Experts: International Mother Language Day | February 21

Published: 18 February 2022

International Mother Language Day recognizes that languages and multilingualism can advance inclusion, and the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on leaving no one behind. UNESCO believes education, based on the first language or mother tongue, must begin from the early years as early childhood care and education is the foundation of learning. 

The theme of the 2022 International Mother Language Day, “Using technology for multilingual learning: Challenges and opportunities,” raises the potential role of technology to advance multilingual education and support the development of quality teaching and learning for all. (United Nations) 

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue: 

Amir Kalan, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education  

“Digital advancement has helped minoritized and Indigenous languages in reclamation and revitalization processes. It has brought together communities of mother tongue activists and created possibilities for archiving and curating oppressed languages. Nevertheless, we should not forget that minoritized populations often have little sustainable access to digital media and networks. Technology alone cannot tackle issues that require public funding and the systemic support of governmental organizations.” 

Amir Kalan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. His research interests include critical literacy, multiliteracies, second language writing, intercultural rhetoric, multilingual text generation, and multimodal and digital writing. 

amir.kalan [at] (English)  

Debra Titone, Full Professor, Department of Psychology 

“In the past two years, human communication across every social context has shifted online at a global scale. This has the power to remove barriers in multilingual learning and communication, whether it be in small or large groups, in younger and older people, during synchronous face-to-face interaction, asynchronous text comprehension, or some hybrid of the two. At the same time, online communication privileges people who already have access to technologies and linguistic knowledge required to join the global conversation. My research group investigates how people’s unique language and sociocultural experiences impact and are impacted by how they read and use language generally in their mother language(s) and also other languages.” 

Debra Titone is a Full Professor in the Department of Psychology and the Canada Research Chair in Language and Multilingualism. She is the director of the Language and Multilingualism Lab and a member of the Montréal Bilingualism Initiative. Her research interests include cognitive and behavioural neuroscience, and cognitive, neural, and social processes involved in bilingual and monolingual language. 

debra.titone [at] (English) 

Angelica Galante, Assistant Professor, Department of Integrated Studies in Education 

“Multilingual education validates learners’ linguistic and cultural identities, creating a safe space in the classroom where they can take ownership of their own learning by accessing content in different languages, including the language of instruction. Technology is paramount for the advancement of multilingual education, especially during and post-COVID-19. In multilingual education, it is important that educators choose tools that allow learners to access and create content in different languages and not only in the language of instruction. For example, learners can access content about a topic in different languages and collaboratively create artifacts such as a digital multilingual poster, or a digital storytelling in different languages, which can be shared with members of their family and in their communities.”   

Angelica Galante is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Integrated Studies in Education. Her research interests are rooted in social justice, inclusive education, and critical sociolinguistics. She is also interested in working with linguistically and culturally minoritized student populations and communities. 

angelica.galante [at] (English, Portuguese) 

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