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Language Preference in Urdu

Language Preference in Urdu

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03/18/2014

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LANGUAGE PREFERENCE OF URDU SPEAKERS
IN EDUCATION
A Sociolinguistic Survey
Omkar N. Koul
Indian Institute of Language Studies
Introduction

Language has primarily two roles in education: (i) language as a subject of study, and (ii) language as medium of instruction. The choice of language as a subject of study and the choice of language as a medium of instruction is directly related to language empowerment, and the status and prestige of the language determined by various socio-economic, cultural and political factors. It is important to study the language preferences from different points of view. One has to find out the reasons for making the choice, aims and objectives of language education and medium of instruction by eliciting the views of the students, parents, potential employers, teachers, educationsts etc. Keeping in view the dominant multilingual situation in India and the education policy of the country, it is difficult to conduct a survey of the language preferences of a speech community which is spread all over India. Here an attempt is made to present the results of a sample survey of the speech community who claim the mother tongue speakers of Urdu and reside in Delhi. This study is restricted to a sample size of about 50 students, 30 parents which speak Urdu as their mother tongue and 20 employers of different categories situated in and around Delhi. Special care has been taken in selecting the sample so that it is as varied as possible representing various socio-economic groups of respondents.

The Data
Questionnaire 1

The questionnaire I meant for students sought information regarding the name and address, state class or standard, age-group, mother tongue and other languages known, languages studied at different levels, medium of instruction used at different levels, language proficiency the language they like the best and the one they like the least, languages used for obtaining technical and professional information and finally what kind of job/profession they would like to take up after

completing their

schooling/education. The information about names and address, classes they study in and the age groups in not collated. A special effort was made in selecting students from various categories of classes and age groups and respondents belonging to both sexes. This information is not considered relevant for the present report.

Urdu is an Indo-Aryan language primarily spoken as a mother tongue in seven Indian states namely Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi. It is spoken different pockets all over India. The data from the mother tongue speakers of Urdu was collected from Delhi. The mother tongue speakers of Urdu have reported knowing other languages as follows:

English
Hindi
Punjabi
Persian
80%
80%
10%
10%
Languages studied at different levels
Primary
Middle
High/Hr.
Sec
College
Urdu
80%
60%
40%
20%
Hindi
40%
40%
60%
20%
English
60%
100%
100%
80%
Persian
-
20%
20%
-
Medium of Instruction
Urdu
30%
30%
30%
10%
Hindi
30%
30%
30%
10%
English
40%
40%
40%
80%
Language proficiency
The respondents have reported their proficiency in the language
skills of different languages as follows:
Understand
Speak Read Write
Urdu
100%
100% 100% 100%
English
100%
100% 100% 100%
Hindi
80%
80% 40% 40%
Punjabi
20%
20% -
-
Persian
10%-
-
10% 10%

It shows that all the respondents are bilinguals in Urdu and English . Most of them are trilinguals in Urdu, Hindi and English. Some of them are familiar with Punjabi and Persian as well.

Though none of them has studied Punjabi as a subject in school and have acquired its oral skills from the environment in the language contact situation. 80% of the respondents claim that they understand and speak Hindi, only 40% can read and write it. By knowing Hindi would mean their familiarity with vocabulary in speech. 10% of them have studied Persian in their schools.

Language Attitude

There were different responses in reply to the question of which language they like the best and which one the least. 80% state that they like Urdu as the best as it is their mother tongue; it has been the language of their education; it has a rich literature etc. 20% respondents consider English the best as it is used widely in information technology; it helps to get jobs; it is an international language etc. Most of them have avoided replying the second part of the question to state which language they like the least.

Language used/preferred in Mass media

The respondents were asked to list the languages in which they read newspapers, listen to radio programmes, and watch TV programmes and films. According to the response at least two languages are used/preferred by the respondents in these domains. The response is given below:

Urdu
Hindi
English
Newspapers 50%
20%
80%
Radio
80%
50%
10%
TV
60%
60%
20%
Films
80%
80%
20%-
Reading for pleasure and for obtaining technical/professional
information

The respondents were asked to indicate the language in which they read for deriving pleasure. The response has been primarily in favour of Urdu. 70% read in Urdu, 10% read in Hindi and 20% in English for pleasure. The response was reverse for the language they read in for obtaining technical/professional information. 90% say that they read in English and 10% said they read in Urdu and Hindi.

Job preferences

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