Not all nations provide education in the national tongue.
In India, being educated in English is generally preferred.

I am looking for any study with details about the situations in different countries about this - with details about to what level (primary, secondary school, bachelors or masters) education in the national tongue is provided.

Is there any recent trend among the parents to switch to English?

Please provide any study which would be of help. Thanks.

  • Suresh I think the question should not be here @Linguistics. Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:19
  • Because this public policy depends on how difficult it is to get second language acquisition in large scale, I thought linguists might have some interest in this. BTW, do you think which scholars would be the right people to ask? As far as I could see, it is an interdisciplinary area between linguists, economists, and political scientists. Maybe I will post this question in a political science forum. Thanks.
    – Suresh
    Commented May 18, 2017 at 8:23
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    I don no have any reference available, but I vaguely remember that there was a study in Nigeria comparing education in the native tongue with education in English only. The result was that starting education in the native tongue leads to better performance of the children in all subjects, including the English language. Commented May 18, 2017 at 12:09
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    @WiccanKarnak: I think one can argue that this is on-topic because language planning is a subfield of linguistics. Asking for studies also prevents the question from being "opinion based". Commented May 18, 2017 at 12:23
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2 Answers 2


I suspect that there are not any good studies that will give you a comprehensive answer. You might be able to find a compilation of official national educational policies that covers a sufficient number of countries, but official policy and reality are different things. For example, policy used to be in Tanzania and AFAIK still in Kenya that for one or two years there would be "mother tongue education", but policy was doesn't reflect reality when there exist no mother tongue resources (for which reason Kenya and Tanzania differed in the extent to which they could provide mother tongue education, and this also accounts substantially for the actual high degree of mother tongue instruction in South Africa, whose law is here). This study speaks of the benefits of "local language" instruction, but the case study involves primary schools in Zanzibar where the national language, Swahili, is actually the local language.

Indeed, actual "mother tongue" education is rarely even a policy reality, instead you find "local language" education (which differ when people move around). National-level surveys of language policy and attitudes at least in Africa are few, far-between, and not particularly reliable. I would hesitate to extrapolate from European language practices to the rest of the world.


A Google search will bring up a huge number of articles. Also look at UNESCO and UNICEF and the Global Reading Network websites. There is a big international push for mother tongue-based education (also referred to as multilingual education) and a number of countries have introduced MLE, but on a large scale across all languages, it is not feasible for a range of reasons including lack of materials, lack of orthographies, cost, etc.

  • Welcome to Linguistics.SE. "There is plenty of information available", most certainly, is not the kind of answers we appreciate here. You may need to specify certain sources and explain why they answer the original question. Commented May 24, 2017 at 23:38

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