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🎉Happy International Mother Language Day!🎊

UNESCO launched International Mother Language Day on February 21st in 2000 to commemorate and support the various mother languages ​​around the world and to promote the importance of protecting and promoting these mother languages.

🧐Why do language mothers always emphasize the importance of mother tongue? As a matter of fact, for immigrant families like us who have moved to non-Chinese-speaking countries, the use of mother tongue is becoming less and less common. Is mother tongue still so important?

💬Many Hong Kong parents who have immigrated have given up using Cantonese to communicate with their children because they want their children to integrate into the English-speaking environment as soon as possible. 📜A large number of language studies have confirmed that without a good foundation in mother tongue from 0️⃣ to 3️⃣ years old, it not only creates barriers to learning other languages ​​in the future, but more importantly, it can affect children's metacognitive skills. If you are still unclear about the importance of mother tongue, please take a little time to read the following story:

// "A 4-Year-Old Boy Without a Mother Tongue"

In the kindergarten where I taught in Nuremberg, Germany 🇩🇪, there was a 4-year-old boy who was a pitiful example. His father was German 🇩🇪, and his mother was from Vietnam 🇻🇳. The couple communicated in English 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿. Before coming to our kindergarten, the child had lived in China 🇨🇳 for over a year, and his father often traveled for work, sometimes not being at home for several weeks. Because he was so young and had to learn four different languages, the child didn't start speaking until he was almost three years old. His mother, who spent most of her time taking care of him, began to worry, so she chose to give up her "least useful" language - her mother tongue of Vietnamese.

Since then, the mother only spoke to her child in English, and her English was not particularly proficient. Their communication was limited to simple everyday questions and answers. With a limited vocabulary, when faced with many different objects in their daily lives, the mother didn't know the correct English names and could only use "this" instead. Although communication was not a problem, the child did not learn the correct names of objects from her and therefore had a limited vocabulary.

The lack of a shared mother tongue between the child and his mother became an obstacle to his language development. The mother realized this and considered starting over by using her most familiar mother tongue to communicate with her child. However, language experts say that learning a mother tongue again at the age of four is too late, and the child cannot learn a language in the same way as a baby. This means that the child will not have his own mother tongue.

"Mother Tongue - The Key to Children's Social Development"

Although the child was intelligent and could understand the English and German spoken by the teachers, he had trouble speaking clearly. When he first arrived at kindergarten, he often used single words to express himself. After a few months, he slowly progressed and began to form sentences, but he still had difficulty speaking clearly.

Now that he spends eight hours a day in kindergarten, he has a relatively stable language environment, and German is slowly becoming his first language. However, when playing with other children, he cannot express himself clearly and can only be a listener or follower in group activities. When he encounters something unpleasant, he also appears angry and frustrated because he cannot express his dissatisfaction clearly 😔.//

Language 🗣️ and thought 🧠 are two interdependent systems, and the lack or incompleteness of a mother tongue directly affects self-awareness, thinking logic, social skills, and more. Giving up one's mother tongue in order to learn English well is really putting the cart before the horse and doing more harm than good!

Original Passage:

Photo credit: Freepik

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