mother helping her son to read in school library

The Language Friendly School – a network of schools that welcome all languages – supports school communities in achieving realistic goals that aim to include plurilingual learners in education.

Most recently, the Language Friendly School had the opportunity to discuss the processes of implementation and the changes that have occurred since adopting Language Friendly approaches at eight Language Friendly Schools across the Netherlands and in Canada.

What drives administrators and teachers to opt for a Language Friendly approach?

The administrators and teachers who were interviewed* for this project hold varying levels of familiarity with linguistic and cultural diversity.

Some advocated for the Language Friendly School approach in an attempt to reconcile their own experiences as young children who faced challenges due to linguistic differences and lack of representation in education. Others saw the need in their communities as a result of the growing number of linguistically and culturally diverse migrant families in their schools.

Significant improvements in student and parent participation

One of the most striking results of these interviews is that teachers and school administrators have seen significant improvements in student and parent participation and engagement in the life of the school.

The Language Friendly School created opportunities for communication between students, their families, and community partners. Participants shared many innovative teaching practices developed by teachers and members of the school as a whole, including students. All have a common goal: to facilitate exchange and celebration of diversity in education for better learning and a more inclusive environment.

Analysis of the interviews presents important insight into what changes can be made to support plurilingualism in traditionally monolingual settings.

The final report will provide a more detailed explanation of both the pedagogical and structural changes that have already been applied, as well as those that have yet to be implemented at the participating schools. We will also explore in greater detail the behavioral and attitudinal changes of all members of the school community in response to the move toward more intentional practices that support linguistic and cultural inclusivity in education.


* Interviews were conducted by Priscilla Boyce (Rutu Foundation) and analysed by Dr Emmanuelle Le Pichon-Vorstman and Reshara Alviarez (Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) at the University of Toronto).

Frequently Asked Questions about the UN Committee’s report on the Netherlands

In August 2021, the UN Committee Against Racial Discrimination expressed its concerns about discrimination of multilingual children in the Netherlands. The committee confirmed that restricting or punishing children for speaking their mother tongue in the school environment is discriminatory and that the Netherlands should take measures to ensure that this does not happen anymore.

We can imagine this report raises questions for teachers such as:

Does a teacher need to speak all their students’ languages?

Internationally, the best practice for multilingual children is considered to be mother tongue based multilingual education: offering children instruction in a language they know best, while also including the dominant language.

With many different languages in the classroom, it may be practically difficult – but not impossible! – to provide instruction in each language. How do you it? How can teachers make space for all languages in the classroom? In a series of blog post, we will try to answer your questions.

The good news is: it is absolutely not necessary for teachers to speak every language! You can still use the wide variety of languages present in the classroom, without understanding the languages themselves. Here are some examples:

  • One of the Language Friendly Schools show how they value and use linguistic diversity in this video.
  • Video about multilingualism in the classroom

The Language Friendly School

The Rutu Foundation founded the Language Friendly School – a school label and a global network – as a response to the increasing multilingualism in schools around the world. Language Friendly Schools embrace the linguistic diversity of all students, their parents and the entire school community. The network of Language Friendly Schools  support each other in developing language inclusive approaches in their own contexts. Do you want to know more about the Language Friendly School or learn more about language inclusive practices? Read more on the Language Friendly School website.

Read more about the UN Committee’s report here.

For English, click here

Genève – Op 25 augustus j.l. heeft het VN-Comité inzake rassendiscriminatie Nederland aangemaand maatregelen te nemen zodat meertalige leerlingen niet beperkt of bestraft worden als zij op school hun moedertaal spreken. Het Comité zegt zich zorgen te maken over discriminatie die leerlingen met een migratieachtergrond ondervinden binnen het Nederlandse onderwijs. Het gebruik van de thuistaal mag, op grond van het VN-Verdrag inzake rassendiscriminatie, niet worden verboden.

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