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, January 23, 2018
Monday, November 30, 2015
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."
Saturday, May 16, 2015
Friday, March 23, 2012
The British Council, as well as some US agencies, are active in south Asia and other places promoting the use of the English language in the classroom. A recent article by Robert Phillipson in The Guardian titled "Linguistic imperialism alive and kicking" is criticising this as "undermining multilingualism and education opportunities". Some quotes:
The myth is the belief that studying English is all you need for success in life. Policies influenced by this myth prevent most children from accessing relevant education.
Is Anglo-American expertise really relevant in all such contexts? In fact educational "aid" worldwide does not have a strong record of success. There is scholarly evidence, for instance from Spain, that primary English is not an unmitigated success story: quite the opposite.
Governments have tended to clutch at a quick fix, such as importing native speakers, or starting English ever earlier, either as a subject or as the medium of instruction, in the hope that this will make the learning of English more effective. Such demands should be challenged by ELT when both the demand and the response are unlikely to be educationally, culturally or linguistically well-informed.
As many states in India are pushing for English, this is a very relevant debate.