Monday, November 30, 2015

[MLE] British Council Conference on Multilingualism

Delhi Conference on Multilingualism and Development

Last week the British Council India hosted the 11th Language and Development Conference on Multilingualism and Development in Delhi.


The Statemam  published this week an article with highlights of the conference Of course there was quite some attention given to the role that English plays in the sociolinguistic arena india. Prof Ajit Mohanty spoke in that regard about  "a double divide: one between the elitist language of power and the major regional languages (vernaculars) and, the other, between the regional languages and the dominated indigenous languages."

While talking about the promises the parents are given while enrolling their children in private English medium schools, Giridhar Rao of Azim Premji University, "argued that it is a false promise for two reasons. The first is the poor condition of the education system in the country. ... private schools do not give better academic results compared to government schools. The second reason, according to Rao, is that the introduction and teaching of English do not emerge out of a mother-tongue-based multi-lingual education."

Relevant was also a presentations  by Seemita Mohanty, National Institute of Technology, on Mother-Tongue-Based Multilingual Education in the Indian State of Odisha.. She concluded: "Even though the programme is progressing on the right track, there are still numerous issues that need to be handled at the implementation level before it can be designated a success."

Not to often we hear about the particular linguistic needs of Moslim learners. Sajida Sultana, English and Foreign Languages University, presented on Muslim Education and Multilingual Contexts: A Study of Madrasas in Hyderabad. It focused on the multi-lingual context of madrasa education and concluded that "there is a need to have a greater understanding of madrasa education and also to relate research insights into curricular innovations in the teaching of English in non-native contexts."

Many more presentation were given. The British Council website reports: "The event was the largest of the conference series so far, attracting over 260 participants and with a programme of more than sixty sessions. Over 30 countries were represented, from Afghanistan to South Africa, Bhutan to the Philippines."