• Chapter

Mother tongue and reading


Piper, B., & Miksic, E. (2011). Mother tongue and reading: Using early grade reading assessments to investigate language-of-instruction policy in East Africa. In A. Gove, & A. Wetterberg (Eds.), The Early Grade Reading Assessment: Applications and Interventions to Improve Basic Literacy (pp. 139-182). Research Triangle Park, NC: RTI Press. DOI: 10.3768/rtipress.2011.bk.0007.1109


Ongoing tension exists in both the academic literature and policy contexts regarding language of instruction (LoI), particularly in sub-Saharan Africa. On the one hand, some families and communities in sub-Saharan Africa prefer literacy instruction in European languages, for quite logical reasons—including that most primary school completion examinations are in these languages, that they are the languages of broader communication, and that they are perceived to be avenues to economic prosperity. On the other hand, many experts (as well as some communities) argue that children most easily acquire reading skills in their mother tongue and that, with appropriate instruction, materials, and other supportive resources and guidance, they can successfully transfer those skills to a language of broader communication, resulting ultimately in better achievement in both languages.