Kids and Language

As a mother of 2 small children I am continually astounded by their language development- the words they pick up and the way they manage to play with multiple languages already. As we're currently living in Vienna they are having to master German on top of English… so here are some of my ponderings on the linguistic theme.


educational freedom

The ‘Mother Tongue’ of multilingual children

mother tongueWhat do you consider to be the mother tongue of your multilingual child? Would you say it’s literally the ‘tongue’ of the mother (even if that is the minority language) or all of the languages spoken by your child? The language where they were born? Or even the school language??

To be honest- who cares? What difference does it make to our children? Well, often schools and states do care… children have to indicate what their first language is for the school records, and many health care providers etc. ask for the mother tongue too. There are other form- filling situations  where you are only allowed to put in one language… wouldn’t it be nice if we could just write “bilingual”, and leave it at that!

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Following Peshawar, the future of education in Pakistan

It’s taken me almost a week to muster the calm required to write this post.

As a mother I am horrified by the massacre which took place in a school in Peshawar, Pakistan last Tuesday, and my heart goes out to the mothers and fathers who have lost their children in this senseless and unjustified attack. Over 148 people, mostly children, were slaughtered, and I have not been able to watch the news without feeling terror that this kind of thing can happen somewhere in the world.

As a teacher I am horrified that a school is the chosen location of the Taliban militants. No child should be afraid to receive an education, and no child should be terrorised in their school- a place that every child should be able to feel safe and protected. We have seen before with the attack on Malala Yousafzai also in Pakistan that our young are not safe from this kind of targeting, but the scale and brutality of this outrage has exceeded anything that has gone before.

And as a human I am horrified at the attack on innocents, who should not be caught up in this appalling quasi- religious war. Whether adults or children, in Pakistan or the rest of the world, to have innocent people as the deliberate target shows how little mercy the extremists show, and requires a powerful response from the Pakistani government and other world leaders.

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The right to a childhood and an education

downloadWhat a wonderful thing it is that Malala Yousafzay and Kailash Satyarthi have won the Nobel Peace Prize this year. The Nobel committee described both laureates as “champions of peace”. They received this honour for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

Malala Yousafzay said she was there to stand up for the rights of forgotten and frightened children, and raise their voice rather than pity them. Despite her youth, Malala has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances.

Continue reading “The right to a childhood and an education”

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