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Home Languages

If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head.

If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart.


– Nelson Mandela

Every child arrives at school with a language, and sometimes with more than one. If these languages are not the same as the school language they are still a fundamental part of a child’s identity, and every child has the right to have their home language(s) embraced, valued, supported, at school. No matter how minor their language, or the status of the language in the community, these languages represent an integral part of a child, and must not be side-lined or neglected. Research shows clearly the value of MT/L1 sustainability and the overall benefits to the academic, cognitive, linguistic and social growth of children. Schools who welcome children from other language backgrounds have a duty and a responsibility to ensure that each pupil continues to develop in all their languages. Home Language tuition is one pathway to this goal, but there are many ways in which schools can promote positive models of bilingualism and encourage all pupils to thrive because of their languages rather than in spite of their languages.

CEC has defined three different models for home languages support in schools:

Three different models for home languages support

An analysis of the pros and cons in each model can be found in the article Do we need to change our approach to mother tongue? in the International School Magazine (Summer 2016, p. 11)

CEC provides advising and professional development targeting home language provisions in schools. This can include advising on programme structure and development as well as curriculum and resourcing for all three models.

In addition, CEC works with schools to promote additive bilingualism and to help develop a “languages across the curriculum” model, in which all languages can be integrated into the classroom and used for learning in schools. More information about this approach can be found on the Translanguaging page.

If you would like more information about 'Home Languages' please use the contact form below.

For parents whose native language is not English, raising their child in an English speaking environment can be daunting and confusing at the same time. Eowyn's clear approach reinforces with parents what they often instinctively feel is right but are not always convinced of - the need to maintain their child's home language. 

Iain Fish, Head of School, European International School HCMC
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