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Following is a list of resources related to Program Startup. Resources are organized by priority, with those of most interest to most people toward the top.

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Planning mother tongue-based education programs in minority language communities

An essential resource manual for anyone engaged in planning and implementing mother tongue-based education programs in a minority language context.

First Language First: Community-based Literacy Programmes for Minority Language Contexts in Asia

In 2004, UNESCO hosted a Regional Workshop on Mother Tongue/Bilingual Literacy Programmes for Ethnic Minorities in Kunming, China. Participants from China, India, Bangladesh, the Philippines and Thailand discussed the progress of their MTB and bilingual education pilot projects as well as lessons learned with four other Asian countries interested in starting similar pilot projects in their own context.

Improving the quality of mother tongue-based literacy and learning: case studies from Asia, Africa and South America

This resource document provides a summary of mother tongue-based education programs in Africa, Asia and South America. Countries included are: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Philippines, Thailand, Viet Nam, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Bolivia. The document further addresses common questions about mother tongue-based education, materials, instructional methods and orthography issues.

Alphabet Design Workshops in Papua New Guinea


The Alphabet Development Workshop (ADW) is "based on community interaction.  [It] relies on speakers’ perceptions of their language rather than phonological analysis, and consequently reflects the ‘sound system’ in its cultural context as viewed by the speakers of the language."

Analysis of linguistic environment and instructional implications for preschool children in Ouré Cassoni Refugee Camp in Chad

This resource provides a comprehensive report on the linguistic context of young learners in the Ouré Cassoni Refugee Camp as well as instructional implications of the status quo.

Why and how Africa should invest in African Languages and multilingual education

This document examines the arguments for several core questions about mother-tongue-based multilingual education in sub-Saharan Africa [taken from the Table of Contents]:

Issues of orthography

This chapter in "Improving the quality of mother tongue-based literacy and learning: Case studies from Asia, Africa and South America" provides an overview of key considerations in orthography development.

Language Socialization Reserach and French Language Education in Africa: A Cameroonian Case Study

Reports on exploratory ethnographic research on language acquisition and use in a village located in the Mandara Mountains, Cameroon. Indicates that members of the community share several beliefs and practices related to multilingual communicative competence and its development.



No doubt all readers of this website are agreed about using the maternal rather than a second language for elementary literacy purposes. But what about the CONTEXT for such an emphasis ?

Most literate people take for granted their daily encounters with the language in newspapers, magazines, books, including children's books, as well as such things as street signs and posters in shop-windows and so forth.

Those who would be needed to support a reorientation towards the maternal language as the primary language of children's instruction - not only teachers, but parents and others - would be more apt, it seems to me, to endorse the idea, and give it the kind of political support it would need if there was at least some such manifestations in the neighborhood.

Of course, one might argue that the effort to bring about the sheerly EDUCATIONAL change is quite sufficiently daunting, but, as Rebecca Stone shows, in her recent presentation concerning her work in Mindanao (the Philippine southern tier), she found, I gather, that the lack of such a context formed the main basis for resistance to the multilingualist changes she was pushing for.

I had the same sort of general impression on a recent short visit to the capital of Negros Oriental, Dumaguete, (part of the "middle tier") as I pointed out to her. I visited the only bookstore in town (which called itself, rather ominously, a "National" bookstore, and which seemed to specialize in school supplies). I asked an assistant to show me the section where they stocked texts in Cebuano, a language spoken, it is said, by 20 million citizens (i.e. a quarter of the Ph. population). There were none (oh, maybe a dictionary...) Nor was there a newspaper, and, as far as I could tell, a magazine, available there in the language they all spoke.

They do, in fact, on a modest level, EXIST, as I understand it, but are simply not to be found in any obvious place locally. A literate man (in Tagalog, now promoted as "national" and therefore renamed "Philipino", one of the languages of of the Northern tier) with whom I spoke, who had tried to read a book in Cebuano, his native language, told me it was too "deep", by which, I gather, he meant that the literary use of the language incorporated diction from an earlier period which he found too arcane.

I was just a casual visitor, and my take on this may be wrong. It is not backed by any research. But I think it is worth discussing. I saw no sign of such a discussion as I poked about the website.

maternal literacy


You raise a salient point in noting that there is a dearth of written material in the non-dominant languages that are the targets of MTB-MLE programs.  In fact, for many of the contexts where a non-dominant language is prevalent, there is a dearth of written material available to students in any language.

This does create an additional challenge to MTB MLE practitioners.  Once students learn to read in their own language, there is very little for them to actually read - in order to continue to build reading fluency, and to access the knowledge that reading typically offers to us.  So one of the necessary tasks in an MTB MLE program is to facilitate the creation of local literature.  You can find a short practical resource on this topic here.

Encouraging the production of locally authored materials in non-dominant languages not only provides valuable reading material for new literates, but it provides an important means of preservation and transmission of culture in contexts where local cultures and languages are increasingly under threat of extinction.

And it is widely asknowledged that learning to read and write in one's own non-dominant language is not intended to be the end of one's learning.  Most learners will want to learn to read and write in the language of wider communication, where there is a greater wealth of reading material.  And the reading and writing skills that they acquire in their own language will give them a valuable boost in making that possible.

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