Firth MacKenzie McEachern

Firth MacKenzie McEachern


he / him / his English, Ilokano, Tagalog, Spanish, Arabic


Mother tongue-based multilingual education, Linguistic diversity, Language revitalization, Language and minority rights, Language and education policy in the Global South


I grew up in Jordan, Nepal, Cambodia, Egypt, and Scotland, attended Harvard University for my bachelor’s degree (Earth Sciences & Astrophysics), and then moved to the Philippines working for a Canadian NGO and local government on sustainable development programs. While in the Philippines, I fell in love (literally!) with the Ilokano language and the country’s rich linguistic diversity. Thru a combination of proaction, demand, and luck, I ended up shifting to help the local government in language policy, planning, and implementation. We crafted the country’s first provincial legislation giving official status to a local language (Ilokano), incorporating in government services and education, and promoting it in media, commerce, and other sectors in a multilingual framework. I also got involved in national legislation on MTBMLE, whereby 19 additional native languages were included in the education system. After this, I worked as a consultant for the Southeast Asian Ministers of Education, and during the pandemic as a teacher in Colombia! Most recently, I have been assisting the Shan ethnic group in Myanmar/Thailand on curriculum development. These experiences have inspired me to research and support fair, inclusive, and effective language policies and practices in diverse, low-resource contexts. I believe education and linguistic diversity are compatible, and extremely important for humanity’s future.