Early-exit language transitioning programming: the rationale, the benefits and the limitations

Auteur(s) : Trudell, Barbara

Publisher(s): UNESCO

Date: 2023

Pages: 14 p.


Issues of language choice in formal education contexts are highly relevant to successful learning outcomes. The choice of a language of instruction (LoI) that the learners understand and speak is well recognized as one determiner of inclusive and equitable education, and as a key component of accomplishing both Sustainable Development Goal 4 and the Global Education 2030 Agenda. In multilingual education (MLE) programming, the most common models for including local languages in the formal education system are transition models: the learner’s first language is used as medium of instruction in the early grades, after which another language becomes the medium of instruction. Early-exit language transition features the use of the first language in the early primary grades only; late-exit language transition maintains the use of the first language through the later primary grades, before shifting to another language of instruction. In multilingual nations across the global South, the early-exit language transition model is the most common national MLE policy choice. This paper examines the benefits, limitations and possibilities of early-exit language transition programming across the world, with particular focus on its implementation in countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America. This paper was commissioned by UNESCO as background information to the International Mother Language Day 2023 on Multilingual Education - A necessity to transform education (Paris, 21 February 2023).

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