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Language for Itself – and In and For Development Sheldon Shaeffer Cagayan de Oro, Philippines March 18, 2010 PowerPoint Presentation
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Language for Itself – and In and For Development Sheldon Shaeffer Cagayan de Oro, Philippines March 18, 2010. Linguistic Diversity in Asia. Country Languages Uzbekistan 39 Tajikistan 33 Kyrgyzstan 32 Bhutan 35 Singapore 31 Turkmenistan 27 Cambodia 25

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slide1
Language for Itself – and In

and For Development

Sheldon Shaeffer

Cagayan de Oro, Philippines

March 18, 2010

linguistic diversity in asia
Linguistic Diversity in Asia

Country Languages

  • Uzbekistan 39
  • Tajikistan 33
  • Kyrgyzstan 32
  • Bhutan 35
  • Singapore 31
  • Turkmenistan 27
  • Cambodia 25
  • Timor Leste 19
  • Brunei 17
  • Japan 16
  • Mongolia 15
  • Sri Lanka 7
  • Korea, South 4
  • Maldives 2
  • Korea, North 1

TOTAL: ~ 3572

(Source: Ethnologue 2009)

Country Languages

  • P.New Guinea 830
  • Indonesia 722
  • India 445
  • China 296
  • Philippines 181
  • Malaysia 145
  • Nepal 127
  • Myanmar 116
  • Vietnam 108
  • Lao PDR 89
  • Thailand 85
  • Pakistan 77
  • Iran 79
  • Afghanistan 52
  • Bangladesh 46
  • Kazakhstan 43

(30 countries)

number of languages spoken in asia
Number of Languages spoken in Asia
  • Of the world’s more than 6000 languages, 50% are “dying”, 40% are endangered, and only 10% are “safe”.
  • 96% of these languages are spoken by only 4%of the world’s population.
  • Most of the endangered languages are spoken by ethnic minorities.
  • If nothing is done, these languages and their cultures will likely die.
why languages cannot be allowed to die
Why languages cannot be allowed to die…
  • When a language dies -- we lose a piece of knowledge, of human thought, and of world-view – and it cannot be replaced.
  • Languages in danger must be revitalised and further developed because:
    • they are needed to maintain cultural and linguistic diversity for a sustainable future
    • they express identity, “hold” history, and transmit culture
    • they contribute to the sum of human and cultural knowledge
    • they are essential for human and social development – and for the fulfillment of human rights
what do we know 1
What do we know? (1)
  • A language can survive and thrive only if it has a strong presence in the education system.
  • But most education systems are inappropriate for, or even hostile to, indigenous and minority groups and their languages.
  • Large numbers of learners are forced to learn in a language (official or international) that is different from the language they speak at home.
what do we know 2
What do we know? (2)
  • People only learn to “read” once.
  • It is therefore essential – both to keep cultures and their languages strong and intact and to increase school success – that early education and initial literacy be provided in the learner’s first language or mother tongue – which then makes it easier to master national and international languages.
what do we know 3
What do we know? (3)
  • Learners must begin school from where they “are” – in their home language -- and NOT in a language they do not know.
  • It is very difficult to teach people to read and write in a language they don’t understand.
  • The starting point of learning how to read and write is the language of the learner – beginning with the known and moving progressively to the unknown.
  • Skills in the first language of literacy should be consolidated before the second is mastered - preferably during at least three years of study.
what do we know 4
What do we know? (4)
  • A strategy of multilingualism beginning with mother-tongue mastery produces better learning outcomes and higher rates of internal efficiency – higher enrolment, less repetition, lower drop-out rates, higher achievement.
  • Education for All can only be achieved with a strategy of mother tongue-based multilingual education – without it, too many children will not enter school, will fail, and will drop out – or be pushed out -- of the education system.
what do we know 5
What do we know? (5)
  • Using mother tongue also:
    • builds initiative and participation in learning
    • stimulates the production of materials in home languages
    • inserts local knowledge into the classroom
    • facilitates integration into broader social, cultural, and economic contexts
    • contributes to the individual and collective development of often excluded people
    • can improve relations between political leaders and the multilingual population of a country
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Learners whose mother tongue is the language of instruction and literacy in education.

Learners who do not speak the standard school language used when they enter school

the development of mle in asia
The development of MLE in Asia
  • Slowly, over time, MLE based on mother-tongue is making progress in Asia.
  • Supportive Ministry of Education policies exist in Cambodia, Singapore, China, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Afghanistan, New Zealand, Australia, and – especially! -- the Philippines.
  • Many private systems use the approach in Myanmar.
  • Ministries in Malaysia, Indonesia, Timor Leste, Central Asia, and the Pacific are showing greater willingness to experiment with MLE.
  • And a new national language policy in Thailand supports minority languages in education.
problems and solutions 1
Problems and solutions (1)
  • The lack of orthographies and alphabets
    • BUT new alphabets can be developed, at relatively low cost, often using the script of the national language
  • The cost and expertise to create instructional materials and to recruit and train teachers from, or in, minority languages
    • BUT materials and texts can be produced locally and cheaply, especially for the early grades, using teachers and community members as resources
    • AND teacher trainees from linguistic minorities can be found and trained
problems and solutions 2
Problems and solutions (2)
  • The so-called “underdevelopment” of some languages and their inability to express complicated ideas and concepts
    • BUT most can express the ideas and concepts needed for gaining initial literacy – and languages, too, can grow!
  • Indifference and even opposition from within minority communities themselves
    • BUT they can be convinced that:
      • oral use of a mother tongue is not the same as – or as good as -- literacy
      • mother tongue literacy can lead to greater mastery of the national language
problems and solutions 3
Problems and solutions (3)
  • Indifference – even active opposition – from dominant political and economic groups -- the fear of divisiveness and conflict and the overriding goal of national unity
    • BUT recognising and valuing linguistic and cultural diversity can reduce inter-cultural strife and make excluded groups feel more loyal toward the state
    • AND gaining initial literacy in mother tongue can lead to greater mastery of the national language and greater contributions by linguistic/cultural minorities to the social and economic development of the nation
language and development
Language and development

Languages and the cultures that go with them are:

  • important in themselves
  • essential in the immediate development process – to ensure that development programmes are appropriate for, and “owned” by, indigenous, excluded communities
  • necessary for longer-term development by guaranteeing that cultural and linguistic diversity are part of our sustainable future

“Food cooked in borrowed pots never kills hunger”

Sozinho Francisco Matsinhe, Mozambique

so what to do internationally
So what to do? Internationally…

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (Article 14) – states that:

“indigenous individuals, especially children, have the right to all levels and forms of education of the State, without discrimination...where possible...in their own culture and provided in their own language”

slide18
The Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity recognizes a strong relationship among biodiversity, cultural diversity, and linguistic diversity. UNESCO’s action plan for this Declaration recommends:
  • sustaining the world’s linguistic diversity and supporting the expression and dissemination of the greatest possible number of languages
  • encouraging linguistic diversity at all levels of education
  • incorporating traditional pedagogies into the education process
slide19
recruiting and training teachers familiar with the life of their people and able to teach in their mother tongue
  • supporting bilingual and / or multilingual education at all levels as a means of promoting both social and gender equality and as a key element of linguistically diverse societies
  • respecting the educational rights of minorities and indigenous peoples
  • using mother tongue education to raise awareness of the positive value of cultural and linguistic diversity
nationally and locally
Nationally and locally
  • create networks of researchers, practitioners, NGOs, government officials, and politicians
  • legislate to ensure mother tongue-based MLE
  • advocate at all levels, from politicians and policy-makers to community leaders and parents
  • collect evidence of the impact of MLE on academic, social, economic, and cultural outcomes
  • develop orthographies and support MLE-based school curricula and texts and popular literature
  • adopt affirmative action for recruiting and educating teachers from ethnic minorities
desired outcomes of this conference 1
Desired outcomes of this conference (1)

To understand and appreciate that:

  • diversity is a treasure -- not an obstacle to, but rather essential for, development
  • diversity is preserved by the spread of literacy both in indigenous and minority languages and in the national language
  • literacy in the home language is an effective and efficient approach to learning to read and write in the national language
  • literacy in both indigenous languages and the national language will have an integrative effect on society -- economically, socially, politically, culturally -- not a disintegrative effect
desired outcomes of this conference 2
Desired outcomes of this conference (2)

To understand and appreciate that:

  • through greater integration, excluded indigenous communities can contribute more to economic and social development
  • local communities need to have a significant influence on the governance of their education programmes and the determination of the

content and methods of instruction

  • language development and revitalisation are useful entry points for broader-based development and essential for the full realisation of the Education for All targets and the Millennium Development Goals
advocacy kit for promoting mle
Advocacy Kit for Promoting MLE
  • To facilitate awareness raising on the value of mother tongue-based multilingual education
  • To understand how to overcome the major obstacles and objections to MLE
  • To encourage readers to think about the importance of mother tongue-based multilingual education issues and to investigate them further