There are many different terms used in education to describe students who learn a foreign language before entering school in a host country. Similarly, the language children learn at home from their parents is also often described in many different ways. At MIS, we describe it as the child’s “mother tongue” or “home language.”
Last year, to support our school’s vision pillar Celebrate Diversity, we commenced an innovative and brand-new course in the Middle Years Programme called “Mother Tongue Language and Literature”. In this course, we design and deliver a unique experimental curriculum where mother-tongue learning is placed at the centre of the learning process. English serves as a common language of interaction and instruction, but the students are able to develop their abilities in their specific mother tongues by continuing their individual studies within this larger-group environment. I am proud to say that we are currently delivering high-quality German, French, Czech, and Spanish lessons, and plan to add more languages soon!
As teachers, we seek to confirm all our students’ identities by fostering this learning of home languages. We are joined by numerous language experts to help assess students’ work fairly and to best identify the areas of linguistic improvement required. Even though this program has only existed for a little over a year, we can already observe significant benefits of multilingual classroom teaching and learning. Students are displaying consistent cognitive and intellectual growth in both first language and English level development.
This multilingual mother-tongue language course emphasizes a balanced study of genres and literary texts, including a world literature component. This term, we are focusing on “Mysteries in Literature” with MYP 1 and 2 classes by reading Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile in five different languages. We are exploring a literary classic, The Divine Comedy by Dante in MYP 3 and 4. Finally, we are exploring the tragic circumstances of indecision and hesitant actions in Shakespeare’s Hamlet with MYP 5.
MYP Language and Literature course equip students with linguistic, analytical, and communicative skills that help develop interdisciplinary understanding. Students develop skills in six domains: listening, speaking, reading, writing, and presenting independently and with others. Through their studies, students learn how to form opinions, make decisions, and broaden their worldviews and reflective mindset. We achieve all of this in our class, with the added benefit of being able to do it in many languages, sharing our individual experiences through the commonality of the literary experience.
Ms. Anastasiya Kharytonova