International Mother Language Day - 21 Feb 2012

Revitalizing Mayangna Language and Culture: The importance of Mother Tongue Education in Nicaragua

In January 2012, UNESCO held a workshop in Managua, Nicaragua with the aim of working with Mayangna teachers and bilingual education professionals to improve the quality of mother-tongue education that Mayangna children receive.   In particular, teachers were introduced to pilot versions of classroom materials in Mayangna language, based on the UNESCO publication, “Mayangna Knowledge of the Interdependence of People and Nature: Fish and Turtles” and developed by a team of Mayangna education professionals together with UNESCO and Nicaragua’s Ministry of Education. In this audio slideshow, a Mayangna linguist with a background in mother-tongue education and a Mayangna teacher talk about the importance of Mother Tongue education for them, their students and their communities.

See transcript below the video.


In January 2012, a group of Mayangna teachers and education experts attended the workshop:

“Revitalizing Mayangna Knowledge and Language in the Schools of the BOSAWAS Biosphere Reserve, Nicaragua”

Two participants talk about mother tongue education.

Francisco Miguel Castro, bilingual education teacher, Mukuswas Nicaragua.

-Good Morning

Francisco: (Good morning in Mayangna) Francisco: My name is Francisco Miguel Castro, I work for Mayangna education and schools, specifically in the community of Mukuswas. When I was a kid I studied…I had a Spanish teacher, so it was very difficult to learn, because I couldn’t speak Spanish. I was like an object, just listening and nothing else.

Elizabeth Salomón McLean, Autochthonous Mayangna Linguist, Awastingni, Nicaragua

Elizabeth: My name is Elizabeth Salomón McLean, I am a Mayangna person from Awastingni and I am a Mayangna autochthonous linguist. I [also] work in education, developing didactic and grammar materials to help with bilingual education. When I went to school for the first time, it was really hard for me because I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying and I didn’t know when to answer “yes” or “no”, because to me it was like an obscure world. I was an excellent student though, with great grades because I used to memorize every word in Spanish.

What is the importance of mother tongue education?

Francisco: The education is in our own language and at the moment we have our own children in our schools. They have more freedom to express their knowledge, what they observe, their reality, and moreover, they have a greater sense of pride-- that they are part of a language that is their own language, and they now feel they have the same rights as other nations

What are the challenges that mother tongue education has to face?

Elizabeth: When bilingual education started, a lot of parents rejected the idea because they thought: “we don’t want our kids to learn in their mother tongue, they know it already. There is no need for it”. Later when they realized the importance and the real value of their identity, then those parents started to accept it.

On behalf of the group, Elizabeth says a few parting words in the Mayangna language.

She says that she is very happy that the whole world is becoming acquainted with Mayangna culture and language.

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