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International Review of Education

, Volume 34, Issue 4, pp 439–454 | Cite as

Mother-tongue training in school as a determinant of global language proficiency: A Belgian case study

  • Marcel Danesi
Articles
  • 65 Downloads

Abstract

Experimental models of education that incorporate the mother tongue of immigrant children into the structure of their curricula constitute obvious cases-in-point for assessing the validity of bilingual or multilingual education for such children. The present case study of one such model, the so-called ‘Foyer Bicultural Education Project’ of Brussels, is intended to shed some light on the relationship between formal mother-tongue training and the development of global language proficiency in minority-language children. Since this particular case-in-point involves three languages — Italian (the mother tongue), Flemish and French — it is especially interesting with regard to the validity of the so-called ‘interdependence principle’, as formulated by Cummins (1979). The findings presented here confirm Cummins' principle that the development of literacy in the mother tongue is a determinant of global language proficiency in minority-language children.

Keywords

Experimental Model Language Proficiency Mother Tongue Immigrant Child Present Case Study 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Zusammenfassung

Versuchsweise eingeführte Erziehungsmodelle, die die Muttersprache von Einwandererkindern in die Struktur ihrer Curricula einarbeiten, stellen ganz offensichtlich Beispiele dar, die es ermöglichen, eine Daseinsberechtiging für die zwei- oder mehrsprachige Erziehung solcher Kinder zu etablieren. Die vorliegende Untersuchung, das sogenannte ‘Foyer bikulturelle Erziehungsprojekt’ aus Brüssel soll die Beziehung zwischen formaler Muttersprachenausbildung und der Entwicklung globaler Sprachkompetenz bei Kindern mit Minoritätensprachen erläutern. Da der vorliegende Fall drei Sprachen betrifft — Italienisch (als Muttersprache), Flämisch und Französisch — ist er besonders interessant im Hinblick auf die Gültigkeit der sogenannten Interdependenz-Hypothese, die 1979 von Cummins formuliert wurde. Die hier vorgestellten Ergebnisse bestätigen Cummins Hypothese, daß die Entwicklung der Literalität in der Muttersprache ein Determinant der globalen Sprachkompetenz bei Kindern mit Minoritätssprachen sei.

Résumé

Les modèles expérimentaux d'enseignement qui incorporent la langue maternelle d'enfants immigrants dans leurs programmes d'étude constituent des exemples évidents d'évaluation de la validité de l'enseignement bilingue ou multilingue pour ces enfants. La présente étude de cas sur un modèle de ce genre, le ‘Projet Foyer d'Education Biculturelle’ de Bruxelles, vise à apporter quelques éclaircissements sur la relation entre l'apprentissage formel de la langue maternelle et le développement de la compétence linguistique globale chez les enfants appartenant à une minorité linguistique. Du fait que cet exemple spécifique comprend trois langues — l'italien (langue maternelle), le flamand et le français — il est particulièrement intéressant quant à la validité de ce que l'on appelle le ‘principe d'interdépendance’, tel qu'il a été formulé par Cummins (1979). Les résultats qui sont présentés ici confirment le principe de Cummins selon lequel le développement de l'alphabétisme qui s'appuie sur la langue maternelle détermine la compétence linguistique globale d'enfants appartenant à une minorité linguistique.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marcel Danesi

There are no affiliations available

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