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New laws in place will impact language and learning

Trans. by M.OYUNGEREL

As the law about Mongolian language became effective starting on July 1, Zuunii Medee interviewed senior researcher Dr. D.Battogtotkh from the Mongolian Institute for Education Research. 

Since I’m interviewing a Mongolian linguist, I want to ask about Mongolian language and what the importance of learning Mongolian is?

Mongolian is a very deep-rooted, melodious language. It’s a part of the Altaic language family, one of the largest independent language groups, formed from lots of different dialects, and it has  an agglutinate structure.

A person can choose anything, but there are only three things a person can’t choose in life: their mother country, their parents, and their mother language.

There’s only so much that is given to you from birth, so you can never lose these things. We have the responsibility to protect the Mongolian language’s independence, and love and develop it. The importance of learning Mongolian and the significance of protecting and developing it lies here.

 The law about Mongolian language was put into effect starting on July 1. Do all countries have laws about their mother language?

Most countries have policies about their national language, and then implement the policies according to law. Laws about the language are like a guarantee of a country’s independence, and you need language governance to exist independently, to create your own stories, culture, traditions, and intellect through your language; to store, save, develop and pass down the language in its full, pure form. 

So what’s the difference between the law about Mongolian language and the law about the official state language?

The law about the Mongolian language, adopted on February 12 by Parliament, is different, as it solves issues related to public language in every field of society. The law of 2003 was implemented on a very small scale, as it only applied to formal relations. This new law is unique because it guides everyone and everything, such as citizens, private and state corporations, and foreigners living in Mongolia, on how to correctly use, develop, save, and protect the Mongolian language.

Also, we included the simultaneous use of Cyrillic and Mongolian traditional writing, and how to teach them, with dates set for new regulations.

For example, we’re going to use Cyrillic and Mongolian traditional writing together on official documents until 2025, and after 2025, we are to use Mongolian traditional writing only for formal relations. By pointing out these dates, it will help people start learning Mongolian traditional writing earlier. 

You work in the education industry. How will this law be implemented in elementary schools and high schools? 

We’re giving Mongolian language exams early to high school graduates. If you see the results of the general entrance exam, 85 percent of students pass the exam, meaning that they got scores above 400.

The students who don’t pass take it a month later and pass. In the future, 40 percent of the Mongolian language exam will be dedicated to traditional writing. So you see, we’re concentrating more on traditional writing lessons and we definitely have to increase its usage. 

Sixth to 12th graders have to learn Mongolian traditional writing according to the law. Can you prepare a new academic curriculum for a traditional writing class before September 1?

Our group producing a traditional writing curriculum and syllabus, as assigned by the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (MECS), made the syllabus for 6th to 12th grade traditional writing lessons and managed to have the classes become part of their programs for two hours a week. This system will start in the beginning of the second semester. We got our curriculum for 6th to 12th grade classes approved and sent the book “Mongolian Traditional Writing – Teacher’s Book” for printing.

With this curriculum, students will be able to read and write fluently in traditional writing, increasing the usage and mastery of traditional writing among citizens. 

There’s talk about a Mongolian language examination for state service workers. How will it be taken? 

Along with the vocational trade test, we’re going to have people applying for state service positions to write an essay in Mongolian, and then evaluate their total score. Then we can evaluate whether that person can express themselves; if they have language, ethics, and aesthetics knowledge; as well as their ability to spell correctly and whether they have good  penmanship.

 I’ve also heard that you’re talking about translating scientific terms and foreign words into Mongolian. Can you elaborate on this?

In this time of globalization, we are learning many new scientific and foreign terms every day. By not translating these foreign words and using them every day, we are polluting the language. Therefore, it’s important to translate these words and keep the vocabulary pure, not get hit by the globalization wave, and protect the mother language. In clause number two of the law about Mongolian language, we stated, “In all stages of learning and in research work, all scientific terms should be translated to Mongolian.”

We need to collaborate with scientists from different fields and print different types of dictionaries: one that translates foreign terms and scientific words, one that decides for sure how to write every word in Cyrillic and in traditional writing, and another one that shows how vast the Mongolian vocabulary is. The Institute of Language and Literature and the National Council of Language Policy (NCLP) of the President are in charge of writing and printing these types of dictionaries.

 Is there an organization to monitor the implementation of this law?

The NCLP will monitor the implementation of the law. The NCLP will consist of nine people, including representatives from news agencies, education, culture and scientific professionals, and Mongolian linguists. The chief negotiator will be appointed from among the members and will be chosen every three years.

Because a national council is in charge of the language policy, we will know who is responsible. When the previous law was violated, it was uncertain who was responsible for monitoring it and making sure the law was followed. 

Many organizations in Mongolia have foreign names. Will these names be changed in accordance with this law?

We don’t have to change the names of old and active organizations. Because it might negatively affect partnerships, international relations, and the economic circulation of the organization. We will leave their names as before. But if new state and private corporations and economic entities are established, they must be named in Mongolian. Any legal body which violates this law will be held responsible. 

How is MECS supporting this?

We put a “Secular Education” class in the curricula of 1st to 12th graders, by order of a presidential decree, starting last year. Half of the syllabus of this class is to teach Mongolian traditions, wisdom, and morals, and the other half is about the roles and rights of a citizen.

In the “Book” program, we’re building class and school libraries, providing them with scientific, books and other books of interest.

A child who reads books can automatically write without spelling errors, even if they weren’t taught how to spell, because the words are processed while they read. Our “Book” and “Talent” programs are being successfully organized all around the country, creating educated, moral, humane, virtuous, and “Right Mongolian” citizens. 

How will this law affect the development of a Mongolian person?

The social roles of the national language will increase, and the use and ethics of the Mongolian language will improve. It will shape patriotic citizens who prefer their mother tongue over other languages, who are proud of their language and the history and culture created with that language.

When Mongolian language training improves in all areas of education, children’s language ethics and their social relations will become more developed, people will become more humane and will think in Mongolian, and be able to spell and arrange their words correctly. Also, they will learn about every subject in their mother tongue. You know the saying: “Mother language is the key to virtue.”

 

 

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Posted by on Jul 28 2015. Filed under Prime Interview. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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