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Mother tongue-based multilingual education (MTB-MLE) programs benefit students who do not speak or understand the official school language when they begin their education. Learner-centered MTB-MLE programs focus on three kinds of development:


Language development  Students develop fluency and confidence in understanding, speaking, reading, writing and thinking in their first language and then transfer those abilities to the official school language(s) for communication and for life-long learning.
Academic development Students achieve the required academic competencies in each subject and, at the end of the MLE program, are equipped to move successfully into and through the mainstream education system to accomplish their educational goals.
Sociocultural development Students are proud of their heritage language and culture and respect the language and cultures of others. When they complete their education, they are equipped to contribute actively to the development of their home community and to the nation of which they are a part.

Resources organized in this basket fall within the following three main topics.

Building a strong educational foundation in the L1

Building a strong educational foundation in the L1 requires making the L1 the first language of literacy and using it as the only language of instruction in the early grades and using it with the L2 (and other required languages) for instruction to the end of primary. When their L1 is used as the language of instruction in early grades and their culture is incorporated into their learning materials and classroom activities, students are encouraged to use their own knowledge and experience as the foundation for their later learning.

Introducing oral L2

Once a strong learning environment is established in the students L1, they are ready to start learning L2 as a second language.  While the L1 is still used as the language of instruction, students should start learning oral L2.  Literacy in L2 should only come after students have developed fluency in hearing and speaking the L2.

Bridging to written L2

Bridging to written L2 builds on what the students have learned about reading and writing in their first language and their growing knowledge of oral L2. In many educational settings students will begin their formal study of core academic subjects using written materials in the L2. A guided process to acquiring literacy skills in the L2, after having built a strong educational foundation in their L1, provides a strong “bridge” to the new language, so they are equipped to use both their mother tongue (L1) and the L2 for life-long learning.

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