Wednesday, February 28, 2018

[MLE] Celebrations and Articles on Intl Mother Language Day

International Mother Language Day celebrations. Source: AP

Last week, on the International Mother Language Day, I happened to be in Bangkok and was able to participate in a celebration that the Bangladesh Embassy together with UNESCO had organised. There was good representation from India and certainly not the only place where the topic of language was discussed.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

[MLE] Research report on the Use of English in Classrooms

In India low-cost private English medium schools are growing in popularity and in Ghana an early exit, transitional bilingual education model is promoted. The British Council, together with other institutions, did research at the classroom level in these countries on what this means for the learning of the children. The findings are worth considering with as key question: How to avoid damage to learning when teaching is through English?

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

[MLE] Book on Multilingual India and the women in the Kumaun in particular

Grassroot level research is rare. Dr Cynthia Groff lived for months with girls in a hostel in the Kumaun area of Uttarakhand (North India) and researched how the local language is used in different settings. Her PhD research has now resulted in a book: The Ecology of Language in Multilingual India: Voices of Women and Educators in the Himalayan Foothills.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

[MLE] Is multilingual education encouraging violence or peace?

Expert panel in debate.  Photo by Natalie Lovenburg

While visiting government officials I have often come across the assumption that multilingual education would foster separation movements and therefore violence. Recently a panel called "Linguistic tolerance as a tool for resiliency in multilingual societies against violence and radicalization" addressed this issue. As this is also relevant for India I post the reference here.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

[MLE] Textbooks in 5 tribal languages released


Last month textbooks in 5 tribal languages and 2 regional languages were released by the government of Jharkhand. They have been distributed to around 1,000 schools in 8 districts for initiating the Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education programme in Jharkhand.

The languages covered by this initiative are the Santhali, Mundari, Ho, Kurukh and Kharia tribal languages and the Odia and Bangla regional languages. A six-minute video clip was made for the occasion. It pictures a tribal boy who is sad because he feels alienated from the school and other children as he does not speak Hindi. He is crying and does not want to go to school any more. Then his mother talks with the school leadership and things start changing as they allow the tribal language to be used in the school. The clip also contains several short interviews with teachers, and we get a glimpse into how the new textbooks are used. The clip is in Hindi.

Monday, March 20, 2017

[MLE] Positive Research Results East Timor

We are often asked for research evidence with regards to the impact of MLE. Even though the below write up is not on a project in India, it seems to have enough similarity to make it relevant to take note of. The Endline survey of the pilot is showing that MLE children do better in particularly reading.

In the article Building bridges through multilingual schooling: a mother-tongue pilot in East Timor is showing the way, Kerry Taylor-leech writes with enthusiasm about the classes she observed. “The children love it and I too am enjoying myself immensely.”. About the evaluation report she states:
the survey compared children’s performance in EMBLI schools, government schools and Portuguese-immersion schools. Not surprisingly, the results show the benefits of learning in a language a child understands best. EMBLI children showed marked gains compared to the other children, especially in reading

[MLE] Mother Language day - Updates and Resources

International Mother Language Day 2017 (Image source-

In the week of the International Mother Language Day there are usually extra postings related to language and education. Particularly because this year the theme is: “Towards Sustainable Futures through Multilingual Education”. It is also a good excuse to list a few (new) resources.

The postings in the India Express and India Today are quite general in nature with some quotations from Unesco and background on the history of the day. WebIndia reports that activist used the day to demand linguistic parity for the regional languages. Chanpreet Kaur published an interview with Dr Mukti Sanyal on How the focus on English could be seriously damaging India's future with an interesting link to self-esteem: “We are losing our mother languages. And with it, we are losing self esteem, different ways of seeing the world, and encouraging the mugging up of the concepts”. used the opportunity to dig into history: Which 'mother language' did India's lawmakers want after Independence? A nice news item is that the goverment of Bengal gave Kurukh language an official status and a promise that Rajbangshi/Kamtapuri will also be given that status.