Why your child should learn to read in their mother tongue.

Is your child learning to read? Should they learn to read in English or in their mother tongue?

Learning to read is one of the hardest things a child will do in their life. With many children urged to first learn to read in a language other than their own, the process can become even harder. 

But, the truth is that children actually learn faster and better in their mother tongue. Mother tongue is the language a child learns from birth or is most familiar with speaking at home.

Research shows that learning to read in your mother tongue is key to later learning to read in English or another language.

Why learning in your mother tongue is important

It’s only normal for a child to experience some difficulty or pressure when they first learn to read. So, imagine how scary it can be to learn in a language you don’t know yet? By first learning in a language you’re not familiar with, it’s likely you will struggle to understand what it is you’re reading. And if you struggle to understand, you will struggle to learn. Learning in your mother tongue is essential to building a strong language foundation that helps all learning throughout life. 

Once you’ve gained the foundational skills needed to read in your mother tongue, learning to read in a second or even third language becomes a lot easier. Here are some of the benefits of your child learning to read in their mother tongue.

  • Children feel more comfortable and confident learning in their mother tongue 
  • Mother tongue is essential for building key literacy and learning skills that help to make ALL learning easier
  • Children who first become fluent readers in their mother tongue are more likely to do better in school 
  • Children connect and relate better to stories told in their local language
  • Children who first learn to read in their mother tongue often find that learning to read in a second language is easier
  • Mother tongue-based learning can also help build a child’s personal, social and cultural identity

As challenging as learning to read can be, it is possible to make the process easier for your child by first learning in their mother tongue and then moving on to new languages. Think of it as giving your child a solid foundation from which they can build and grow for the rest of their academic, social and work life.

Not sure where to start?

Download our ‘Feed the Monster’ app for free, available in 50+ languages, and help your child learn to read in their mother tongue.

Want to learn more?

Join our movement of Curious Readers.