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Home/First language(s) or Mother Tongue Education

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Home/First language(s) or Mother Tongue Education: It is clear that through their innate language faculty and interaction with the family...

Home/First language(s) or Mother Tongue Education:

It is clear that through their innate language faculty and interaction with the family and other people around them, children come to school with full-blown communicative competence in their language, or, in many cases, languages. They enter the school not only with thousands of words but also with a full control of the rules that govern the complex and rich structure of language at the level of sounds, words, sentences and discourse. A child knows not only how to understand and speak correctly but also appropriately in her language(s). She can modulate her behaviour in terms of person, place and topic. She obviously has the cognitive abilities to abstract extremely complex systems of language-from the flux of sounds. Honing these skills by progressively fostering advanced-level communicative and cognitive abilities in the classroom is the goal of first-language(s) education. From Class III onwards, oracy and literacy will be tools for learning and for developing higher-order communicative skills and critical thinking. At the primary stage, child's languages must be accepted as they are, with no attempt to correct them. By Class IV, if rich and interesting exposure is made available, the child will herself acquire the standard variety and the rules of correct orthography, but care must be taken to honour and respect the child's home language(s)/mother tongue(s). It should be accepted that errors are a necessary part of the process of learning, and that children will correct themselves only when they are ready to do so. Instead of focusing attention on errors and 'hard spots', it would be much better to spend time providing children comprehensible, interesting and challenging inputs.

It is indeed hard to exaggerate the importance of teaching home languages at school. Though children come equipped with basic interpersonal communicative skills, they need to acquire at school cognitively advanced levels of language proficiency. Basic language skills are adequate for meeting situations that are contextually rich and cognitively undemanding such as peer-group interaction; advanced-level skills are required in situations that are contextually poor and cognitively demanding such as writing an essay on an abstract issue. It is also now well established that higher-level proficiency skills easily transfer from one language to another. It is thus imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen the sustained learning of Indian languages at school.

Language education is not confined to the language classroom. A science, social science or mathematics class is ipso facto a language class. Learning the subject means learning the terminology, understanding the concepts, and being able to discuss and write about them critically. For some topics, students should be encouraged to consult books or talk to people in different languages, or gather material in English from the Internet. Such a policy of languages across the curriculum will foster a genuine multilingualism in the school. At the same time, the language class offers some unique opportunities. Stories, poems, songs and drama link children to their cultural heritage, and also give them an opportunity to understand their own experiences and to develop sensitivity to others. We may also point out that children may effortlessly abstract more grammar from such activities than through explicit and often boring grammar lessons.

While many of the differently abled learners may pick up basic language skills through normal social interactions, they could additionally be provided with especially designed materials that would assist and enhance their growth and development. Studying sign language and Braille could be included as options for learners without disabilities 
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CLEAR CTET: Home/First language(s) or Mother Tongue Education
Home/First language(s) or Mother Tongue Education
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