Friday, October 12, 2012

[MLE] Bilingualism benefits


Dear Multilingual Education friends,

A recent study from Europe is showing that Children from low income families benefit from being bilingual. NALDIC (National Association for Language Development in the Curriculum) based in England highlights an interesting study on this topic in their website (http://www.naldic.org.uk/eal-advocacy/eal-news-summary/200912?dm_i=11M1,Z16E,7M1CX5,2XSTQ,1 ). Quote:
This is the first study to show that, although they may face linguistic challenges, minority bilingual children from low-income families demonstrate important strengths in other cognitive domains.....Our study suggests that intervention programs that are based on second language teaching are a fruitful avenue for future research” says Engel de Abreu.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

[MLE]: The Hindu: Let a hundred tongues be heard

Dear multilingual Education friends,

Shrimps back gets broken when whales fight. This is an idiom from Korean, meaning when there is fighting between powerful men, weak people could be a scapegoat of the fighting unless they are very careful. This metaphor seems to fit well in this big fighting between English and Hindi and many other local languages which could be scapegoats of this fighting. The English whale seems to be winning the game as there are scare materials available in Hindi for tertiary level education in Delhi and even many government schools in Karnataka will use English as a medium to compete with English medium private schools. Sumanyu Satpathy, linguist at the University of Delhi, wrote an article on it in the Hindu. A few quotes:
“The domination of English and Hindi is turning Indian education and culture into a depressingly monolingual affair.”
“If you live in any of the Hindi-speaking States, it is likely that every other day you would hear of debates about the future of Hindi. Naturally, the spectacular rise of Hindi is not often talked about in these quarters as a threat to the linguistic diversity in India,”
“the Odisha government has announced that English medium public schools will be set up in three tribal districts in the State. This is going to prove disastrous for the linguistic ecology of India, and consequently for the local cultures.”
 “not an insignificant number of students in premier departments and colleges in Delhi University complain of the dearth of textbook material in Hindi. Elsewhere in India, higher education is also officially available in both English and the State language; but the production of textbooks in the local language is awfully impoverished.”
 “The argument here is not about banning English medium schools; far from it. It is, rather, for strengthening local-language-medium schools, improving their pedagogic tools, and for generating opportunities in the local markets on a par with the globalised market for a healthy linguistic diversity.”

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).