Mother Tongue

Definition: The Mother Tongue of second language learners (also known as first language, home language, preferred language, native language, heritage language, and best language), describes the language that students use at home, and/or outside the classroom environment, (IBO Second Language and Mother-Tongue Development, January 2004).

The Importance of Mother Tongue

The International School of Tianjin acknowledges the critical role, particularly in the Elementary years, that the maintenance and development of language and literacy skills in mother tongues play with regard to the facilitation of second language learning, the development of additive bilingualism, continuous cognitive development, increasing intercultural awareness and understanding and supporting students in remaining connected to the language, literature, culture and community and educational system of their home country (p12, IBO Second Language and Mother-tongue Development, January 2004).

The Promotion of Mother Tongue

In line with its Language Philosophy, IST actively seeks to support the maintenance and development of students’ mother tongues during the school day and beyond in so much as school resources permit this to be achieved.

Mother Tongue Policy

IST will consider the provision of formal Language A mother-tongue classes for elementary and/or secondary
students when both of the following conditions are met:

  • the number of students participating in the given mother tongue language course in a school division constitutes 10% or more of the total student population in that division of the school, and
  • the combined number of elementary and secondary students participating in the given mother tongue language course/s constitutes 10% or more of the total student population.

The Board of Governors may approve the provision of mother tongue classes in situations where this these criteria are not met, on the basis that the cost of the program is either funded by the parents or shared proportionately between the parents and the school, as determined by the school. Parents who commit to the program must make a full year’s financial commitment for this component of their school fees. Mother tongue classes will normally be scheduled at the same time as the host country language, Mandarin Chinese; thus a student who studies mother tongue language will normally be unable to study Mandarin Chinese.