Is education in mother-tongue really essential?

In a nutshell, it is said that mother-tongue is a divine benediction that enables a human to express his feelings, thoughts and emotions without any restriction.

Mother-Tongue Instruction

One of the most beautiful and precious blessings for any human is their language. And the most loved language by any human on earth is their mother-tongue. Since a child has incessant exposure to their mother-tongue, it is said to be the best and easiest means of instruction, teaching and learning. Pakistan also needs to remodel its education system by emphasizing on instruction in the mother-tongue.
Although English is used as a medium of instruction in colleges and universities, the mother-tongue should be the medium of instruction in schools because it facilitates students in content comprehension, improves the interaction between teachers and students, and helps teachers deliver properly.

Instruction in the mother-tongue pays dividends

First and foremost, mother-tongue based instruction makes it easy for students to comprehend the content of various disciplines. Various research studies conducted in non-English countries suggest that mother-tongue based education builds conceptual understanding among learners not only at a faster pace but also in a much easier way.

In fact, when a concept is taught to students in their mother tongue, they don’t have to be re-taught when they transfer to a second language.

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This is also supported by the evidence that students face problems of focusing on content and understanding English simultaneously. And mother-tongue based education removes this language barrier making the learning of conceptual subjects easy and long-lasting.

Moreover, the mother-tongue based education improves the quality and frequency of teacher-student interaction. A student is more likely to interact with the teacher he/she feels at ease during communication.

 

Although feeling uneasy during communication might be attributed to various social and cultural factors, language difference is one of the key factors in this regard. Since the majority of students are unable to communicate with their teachers in a foreign language, they do not receive proper feedback from their teachers which hinders their improvement in that subject.

English only becomes important at the higher education stage

Proponents of English medium instruction at all levels of education in Pakistan argue that students have to study all disciplines in English in colleges and universities. Therefore, they should be made to study all subjects in English from an early age.

However, it must be kept in view that the majority of the teachers, whether in primary schools or universities, are neither fluent in English nor do they have any exposure to training for teaching through English. Realizing this fact and complying with a survey conducted in 22 districts of Punjab, the incumbent Punjab government decided to shift the medium of instruction at government primary schools from English to Urdu by March 2020.

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If we look around for examples of countries that have their native language(s) as a medium of instruction, we come across two Asian countries such as China and Japan that have their native languages as the medium of instruction in schools. Likewise, primary education in Germany is given in the German language.

This is why these countries are not only technologically developed but also morally exemplary because ‘weakness in the mother tongue means paralysis of all thought and power of expression’.

In a nutshell, it is said that mother-tongue is a divine benediction that enables a human to express his feelings, thoughts and emotions without any restriction.

Therefore, despite having English as the medium of instruction in colleges and universities, mother-tongue should be the medium of instruction in primary schools across Pakistan as it helps learners in proper comprehension of content, interaction with teachers and building a language repertoire for the acquisition of other languages.

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The writer is a lecturer in English at Sukkur IBA University. He is currently pursuing his MPhil in Education and doing his research on the topic of Challenges for Students in EMI classrooms. The writer can be reached at kamran.akhtar@iba-suk.edu.pk. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.

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