[MLE] MultiLila Research Project

Illustration: University of Cambridge

The project, “Multilingualism and Multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India”, is investigating under which circumstances a high quality multilingual education can be delivered in India where many children currently fail to achieve basic literacy and numeracy levels.

Through a request for consultants I recently came across 4 year research project that started in 2016 that is related to language and education. The primary initiator of this project is the University of Cambridge in the UK. It is working in collaboration with Indian agencies like the Language Learning Foundation, ASER and the British Council. One of the project investigators is professor Minati Panda of JNU.

The main research question is:"Why do some children in India not benefit from being multilingual or bilingual to the same degree as children in other ESL/EFL contexts?” Some of the for this blog relevant sub questions are:
  • Is there a relationship between basic literacy and numeracy levels and school drop-out rates on the one hand, and language of instruction and support for MT education provision on the other?
  • Is multiliteracy associated with better skills in critical thinking and problem solving when MT literacy is available?
  • Are critical thinking and problem solving skills in the medium of instruction transferred in the child’s use of English for similar tasks?
  • Do multilingual children show comparable developmental knowledge of semantic fluency, syntactic knowledge, reading and retelling skills across MT and English?
More about this project can be read on the University of Cambridge website on multilingualism and multi-literacy (note that this website is rather hard to navigate). The website also provides a link to a video on the panel discussion on the Benefits and Challenges of Multilingual Education in India. One of the speakers in that is Dr Dhir Jhingran. The presentations and discussions are worth watching.

We are looking forward to the results of this research project!