (Bender et al., 2005).

Socio-cultural benefits

Learning in a familiar language also confers significant socio-cultural benefits. Children are better able to express their experiences in a learning environment where they can speak their own language. Moreover, their cultural is legitimized by using a language they know in the classroom, an “unfamiliar” environment that conveys significant authority.


Educating children in a language they understand offers significant financial benefits to an education system. This is due to the increased efficiency that results when fewer students repeat and drop out—therefore decreasing costs because it takes less time and resources to educate a student.


Interesting Topics

I have to say that I am actually interested to write my essays that are more giving some encouragement and motivation to children. There are actually a lot of thing that may distract student to be focus on school matters. As a student I really love to share some of my experiences and I am hoping that it will be a big help for others.

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