Mother tongue, culture lessons, and immigrant children: basis for intercultural dialogue in Slovene primary school? Marijanca Ajša Vižintin
Summary: Immigrant children in Slovene primary schools have had the right to their mother tongue and culture lessons since 1996 and the right to a course in Slovene since 2007. Intercultural dialogue should be put into effect in schools for the open and respectful exchange of opinion among individuals and groups of different ethnic, cultural, religious and language backgrounds, where knowledge of language is of crucial importance. Because the adoption of a mother tongue by immigrant children is interrupted, it is necessary to address the mother tongue more systematically. To achieve successful inclusion in one’s society, it is important to learn the language of the new environment; Slovenia faces a lack of didactic material to teach Slovene as children’s second language. From 2007 to 2009 about 200 Slovene schools asked the Ministry of Education and Sports to finance the teaching of Slovene as a second language every year, but in the school year 2008/09 only eight schools offered their mother tongue and culture lessons to immigrant children. In previous years, there had been even fewer. These eight schools were sent a questionnaire asking questions about mother tongue and culture lectures to immigrant children, lectures of Slovene as a second language and other forms of intercultural dialogue development at school. Investigation has found only three schools in Slovenia that took part in the research are of the opinion that the preservation of the mother tongue and culture are an important part of intercultural dialogue.