Essay Sample on How Language Affects a Child's Education

Published: 2022-05-06
Essay Sample on How Language Affects a Child's Education
Type of paper:  Research paper
Categories:  Languages Child development
Pages: 7
Wordcount: 1819 words
16 min read

English is the third most common language spoken by approximately 350million people. There are more than 50 countries in the world that have adopted English as either their primary or the official language. While most of these countries have taken the initiative of introducing English as the official medium of educational instructions, English is not the first language to the children. Learning starts at home, and when it takes place using a foreign or mother tongue, it poses a challenge to children once they join a school setting. Some education systems adopt teaching in the home language for some years before introducing English to the children. On the other hand, majority education systems go straight to English and bypass the foreign mother tongue. The research paper will seek to define the effects that the home language has on a child's education in English, the benefits and the limitations the language has, and the language types that favor the transition to English.

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Literature Review

English Medium education

English medium learning system is the one that adopts the language as their focal instructional language. It mostly occurs where English is not the local language of a people. The mode of education was majorly affected by the spread of the English empire throughout history; consequently, the influence the United States had to the world after the Second World resulted in it becoming a superpower hence increasing the spread and impact (Briggs et al., 2018). The result was a spread of an economic and social-cultural influence associated with the English people. The dominance of English in scholarly material, the world of computing, and formal interactions have made it a predominant language in the world. The prospects that English gives the learners is the ability to be proficient in work, leisure and study (Dafouz & Smit, 2014). There are several advantages affiliated with the use of English as a standard in the education system; firstly, the language is the most spoken language in the world and thus is used to bridge people from different regions in the world. It is acceptable as international and a foreign language. The main advantage of English is its acceptability for common usage in the business and administration interactions and duties.

English Medium Education, however, comes with challenges of comprehension for those who use it as a second language. The wealth of social and cultural environment that was available for children gets gradually assimilated with the adoption of new beliefs and practices (Porter, 2017). With research-based methods in comparison with multilingual education systems, the English medium schooling had a lower pass rate (Briggs et al., 2018). It is therefore clear that the English system is flawed, and it achieves little in aiding education- based learning despite the fact that it helps evade the big problem of diversion of resources that come with the multilingual system.

Some countries such as Wales, Scotland, Cornwall, and Ireland adopted the English medium education in as early as the 15th century. On the other hand, Canada had the French language rights implemented in their country in 1763; nevertheless, they came to adopt the English education system starting from 1896. There was, however, a struggle for implementation of multiculturalism and multilingualism but they all failed in 1971 and 1962 respectively (Porter, 2017). Asian countries that are still practicing the system include India, Malaysia, Indonesia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, The Philippines, The Union of Myanmar and Slovenia (Lo & Lo, 2014). Great Britain also had several African colonies that have implemented conclusive English medium education in their schools; these countries include South Africa, Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Namibia, Sierra Leone and Zambia (Lo & Lo, 2014). Some French-speaking countries in Africa such as Rwanda and Burundi have also adopted the same learning system (Nikula et al., 2016).

Mother Tongue-Based Education

It is the education system that adopts the first language or the languages that the children are more familiar with as a medium of instruction. Mother tongue is the language spoken by the mother and is the first form of sounds that the children get exposed to and imitate (Dafouz & Smit, 2014). There is overwhelming evidence of the abilities of children to learn fast with the languages they are familiar with (Nikula et al., 2016). However, the real scenario is different as many of the children in the world get taught with a different language; the most predominant dialect being the powers that colonized the lands such as French, English, Arabic, Spanish or Dutch (Spies et al., 2017). The advantage of the mother tongue education is that the children learn fast and understand better, there is an increase in self-esteem, schools perform better with reduced repetition, parent's participation increases, and the children enjoy school more.

Multilingual Educational Systems

These are systems that adopt education in the mother tongues within the initial years of the students and then adopt a formal language later. Children speaking a different home language from the school one are called bilingual children. The system is useful in taking advantage of both forms of communication to build a better understanding of concepts. There are practices available for societies practicing multilingual system which advocates leaving behind the mother tongue once the new formal language, like English, is taught, they are known as the Sink education systems (Cenoz & Gorter, 2015). Language support is offered to the children to improve their grasp and competence in the new language; the multilingual educational structure is advantageous because it provides a good language foundation and prepares the child to reconcile their learning to the new system. It also reduces the effects of eradication of the social-cultural background of the children (Cenoz & Gorter, 2015).

Learning English as a Second Language

Previous research has been helpful in providing information on the abilities of children to learn new languages. Children are sound geniuses who cannot discriminate sounds unlike how the adults distinguish dialects since they are culture-bound listeners. Children's capability to imitate sounds gives them an edge in learning; therefore, unless a suggestion is put forward by an adult that what they are learning is hard, then it is easier for them to adapt to the new language and work out the rules. The critical factor in the process is the need to start at an early age (Nikula et al., 2016). When learning a second language, an introduction early in life proves more successful; arguably, the children pick it up quickly in their play activities with caregivers and adults. The motivation is the interaction they share, and therefore that is the opportune time to introduce the second language. Adult education activities such as songs, stories, games, crafts, and movement dance activities develop the mind of the child to enable communication. Moreover, the young are afraid to make mistakes; this is an essential function in the efficient learning process.

Research Questions

What are the effects of the home language on the child education?

What are the advantages and disadvantages of home language to a child's education?

Which language types are helpful for children trying to learn English?


The research was focused on secondary sources of data collected by government, institutions scholars and non-governmental organizations. An analysis of peer-reviewed scholarly articles and journals in databases was used to find information related to mother language and the effects on education. The tools used for the search of the journals included EBSCO, Google Scholar, and JSTOR. The main keywords used for the search were; effects of home language on education, advantages of home language to education, disadvantages of home language to education and the types of languages helpful to people trying to learn English. Scholarly articles and reports that were produced after 2014 were the ones considered for the data analysis. After the data collection, the information was analyzed to find the relation to the research questions.

Merits and demerits of secondary data

The advantage of analysis of secondary sources is that it saves time since the process is simplified as it doesn't involve the aesthetics of primary process. The secondary data sources are available in various online and libraries' databases. There are international and longitudinal studies coupled with the peer-reviewed journal; arguably, these sources prove their credibility mainly due to the data collection methods used. Since various peer-reviewed authors with different angles to the study carried out the research, they provide new insights into the study. The disadvantage of the secondary sources is that it allows for a vast amount of information that may end up being inappropriate for the study. The data may also be outdated, or its accuracy unknown.


Education does not start at school. Research in Canada and China proved that Children start learning by the third trimester of pregnancy. The first learning experience experienced by the child is heavily influenced by the interaction they have with the family and the community at large. The attitudes adopted by a child are dependent on the first five years of their life. Most of the period will be spent at home as most of the children join the school at the ages of 4 or 5. The environment around the kid at the time is therefore significant for the process of learning.

Language is vital in the process of learning. It defines queries, emotions, and things around us. With language, we can communicate well. One characteristic it has is the ability to directly associate directly with a person 's culture and the surroundings (Dafouz & Smit, 2014). When a child gets exposed to its first home language, it aids in integration and association of it with the environment, attitudes, emotions, and concepts. Increase in its use is coupled with the ability to learn. When a child becomes proficient in one language, then it becomes easy to explain ideas and information to them in that language. Home language is, therefore, the number one form of communication that will enable a child to expand their cognitive skills.

Starting the new learning process

Start of learning in school presents a continuation of the learning at home. It provides a structured way of processing concepts, and it also provides a new environment for the child. The abrupt change of environment and language to the child causes complication; arguably when the latter is used such as in an English medium education system, there learning process has to start all over again (Nikula et al., 2016). The child needs to create a new relation between concepts, objects, emotions, and practices based on the language which is different from theirs.

The transition from Mother Tongue to English: the presence of a Predominant Language

A bilingual theory states that people have different methods of processing each language. Therefore, the perception of objects, emotions, and surroundings is different in every language (Spies et al., 2017). The two separate systems begin with the two different sound systems. From a study with the Spanish bilingual people, participants were introduced to different pseudo words starting with the sounds "pa" and "ba". The two languages involved were Spanish and English where the two sounds existed.

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