Monday, January 16, 2012

[MLE] People’s Linguistic Survey of India Conference

Dear multilingual education friends,

Earlier this months the People's Linguistic Survey of India  (PLSI) conference took place. 900 delegates from all over the world gathered in Baroda to celebrate the progress on survey.

A quote from the Lit-Ityadi report
Anyone familiar with George Grierson's historic work, the Linguistic Survey of India, compiled nearly 100 years ago, will immediately note the similarities. What is different however, about the PLSI, is the notion of networking, now made by possible by modern methods of communication, that enables adivasi people from Orissa to dance shoulder to shoulder with Bhili tribesmen from Gujarat. This sense of solidarity was felt, not only between the Indian delegates, but also internationally as we heard from indigenous people from Papua New Guinea and various parts of Africa.
A quote from the Times of India report
This is a survey of languages by persons belonging to the language community. We have used a 'minimum format' for the non-scheduled languages. It includes features like name, location and local history of the languages; some samples of songs and stories, kinship terms and nominal grammar. For the scheduled languages the entries are very elaborate - almost a book length for every language. The 12 volumes that are ready run into about 6,000 pages. The completed work in 42 volumes will have about 20,000 printed pages. The work is done with the help of a large team of nearly 1,800 persons and a large multi-disciplinary National Editorial Collective of scholars.
The Daily News Analyses report gave their article a positive heading: "Tribal Languages are not dying":
If you thought that the number of people speaking the languages used by tribes, nomads and de-notified tribes of India was falling with every generation, then you are in for a surprise. A survey of People's Linguistic Survey of India (PLSI) conducted by tribal activist and linguist, Dr Ganesh Devy, reveals that the number of languages considered weak had fallen. This indicates that the so-called 'weak languages' had actually a large number of speakers.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

[MLE] Book from Prime Minister of Singapore on bilingualism

Dear MLE friends,

It is not often that top politicians write elaborately about issues related to multilingualism. Lee Kuan Yew the former prime minister of Singapore published recently "My lifelong challenge: Singapore's bilingual journey". He has been strong advocate of maintaining Chinese and other mother tongues within the schools in Singapore while still making English the mainstream language.


Some quotes from a Asia One newspaper review:
My Lifelong Challenge is the story of Mr Lee Kuan Yew's 50-year struggle to transform Singapore from a polyglot former British colony into a united nation where everyone, while knowing English, knows at least one other language, his own mother tongue. The founding prime minister of Singapore tells why he did away with vernacular schools in spite of violent political resistance, why he closed Nanyang University, why he later started Special Assistance Plan schools, and why he continues to urge all ethnic Chinese Singaporeans today to learn the Chinese language.
Mr Patrick Daniel, Editor-in-Chief of Singapore Press Holdings' English and Malay Newspapers Division, said: "This book recounts an important facet of Singapore's history. It contains insights, borne of experience, about the challenge of ensuring that each community preserves its own language and culture in a multiracial nation, while adopting English as the working language. It comes at an opportune moment too, as the world sees its centre of gravity shifting from West to East. I am glad that The Straits Times has had a part in bringing out this book."

In Singapore, former senior minister of state for community development Ch'ng Jit Koon said: "To this day, some people do not approve of the bilingual policy as a foundation stone of the nation. This book describes fully, accurately and clearly the background to these policies, helping us to understand why he did what he did. Whether the bilingual policy is right or wrong, history will be the judge. But if he had not done what he did, our country would not be what it is today."

[MLE] The blog is celebrating its first birthday!


Dear multilingual education friends,
The MLE India webblog is celebrating its first birthday! A good excuse for giving it a easier URL www.mle-india.net and a facelift: have look at the new lay-out.
The site is more than just a list of the postings on the MLE mailing list. It also has the following pages:

      • MLE Related Projects: An overview of multilingual education related projects in India

      • MLE Related Books : An overview of written resources related to multilingual education with relevance to India

      • MLE Related Policies: Relevant sections from the Indian constitution, the National Curriculum Framework and the Right to Education Act.

      • MLE related Courses & Events : Courses and workshops offered in this region on multilingual education

Friday, December 23, 2011

[MLE] Language, the basis of unity and conflict

Dear MLE friends,

A while ago I travelled with a donor to review an MLE related project in North East India. Her concern was that our efforts to develop the local languages and use them in the schools would encourage the ethnic conflicts. Today I saw an IBN article titled "Language, the basis of unity and conflict" by Prof H S Shivaprakash on this very issue. 

A few quotes:

Language, as one of the most pre-eminent expressions of human civilisation, has always been the source of unity and conflict in human history. There have been times when the unity of diverse peoples was imposed by existing forms of tyranny as in the case of Roman Civilisation. Equally numerous are the cases when language question figured prominently as a means of self-assertion as exemplified by the emergence of Bangladeshi and Ukrainian nationalism in the recent past.

India never had the counterpart of the first Chinese emperor [who wiped out all local languages -KvR]. Though at different points of time, some languages were used as lingua franca or trans-regional languages - Sanskrit, for example - the regional languages, including innumerable tribal languages without script not only did not vanish but went on flourishing as they produced high quality literary expressions, both oral and written.

Let us celebrate the diversity of our tongues, which is a hallmark of our civilisational genius. In order to offset eruptions of linguistic chauvinism, we need to reinvigorate multilingualism which has been an integral part of our culture. At the same time, we need to emphasise the need for equal growth of regions and communities to ensure the equality of languages.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

[MLE] NMRC Newsletter; Results of longitudinal study

Dear MLE friends,

Once again the JNU National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium (NMRC) has brought out a high quality newsletter. The main topic is the outcome of a longitudinal research spanning over the last three years done in Orissa and AP: "DOES MLE WORK IN ANDHRA PRADESH & ODISHA? A LONGITUDINAL STUDY"

Some quotes:
"To sum up, the findings across the two states and five time frames, it can be pointed out that in case of both Andhra Pradesh and Odisha,the MLE children had better overall performance in all the objective measures of achievement taken together; MANOVA analyses for the state specific data over the five time-frames showed clearly that the performance of the MLE children was significantly better than that of their non-MLE counterparts when all the variables are taken together." (P13)

"All the MLE teachers interviewed (except one) expressed that mother tongue of the child was ideal medium of instruction at the primary
level since it would help students relate better to what was being taught and also remove any fear and inhibitions that they might experience in the schools. " (P15)

"The dominant sentiment of the tribal communities was a pragmatic targeting development of children's competence in the state language in both the states. However, because of MLE experience, many parents were changing their views and were favouring the decision that early education should be done in children's mother tongue. Parents whose children go to MLE schools were considerably more satisfied with their
children's learning in school though they continued to have some anxiety towards late introduction of regional language in this new curriculum." (P22)


Monday, December 19, 2011

[MLE] The outcome of the ASER Study in relation to Home-School language

Dear MLE Friends,

ASER Centre recently released Inside Primary Schools: A study of teaching and learning in rural India. Supported by UNICEF and UNESCO, this longitudinal study tracked 30,000 rural children studying in Std 2 and Std 4 in 900 schools across five states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, and Rajasthan). These children, their classes, schools and families were tracked over a period of 15 months (2009-2010) in order to take a comprehensive look at the factors in the school, in the classroom and in the family that correlate with children’s learning outcomes. (See a summary of the outcomes below)

They also studied the difference between children whose home language is the same with children with a different home language. It makes clear that this indeed makes an impact on learning of the children. A quote:

Children whose home language is different from the school medium of instruction face enormous additional problems at school. Given the lack of bridging mechanisms to enable a smooth transition from one language to the other, these children tend to attend school far less regularly.  Whereas across both classes, about half of all children whose home language was the same as the school language were present in school on all  three visits, this proportion is far lower among children whose home language was different from the school language (Table 6.14). Learning outcomes for these two groups of children are unequal to begin with and these differences accentuate over the course of one year, both in Std 2 and in Std 4. (P 69)
The table attached shows  some relevant findings too. It  would be interesting to connect this data to drop-out rates too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

[MLE] New MTB-MLE International network website

Dear MLE friends,

A new MLE focussed international website has been set up that is certainly worth adding to your favourites: http://www.mlenetwork.org/

I enjoyed an article (with a nice 15 minute video) on the Lango Literacy project in Uganda. The Resource Basket has 7 subtopics with lots of articles. I e.g. clicked on "Policy" and found about 15 articles on the topic. There is also a way to submit new articles yourself.

Of course there is an events calender and there is a forum for discussions. I would recommend to subscribe to the website (Right hand corner) so that you have more privileges, can join in focus groups and get updates send to you.