What is a Mother-tongue Promotion literacy program?

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A Mother-tongue Promotion literacy program is a program which makes a strong effort to encourage the use of the mother tongue as a vehicle for literacy.

Indicating conditions

Here are some conditions that indicate the choice of a Mother-tongue Promotion literacy program:

  • The mother tongue has low prestige.
  • The mother tongue is no longer spoken in all social domains.
  • There is a negative attitude towards the mother-tongue culture because the culture of dominant society is more highly valued.
  • Literacy in a language of wider communication (LWC) is valued much more highly than literacy in the mother tongue.
  • There is a lack of interest in mother-tongue literacy.
  • There is a lack of interest in literacy at all, much less in the mother tongue.
  • Few, if any, mother-tongue speakers are modeling the value of reading in the mother tongue.
Program goals

Here are some typical program goals of a Mother-tongue Promotion literacy program:

  • To raise the status of the mother tongue relative to the LWC used in the area
  • To demonstrate the functional importance of the mother tongue for literacy
  • To increase motivation for use of literacy in the mother tongue
Possible strategies and activities

Here are some recommended strategies for a Mother-tongue Promotion literacy program:

  • Orient key opinion makers to the value of the mother tongue and mother-tongue literacy. These leaders could be in the church, the local community, or some small association of educated elite living in the capital city.
  • Give people a lot of exposure to materials in print in customary settings.


    Creating a print-rich environment

  • Link literacy to common activities in daily life.


    Exposing people to reading and writing

  • Organize small-scale experimental literacy classes to show that people can successfully become literate in the mother tongue.
  • Publish some prestigious material in the local language.
  • Develop a biliteracy strategy, encouraging literacy in both the mother tongue and the LWC.
  • Make available a large amount of mother-tongue literature on topics which respond to specific felt needs of mother-tongue speakers.
  • Look for and promote any interest in literacy in the church and community
  • Develop a promotional program with the local media.

    • Ask for space in newspapers for mother-tongue announcements, news, and advertisements.
    • Ask for radio and TV public service time for mother-tongue announcements and news.
See also

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Page content last modified: 27 July 1999

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