Mother tongue-based Multilingual Instruction

These Filipino children just took a test. But not just any test. This test measured the impact that instruction beginning in their mother tongue has had on their learning. Following the assessment of more than 400 students, the test results from eight "experimental" schools were compared to results from five "control" schools.

And the outcome? Students taught in classes using mother tongue-based multilingual education outperformed the others in each subject! The most dramatic gains were in reading comprehension, where test scores showed a gain of 18.4% for classes taught using the mother tongue-based multilingual strategy. The overall gain for all subjects was 10%.

When adjustments were made for one atypical school performance (due to disparity in teacher experience), the overall gain of mother tongue-first classrooms shot up to 18.1%. The largest gains were in English (23.9%) and reading comprehension (23.0%).

A solid foundation of basic concepts taught first through the mother tongue better prepares children for a life of reading and functioning in their multilingual society.