Monday, February 21, 2022

IMLD 2022: Using technology for multilingual learning

Source: IMLD2022 social media pack. (Yes, the laptop graphic is
superposed on the photo)

The theme of the 2022 edition of International Mother Language Day (21 February) is "Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities." According to UNESCO's homepage for IMLD 2022, the focus of this year's observation is "the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all."

Having a long-time interest in languages, technology, and development (with learning fundamental in that nexus), I'm personally happy to see the highlighting of  multilingualism and technology in education.

At the same time, one is well aware that multilingualism is often not a relationship of equals. Some languages are "well-resourced" in terms of materials, support for use in information and communication technologies, policy agendae, and monetary budgets. Other languages, including the mother languages of Africa, tend not to have these benefits in the same measure or at all.

So while it is a positive step to have all languages be included in multilingual approaches - as opposed to being marginalized or excluded from education and public discourse - I see an implicit call in the theme of this year's IMLD for attention to strengthening the position of the "less-resourced" languages among them. It would be helpful to make that point explicit.

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