Thursday, September 20, 2012

[MLE] Article "Linguistic Right And Language of Politics "

Dear Multilingual Education friends,

Samir Karmakar of Jadavpur University , Kolkata wrote on CounterCurrent an short article on Linguistic Right And Language of Politics. He points out through a powerful graph that even the state languages are declining. He criticises the multilingual education efforts as they still seems to promote a shift to English:
The introduction of mother tongue in the elementary education, as is proposed by different agencies, is mainly from the angle of cognitive development. In order to facilitate the young learners' cognitive development, their mother tongues are proposed to include in the language curriculum in elementary level under the assumption that, as has been pointed out by World Bank in Priorities and Strategies for Education (1995), this approach will “promote the cognitive development needed for learning a second language”. As the learner moves to the higher education, mother tongue will be gradually replaced by English only. (How innocent could be the ambush to clear the blockage in the name of “God”, “an impressive expression of the public will and without regard to partisanship”!)
He argues:
Introduction of mother tongue in the elementary education is not enough to empower the people linguistically, until and unless it's presence in the entry point to the market is assured. What is required to assure the latter one is the political and economical empowerment of All. Interestingly, not much hullaballoo on this issue!
His conclusion is:
A true multilingual approach should unleash the scope to all at every level of the tertiary educational system in India ; and this can be achieved only through the political and economical empowerment of all. If this demand sounds too much to achieve the stated goal of multilingualism we need to recognize linguistic liberty is still a distant dream even after the half decades of political independence.

Friday, September 14, 2012

[MLE] Spell well, read well, write well

Dear multilingual education friends,

The value of a working orthography is often overlooked while pursuing MLE. We often focus on the educational factors and tend to overlook the linguistics. Butch Hernandez wrote an article in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Spell well, read well, write well in which he writes that teacher want to develop learning material, but often struggle:
The problem lies in orthography, or more specifically, the absence of one for the desired mother tongue. Orthography is actually the set of spelling and writing rules that govern a particular language.
In her piece “How Spelling Supports Reading,” Louisa Moats, a literacy research and professional development expert, explains that “research has shown that learning to spell and learning to read rely on much of the same underlying knowledge—such as the relationships between letters and sounds—and, not surprisingly, that spelling instruction can be designed to help children better understand that key knowledge, resulting in better reading.”
Moats adds: “Research also bears out a strong relationship between spelling and writing: Writers who must think too hard about how to spell use up valuable cognitive resources needed for higher level aspects of composition. Even more than reading, writing is a mental juggling act that depends on automatic deployment of basic skills such as handwriting, spelling, grammar, and punctuation so that the writer can keep track of such concerns as topic, organization, word choice, and audience needs. Poor spellers may restrict what they write to words they can spell, with inevitable loss of verbal power.”

Friday, August 31, 2012

[MLE] Book on "Heritage Language Playschools"

Dear multilingual education friends,

Using the mother tongue in the anganwadis or preschools is not only done in Orissa, but also in Malaysia. Dr Karla Smith wrote a book on it titled "Heritage Language Playschools for Indigenous Minorities".

The MTB-MLE website reports:
This book contains administrative and curriculum materials that can be used to establish and operate playschool programmes for indigenous communities. Carefully sequenced steps, covering pre-planning to evaluation, outline the process of setting up a local playschool with the aid of community involvement. The content covers pre-reading, pre-writing and readiness skills and provides an abundance of practical advice, forms and ideas based on sound educational theory.

Monday, August 20, 2012

RE: [MLE] Multilingual primers for more Anganwadi Centers in Orissa

Dear multilingual education friends,

There is more news on the new developments in Odisha / Orissa. Dharitri Patnaik of the Bernard van Leer Foundation wrote the below response to last week's message. To me the best news is that he reports that the demand is coming from the tribal communities themselves: The persistent campaign by tribals from the villages to the state capital has resulted in this directive. Demands for quality curriculum in tribal languages, recruitment of tribal men and women as teachers, centres in remote tribal hamlets and involvement of communities to monitor education are all part of the campaign.  This is confirmed by some of the newspaper links. It seems that the Odisha Adivashi Mancha (OAM) has been instrumental in this endeavour. DishaDiary reports:
The OAM is currently working on details of a strategy to make the new directive effective. "We will meet the Chief Secretary again to apprise him of our plans and concerns on the directive issued," says Mandal.  "Since the government has taken a right step on our long pending demand, we are ready to engage with it to give it a proper direction," he adds.
And The Hindu:
As per the suggestion of the OAM, tribal children should get educated in their tribal mother tongue at anganwadi kendras at pre-school level.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Fwd: [MLE]Multilingual primers for more Anganwadi Centers in Orissa

Dear multilingual education friends,

Good news from Orissa. Chief Secretary Sri Bijay Kumar Patnaik has directed OPEPA to develop bilingual primers in tribal dialects for children from Class-1 to Class-III and cover all the schools having 100% monolingual tribal students. He also  directed to OPEPA to customize the Anganwadi study guide (Arunimain) in tribal languages in the context of their culture. The stories, rhymes, dance performances, folk-lores of the tribe concerned will be reflected in this. 
In another development, nine new  tribal languages have been identified for inclusion in Multi  Lingual Education programme. These languages are Gutob, Ho, Gondi, Parja,Khaira, Didayita, Chhatisgarhi Odia, Binjhal (western Odisha) and Binjhal (for Bargarh region).

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

[MLE] Report on Language in education in Nepal; with reference to MLE in India

Dear Multilingual Education friends,

The report "Language issues in Educational Policies and practices in Nepal: A critical review" draws an interesting conclusion. It builds a strong case that just doing MT for the first couple of years ("early exit") does not work. The 50 page report is published by Australian Aid.  A quote:
" ... children are not able to develop strong competence in their mother tongues until there are taught through L1 for the first 8 years as in Ethiopia. To promote quality education in Nepal, it is mandatory to promote teaching in children’s first language (be it Nepali or other local languages) for the first six years (at least) (ideally 8 years). The Ethiopian evidence shows that children learn English better when they have strong competence in their first language. "
Some other recommendations are:
  • Enough materials in local languages should be prepared before the implementation of the programme.
  • Community participation and involvement of other stakeholders should be ensured in all stages of the programme.
  • Eight-year long MTB-MLE provides a strong foundation for children’s learning and help them achieve better in all subjects including second and foreign language.
  • Decentralized decision-making process, with effective inspection and mentoring, helps for the effective implementation of the MTB-MLE. As Ethiopian case suggests there is no single uniform model of the programme in different states. It depends upon the need of the different regions.
  •  Teachers’ capacity in mother tongue teaching is one of the most important factors for making teaching and learning of MT effective

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

[MLE] Article: Multilingual Education in India: Myth and Reality

Dear Multilingual Education friends,


Samir Karmakar and Kinnari Pandya of the Azim Premji University, Bangalore published an article on Multilingual Education in India: Myth and Reality in which they plead to give more attention to the context:
Any approach towards MLE is bound to fail if the stated form of the policy lacks an understanding of what is being aspired by the population with reference to the Indian languages which is often being decided by various economical and historical factors. Therefore, understanding the linguistic culture in India becomes a must.
Very often the success and failure of a policy depends on the implicit, unofficial, unwritten, de facto aspect of what we call public opinion. Therefore, it becomes quintessential to understand the linguistic culture of the population to achieve the stated goals of the policy documents. This includes an in-depth investigation into the ideas, values, beliefs, attitudes, prejudices, myths, religious strictures, and all the cultural baggage that we bring to our dealings with language from our culture.
They argue that multilingual teaching should also be done in the higher grades:
This approach of gradual replacement of the non-dominant forms of linguistic communication by the dominant ones only widens the linguistic divide in India and will leave India as fertile ground for intolerance defeating the agenda of promoting cultural pluralism.


Since higher education is the avenue to institutional recognition and establishment, we should create opportunities of learning through the mother tongue unlike the various proposals of structural and gradual replacement of multilingualism by a monolingual world order.
A key quote is:
Success of MLE in India, then, primarily rests on mobilizing the public spheres rather than suggesting solutions only to the school teachers and government officials. More specifically, introducing MLE in India expects the involvement of parents in the dynamics of teaching-learning process.