For every 1 microg/dL increase in blood lead concentration, there was a 0.7-point decrement in mean arithmetic scores, an approximately 1-point decrement in mean reading scores, a 0.1-point decrement in mean scores on a measure of nonverbal reasoning, and a 0.5-point decrement in mean scores on a measure of short-term memory. (Lanphear, et al., 2000)Exposure to lead causes lower school performance, and a lifetime of follow-on consequences for job opportunities and earning potential. Removing lead from the environment increases test scores significantly in both reading and math. Education in a second language causes lower school performance, and a lifetime of follow-on consequences for job opportunities and earning potential. Teaching in a familiar language increases test scores significantly in both reading and math. Study after study shows that children learn much better when taught in their own language. This is true at all levels. Whether the subject is reading or science, students are much faster at grasping concepts in a language they already understand.
This becomes clear [in Swiss universities] in highly formalised sciences such as mathematics. This content is taught, discussed or reported in a specific language – be it German, French or English. Gerd Folkers teaches chemistry at ETH Zurich, and illustrates things as follows: “If I lecture in the English language in German-speaking Switzerland about the biochemical impact of new antibiotics, then I use our theoretical language. But if I speak about its possible application in pig feed and its problematical consequences for human beings, then German might be the better choice of language because the brain can order complex interdisciplinary facts better in one’s mother tongue. It’s about getting the right balance and about finding the appropriate language for the appropriate content”.Foreign languages, which include the colonial souvenir languages used in government, are learned best as subjects for study; you take classes to learn English or French, but you don't use those languages as your entryway to business or chemistry. Yet, in much of Africa, classes are conducted mostly in the foreign languages starting as early as the first day of primary school, and usually by the beginning of secondary school. Quite often, neither the teacher nor the student is proficient in the language of instruction. The result is that students don't understand what the teacher is saying, don't feel comfortable asking or answering questions, and do not move up to higher levels. (For much greater analysis, we recommend reading Optimising Learning, Education and Publishing in Africa: The Language Factor.) Imagine what it would be like to walk into a school where you were expected to learn to read in a language you don't know. You don't know the words, you don't know the rules, you don't know the pronunciations. The teacher can drill you on the alphabet, but the words you assemble hold no meaning for you. Compare that to the 📽 video below, in which Nicole, who lives in the French part of Switzerland and speaks French among her native languages, can master reading the language - the 📃 text that you see her reading for the first time reveals meanings with which she has become familiar throughout her previous years of acquiring the language orally. As she continues through school, language will present no obstacles to her efforts to learn biology, law, or economics - unless she were forced to study all those subjects in German, instead of learning German as one of her courses. As Fredua-Kwarteng and Ahia point out in examining why Ghanaian students scored 44th out of 45 countries in a grade eight mathematics test, "countries that top-performed in the mathematics test--- Taiwan, Malaysia, Latvia, Russia- used their own language to teach and learn mathematics," while Ghanaian students took the test in their non-native English. The effect of schooling in a foreign language can be clearly seen in this video that secondary students in Zanzibar made to show why the language of their education is causing them to fail school. One of the barriers to mother tongue education is a lack of learning resources for most non-favored languages. Books and technology tools are rare or non-existent. Neither dictionaries that can define the concepts of subject like physics or history, nor encyclopedias that can provide more extensive explanations, are available to most African students in any meaningful way. Nor, for the most part, has subject-specific terminology been developed to enable communication about school topics in students' languages. Yet, these resources have been produced for lucrative languages, and are readily available for children in wealthy countries to master their studies. Producing similar resources for hundreds of millions of children who do not speak privileged languages is a matter of applying the time and money to use our current and future tools - reducing the 👅🚪 linguistic barriers to education, 🆓 free to students, on 📱 devices accessible today to most families in Africa. /info/educational_outcomes