The term ‘mother tongue’ can be defined in several ways – for example:

  • It is the language you first learn as a child
  • It is often the language you know best before starting school
  • It is a language with which you identify culturally
  • It is the language spoken to you by one of your parents

Language you learn as a young child
The language you learn in your childhood, before any formal language education, is often referred to as your mother tongue. This first language continues to be important for linguistic and cognitive development all through childhood. We may eventually become “better” in another language, but our mother tongue will always be our mother tongue!

Language of cultural identity
The language spoken in the family is an important part of a child’s cultural identity. Continuing to use and develop this language contributes to a child’s sense of belonging and heritage, especially important for children living abroad. blockquote>