Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning

Celebrating International Mother Language Day- 21st February – Embracing Linguistic and Cultural Diversity in Early Childhood Education

‘Languages, with their complex implications for identity, communication, social integration, education and development, are of strategic importance for people and planet. Yet, due to globalization processes, they are increasingly under threat, or disappearing altogether. When languages fade, so does the world’s rich tapestry of cultural diversity. Opportunities, traditions, memory, unique modes of thinking and expression — valuable resources for ensuring a better future — are also lost’.(United Nations-

In the vibrant tapestry of early childhood education and care, linguistic and cultural diversity stand as invaluable. The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) Version 2.0 embraces the profound significance of welcoming and celebrating these diversities.

Multilingual education – a pillar of learning and intergenerational learning

Concepts are learned best through the language a child acquires early in life. Linguistic diversity fosters an environment where children learn to appreciate the beauty of different languages. Exposure to multiple languages not only enhances cognitive development but also promotes inclusivity and respect for cultural differences. EYLF V2.0 emphasises the importance of creating inclusive learning environments where children feel valued for their linguistic backgrounds, and languages of resilience and richness. 

In essence, embracing linguistic and cultural diversity in early childhood education and care aligns with the principles of EYLF V2.0, creating and sustaining environments where every child’s unique identity is respected and nurtured. By embracing diversity, we lay the foundation for a more inclusive and harmonious society, where children grow into empathetic global citizens equipped to navigate an increasingly interconnected world. Linguistic and cultural diverse communities thrive through the preservation and protection of languages, which serve as conduits for traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. This also supports intergenerational learning and cultural preservation, and is crucial for inclusive education, and the preservation of indigenous languages.

‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait languages are not just a means of communication, they express knowledge about everything: law, geography, history, family and human relationships, philosophy, religion, anatomy, childcare, health, caring for country, astronomy, biology and food……..Each language is associated with an area of land and has a deep spiritual significance, and it is through their own languages that Indigenous nations maintain their connection with their ancestors, land and law’.

(National NAIDOC Committee Co-Chair Anne Martin)

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