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### Translation Troubles: Navigating the Maze of Misunderstanding

Education systems worldwide are struggling to cultivate fundamental literacy skills in nearly half of young learners, a crisis exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent research sheds light on a concerning issue: the discrepancy between the language spoken at home by students and the language of instruction in schools.

According to a doctoral candidate at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, over 40% of children globally receive education in a language they are not proficient in. This shift towards using English as the primary medium of instruction has been observed in various countries and even within refugee education programs.

The significance of language in education cannot be understated, as it serves as the foundation for all learning processes. However, discussions around language are often sidelined and confined to specialized circles focused solely on language education. The doctoral candidate, who hails from Syria, recently shared insights from her study published in the International Journal of Education Development.

In her study, she introduces the term “linguistic discordance,” borrowed from the medical field, to describe the mismatch between the language used at home and the language of schooling.

The selection of 56 countries across six continents for the study was based on data provided by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, which highlights the discrepancy in language usage between home and school environments.

The concept of “learning poverty,” also explored in the study, pertains to the lack of basic literacy skills among children within a specific age group, particularly focusing on their ability to comprehend simple texts by age 10, inclusive of out-of-school children.

Analyzing the impact of language disparity on educational outcomes, the study reveals a strong positive correlation between linguistic discordance at the country level and the prevalence of learning poverty or low literacy rates. The difficulty arises when children are introduced to reading and writing in a language that does not align with their oral language, hindering their learning progress.

Furthermore, the study delves into the role of income disparity in educational outcomes, noting that the correlation between linguistic discordance and learning poverty is most pronounced in middle-income countries. While factors like extreme poverty and child labor may influence outcomes in low-income nations, high-income countries benefit from additional resources and training support.

Understanding these nuances underscores the importance of contextual factors in addressing educational challenges related to language barriers across diverse socioeconomic settings.