Home language support in school has many meanings

Preschool kids with foreign backgrounds in Sweden will soon get a nationally mandated right to have support in their mother tongue, but many question whether the new law will be effective.

Today, there are wide differences and reported problems with how nursery schools work to develop a child's knowledge of his or her native language. Some kids get lessons with educators, while other schools put up flags and hold theme days or urge parents to speak the native language at home.

Many Swedish districts already state that preschool children should have the right to support in their mother tongue, but the National Agency for Education claims that making this a national law will have a big impact.

The teachers union also sees the new law as positive, but criticizes the text for being too vague and open to interpretation. They say it's still unclear exactly what kids will have the right to and that simply encouraging parents to speak the language at home is not enough.

The new school law goes into effect on July 1.

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