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Language Friendly School

By allowing students’ home languages in school, multilingual students get the chance to strengthen their cognitive and social skills.

A Language Friendly School is an answer to the increasing multilingualism present in schools across the world; a result of people migrating to other places seeking employment, reuniting with loved ones or escaping war and conflict. Within a Language Friendly School, everyone welcomes and values all languages spoken by the students, the parents and the school stakeholders. Join us in our mission and let’s make the world a language friendlier place: one school at a time.

Bilingual Education


HundrED has selected this innovation to

Bilingual Education

Web presence






Target group
January 2023
ALL children should be valued for who they are. They should feel safe, be able to express their views, and be successful in their learning.

About the innovation

Welcoming all languages!

A Language Friendly School is a school where all languages spoken by the pupils are welcomed and valued.

A Language Friendly School is a bottom up whole school approach. There is noblue print of what schools must do. Rather it starts with what schools need and what they can realistically accomplish. Also, it expressly targets all the stakeholders: school managers, teachers but also parents and especially children.

At the very minimum, schools commit not to punish children speaking their mother tongue. For some schools this is already a significant step. By connecting with other Language Friendly Schools they can share good practices and teachers can be inspired to take a next step forward.

OurRoadmapprovides ideas for activities as a school and in the classroom.

Whyshould your school become a Language Friendly School?

There are many benefits associated with an education that takes into account children’s mother tongues or home languages:

  • Children learn better and faster in a language they can understand

  • They enjoy school more, they feel more at home

  • Childrentend to show increased self-esteem

  • Parents participation is increased

  • Studies have reported that when children take advantage of their multilingualism they also enjoy higher socioeconomic status, including higher earnings

  • On average, the schools perform better, reporting less repetition

  • Finally, schools report children stay in school longer.

By joining the network of Language Friendly Schools you become part of a global community of teachers, parents and community leaders who value the cultural and linguistic diversity of our children. You will have access to innovative ways of supporting multilingual children and providing them with the best opportunities to achieve their educational goals.

With the Language Friendly School, we envision a world in which no child is punished for speaking his or her mother tongues in school by 2030, the deadline of the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Language Friendly School is an initiative of theRutu Foundation for Intercultural Multilingual Education, a non-profit organization based in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The Language Friendly School is endorsed by Prof. Dr. Jim Cummins.

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Language Friendly School addresses a clear need to encourage and promote multilingualism and the diversity of their community. Working at a school-wide level ensures the sustainability and success of the model as there is a collective mindset. This can be adapted and scaled around the world.

HundrED Academy Reviews

Absolutely needed innovation in all the corners of the world. As the innovation takes small steps towards better understanding of linguistic diversity in the schools, I think that this could be easily used in many contexts.

This innovation is scalable because it is not connected to any definite languages, but is rather a model of a whole-school approach to multilingualism and respect to different languages.

- Academy member
Academy review results
High Impact
Low Scalability
High Impact
High Scalability
Low Impact
Low Scalability
Low Impact
High Scalability
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps

How to become a Language Friendly School
Step 1: Register via the Language Friendly School website
Step 2: Indicate what your team is already doing and what your ambitions are to become (more) language friendly.
Step 3: After an internal review: we meet with the school leader to ensure full commitment of the language friendly school-approach.
Step 4: After signing an agreement with the Rutu Foundation and payment of the membership fees, the school is issued a membership certificate and may take advantage of all membership benefits.

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