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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
May 2024
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
Read more about our selection process

Implementation steps

How to become a Language Friendly School - Step 1
Consider with your entire school team what language friendly activities you are already doing and what you would like to do in the near future. Look for inspiration at our Roadmap, which also indicates the minimum requirements to become a Language Friendly School:
Step 2 - Complete the registration form
Complete the registration form on our website to indicate your interest in becoming a Language Friendly School:
Step 4 - Internal Review, Contract and Payment of Membership Fee
After a positive internal review, your school is sent an agreement with the Rutu Foundation. Once the agreement is signed and the membership fees are paid, your school receives the Language Friendly School certificate.
Step 3 - Meeting with school leadership
After an internal review you are invited for a meeting with your school leadership.
Step 5 - Make your own Language Friendly School Plan
As a member you now start your 2 year journey to develop, implement and evaluate your own language friendly school plan. Decide on your priorities for the longer and short term and appoint a Language Friendly School coordinator who will be our contact person.
Step 6 - Implement your plan
While implementing your plan, you can take advantage of our online Toolkit of Language Friendly Activities, 3 online Network Meetings per year, a newsletter and twice a year a 60 minute one-on-one meeting with experts of the LFS team to discuss your progress. Members also receive a 5% reduction on any courses and workshops you would like to follow.
Step 7 - Share your ideas and strategies!
All schools are invited to share their ideas and strategies that they are using to make their school more language friendly. These are uploaded on the online platform so all schools benefit from the innovations developed at various schools around the world.

Spread of the innovation

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