21 Febrewaris: “Dei fan de memmetaal” – ek foar flechtlingen en asylsikers?

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8495219567_679f057b13_zYn 1952 kamen de ynwenners yn Bangladesh yn ferwar tsjin it ferbod de eigen memmetaal te brûken yn it ûnderwiis en it iepenbiere libben. Op 21 febrewaris fan dat jier wie der in grutte demonstraasje dy’t fjouwer studinten it libben koste hat. Sûnt 1999 hâldt de Unesco dy dei yn eare as “ynternasjonale dei fan de memmetaal”. Gjin niget, dat ek yn Fryslân krekt yn dizze wike in oantal taal-aktiviteiten plakfûn hat: Frysk heart no by de earste hûndert talen yn Google Translate. De Baskyske film ‘Amama’ is fertoand mei ûndertiteling yn it Frysk én it Ingelsk. De gemeente Het Bildt freget om offisjele, nasjonale en Europeeske erkenning fan it Biltsk as regionale taal yn it ramt fan de gemeentlike weryndieling ta de nije gemeente Waadhoeke. It doel is net om it Biltsk of it Frysk op te sluten op eigen hiem, mar krekt om de bern en de grutte minsken fan de eigen feilige taalsitewaasje wei in kâns te bieden op evenwichtige meartaligens: thús mei de eigen talen en op de hiele wrâld mei Dútsk, Ingelsk, Frânsk, Spaansk, Arabysk en sa mear.

Jildt de mearwearde fan meartaligens ek foar de flechtlingen en asylsikers? Hoe kin dy wier makke wurde? Kin Nederlân wat leare fan Fryslân en Flaanderen?
Net, as wy fêsthâlde oan it belied, dat nijkommers allinnich mar Nederlânsk leare én brûke meie. Wol, as wy sjen en begripe wolle, dat it erkennen en brûken fan de memmetaal goed is foar de taalûntjouwing en de identiteitsûntwikkeling fan it bern; dat omtinken foar de memmetaal it learen fan Nederlânsk en Ingelsk gjin ûnderstek docht, mar krekt befoarderje kin. Myn eigen ûnderfining mei ûnderwiis yn mear talen tagelyk yn de needopfang yn Ljouwert tsjûget dêrfan. Op grutte plakkaten haw ik sels basiswurdskat skreaun: links de Ingelske wurden, yn ‘e midden de Nederlânske wurden, wylst de kursisten sels dy begripen rjochts yn it Arabysk opskreaun hawwe. Wurden by de getallen, de dagen fan de wike, it deistich iten en drinken, de omjouwing fan wenjen en winkeljen, de bûging fan de wichtichste tiidwurden. Op in dei haw ik mei in tûke jonge fan 12 jier út Syrië, dy’t al aardich knap Ingelsk prate koe, rekkensommen opsteld. Hy skreau de getallen yn wurden út yn it Ingelsk, ik yn it Nederlânsk en de jongere bern yn de klasse hawwe earst de sommen makke, de útkomst yn getallen opskreaun, dêrnei de wurden yn it Ingelsk én yn it Nederlânsk foarlêzen. It wie in aardichheid en alle learlingen hawwe der wat by leard op it mêd fan rekkenjen én talen.

It trijetalich ûnderwiis yn Fryslân is ek bedoeld om Nederlânsk, Frysk en Ingelsk yn gearhing mei elkoar te learen, as fak en as fiertaal, mûnling en skriftlik. De ferbining fan talen mei de wrâldoriïntaasje makket de learlingen sterk en fleksibel yn taalgebrûk en wrâldbewustwêzen. No’t der folle mear nije bern fan oare lannen en kultueren bykomme, is it de baas en jou omtinken oan de eigentlike memmetaal fan de nijkommers, bygelyks troch elke taal fan de bern in kear as tema fan de wrâldoriïntaasje sintraal te stellen. Dat kin noch fersterke wurde troch de âlden of pakes en beppes nei skoalle te noegjen om de tradisjonele ferhalen te fertellen, bygelyks by bysûndere gebrûksfoarwerpen of eigen lieten. Op guon skoallen yn Flaanderen wurdt wurke mei goede berneboeken yn twa talen, de oarspronklike taal fan de nijkommers én it Nederlânsk. Dêrmei wurdt de wearde fan de eigen tradysje en taal befêstige foar de identiteitsfoarming en tagelyk it bewustwêzen fan de wearde fan meartaligens fersterke.
As de flechtlingen en asylsikers de kâns krije de eigen memmetaal te brûken en tagelyk Nederlânsk én Ingelsk te learen, sille dy minsken har aanst net allinnich better thúsfiele by ús, mar ek better funksjonearje as ambassadeurs en skeakelfigueren mei it lân dêr’t sy wei komme en dêr’t sy grif graach nei werom wolle.

February 21: International Mother Tongue Day – but for refugees and asylum seekers as well?

In 1952, university students in Bangladesh rose in protest against the ban on the use of their mother tongue in education. During the public demonstration on February 21st, four students lost their lives. Since the independence of Bangladesh in 1956, February 21 has come to be known as Bangladesh’ Liberation Day. Since 1999, the Unesco commemorates this day as the ‘International Day of the Mother Tongue’.
No wonder that in Friesland (Netherlands) a number of special language activities recently took place on this ‘day’. In the first place, the launching of the Frisian language on Google Translate, an event which is highly important for the preservation of the language in the digital era; secondly, the release of the Basque film ‘Amama’ with subtitling in both Frisian and English. The presentation marks the link between two European Capitals of Culture: Donostia-San Sebastián in 2016 and Leeuwarden-Friesland in 2018; and thirdly, the presentation of the official request of the small enclave language ’Bilts’ with 6,000 mother tongue speakers, concerning its recognition as a regional language within the scope of the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. Due to the merging process of a number of municipalities in Friesland, the claim for recognition can be considered urgent in order to guarantee the position of both Bilts and Frisian as languages of the local communities belonging to the new municipality ‘Waadhoeke’. This recognition is by no means aimed at isolation; instead the goal is to create opportunities for children and adults alike for the development of balanced multilingualism: at home with their own languages and abroad with international languages such as English, French, German, Spanish, Arabic, etc.

But does the added value of multilingualism also apply to refugees and asylum seekers? If so, how can that be realized? Can national states such as the Netherlands, learn from examples of multilingual communities such as Friesland and Flanders? Surely not, as long as national governments and educational authorities persist in their policy of teaching only the national language to newcomers and banning the use of newcomers’ mother tongues in education. But definitely yes, if we understand and consider that the use of the mother tongue is of great value for the development of children’s language and identity. And the more so, if education is convinced that the learning and the use of the migrant mother tongue is of great assistance in the acquisition of both the national language and foreign languages.

My own experience as a multilingual teacher in the refugee camp in my home town has convinced me more than ever of the intrinsic value of mother-tongue education for the balanced development of pupils with regard to their future. During these classes, I used large posters (A3) with basic vocabulary in three columns: English on the left and Dutch in the center, while the pupils wrote the Arabic equivalents on right-hand column. Vocabulary included numbers, days of the week, food and drinks, environment of the homes and shops, but also basic grammar of main verbs and their conjugation. One day, I asked a smart young (12) boy from Syria who spoke English quite well, to devise a number of arithmetic problems for the younger children. He not only thought up the problems, but also wrote them word-by-word in English whereas I did the same in Dutch. De younger children did the arithmetic and then read them aloud in English as well as in Dutch. All pupils learned both arithmetic and language(s), and the inclusive approach delighted them.

In Friesland, trilingual education aims at the integrated learning of Dutch, Frisian and English, both as a subject and medium of instruction, orally and in writing. The linking of language learning and subject teaching will increase the flexibility in thinking and linguistic awareness of the pupils, and contribute to effortless language usage. Now that we are receiving many more pupils from other countries and cultures in our schools, it is crucial to pay attention to their respective mother tongues and related cultures, for example in lessons of world orientation. The attention and respect for newcomers and their cultures can also be strengthened by inviting parents and grandparents into the classroom, letting them tell traditional stories and sing their own songs.

In Flanders, the O Mundo project has introduced a selection of children’s books from newcomers’ countries into the classroom. The books have been published in two languages: the original language and Dutch; the original illustrations and design have been applied and various didactic suggestions included. In this approach, the value of inherent traditions and languages is being confirmed alongside with the strengthening of the awareness of multilingualism as an asset.
Refugees and asylum seekers should be granted the opportunity to use and develop their own mother tongue and, at the same time, acquire the national language, for example Dutch, as well as international languages such as English, in which case they will not only more readily feel at home in their new living environment, but also be able to play a role as ambassadors for our countries as well as emissaries to their countries of origin, countries to which they certainly wish to return.

Skreaun troch/written by: Alex Riemersma.

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