Appropriate Educational Strategies for Multilingual Schools in India Dhir Jhingran1 India is a multilingual and multi cultural country

. Co existence of many languages, many ethnic and social groups in the Indian villages have never been a problem in their socio economic and cultural development. But since the schools in Indian villages follow the state language as the medium of instruction, children from diverse language groups face language disadvantage and learning is blocked. Not only rural or tribal India, but in urban India also the multilingualism plays a vital role to address the children of diverse group in schools. The methodology followed in almost all government schools in India is one of monolingual submersion-teaching through an unfamiliar , second language from the first day at school, with no effect to make the in put comprehensible to children who come from a different language background. There is also no effort to develop the children’s first language. This is definitely the most inappropriate methodology for such situation. The ideal strategy from the point of view of the child’s social, affective and cognitive development, would be instruction in the first language till as late a stage as possible. The educational policy should support late exit transitional bilingual programme which provide initial instruction in L1 followed by and L2 fore instruction till the end of the primary stage. There are four non-negotiable for education programmes.These are I. II. III. IV. Development of the children’s first language should be promoted. Textual materials and classroom transaction in the second language should be in a form that is comprehensible to the children at every stage Teachers should be bilingual, i.e. have fluency in the children’s first language as well as the language that is being used as medium of instruction in the later stage. Use of appropriate first and second language teaching methods.

Factors to be considered for framing educational strategies: The language situations in schools are very diverse in various part of India as well as with in a state or even a district. Therefore a range of approaches would be necessary to address the needs of children who are presently studying in a language that is different from their first language. These are i. Distance of the children’s first language from the school language ii.Status of child’s home language in the society iii. The motivation of the children, parents and society for the learning of second language


Mr Dhir Jhingran is belong to Indian Administrative Service presently Director of Room to Read, South Asia Region New Delhi

iv. The socioeconomic and literacy status of the social group and the exposure to the standard language v. Multilingual or mixed language background situation at school Mother tongue Instruction in Indian Context Apprehending the multilingual situation in India, some apprehend that, India has too many languages and it would never be possible to introduce Mother tongue instruction in so many languages. But, Papua New Guinea has maintained 400 languages as the medium of instruction in primary stage. Countries like New Zealand, Ethopia, Bolivia and many other countries have established the multilingual education as the programme strategy for equitable quality education. Based on the linguistic diversities and language distribution in the society, it may be inferred that, four kind of approaches would be necessary to address the children’s first language issues These are a. For areas / schools where the children’s first language is a well developed language that is being used as a medium of instruction elsewhere; b.For areas/schools where the children’s first language is a dialect of the main state language ( whose standard dialect is used as the medium of instruction in the schools); c.For areas / schools where the children’s first language is a very different language that is unwritten and needs to be elaborated and standardized,. And d. For areas /schools with a multilingual situation Each of these categories of approaches would include a verities of strategies based on various situations. How ever, provision of language use for instruction in the schools is not enough. 1. Early Child hood Education (ECE) The most important issues to be addressed in using home language of the children is Early Child Education (ECE). While education for 6-14 years old children has now been enshrined as a Fundamental Right, there is no provision for making quality pre school education for 3-6 years old children –free compulsory and universally available. At present in India, the biggest pre school programme is implemented through the early childhood education ( ECE) components of the Integrated Child Development Programme ( ICDS) scheme through the Anganwadi centers. Almost all the successful strategies for education of children belonging to minority language speaking background across the world includes 2-3 years of pre school education that focuses, among other aspects, on the development of oral skills in the first language. At present, while in the states like Andhra Pradesh and Orissa while children’s mother tongue / home language /first language is used in primary stage, pre school children are

deprived of their language in the ECE centers. This facilities need to be expanded to the ECE where children would have the access to their home language. 2. Appropriate Language teaching methods in early grades: A drastic overhaul of language teaching methods in the early grades is an absolute pre requisite for ensuring a good foundation in the first language and a successful transition to the second language.Languague learning does not occur as a result of instructions about the rules of language , or through repetitive, rote memorization drills. The teaching of second language , should be initiated in a communicative , conversational mode and should be provide enough opportunities for meaningful interaction in that language. This is possible when the teachers are trained on language acquisition skill children with demonstration in the classrooms. Unfortunately our pre service training curricula are usually modeled on the bachelor of education syllabus where the acquisition of language in primary stage is not discussed. Sensitization of teachers and educational system on diversity in the classrooms: The pre service and in service training programme for teachers do not prepare them for the culturally and linguistically diverse nature of classroom. Apart from the issue of attitudinal orientation that respect diversities among children, educationists and teachers need to understand the need for using strategies appropriate for children who belong to communities with a predominantly oral tradition and a culture vastly different from the mainstream community. In identified areas, training of teachers should include a component of developing an understanding of tribal culture and knowledge system. Children’s first language as additional subjects: In some states, in response to the demand from associations and political leadership of ethno- linguistic minorities certain mother tongues have been introduced as language subjects from grade 3 to 5. This has been done more to appease the communities than as a solution to the language problem faced by the children speaking these mother tongues. In fact, the additional subject, if it is taught at all, only adds to the children’s burden. Since the first language is not introduced in grade I , the children continue to learn the content in an unfamiliar second language . Often the real objective of the demand by the organizations is to secure the employment of some youth as teachers for the teaching of the mother tongue subject. Once a few teachers of the community have been recruited, the representative organization and the state educational administration quickly forget the objective of mitigating the children’s burden of non- comprehension has not been addressed at all. Provision of mother tongue teachers in schools:

A significant proportion of schools in many tribal areas, where a serious language problem exists, have only one or two teachers and do not function regularly. It is always essential to provide teachers from the community so that there should not be a gap between the language of the teacher and language of the child.

Quality Improvement Activities for Languages Revision of text books, pre and in service training of teachers, and regular academic supervision are neglected or delayed for languages used as medium of instruction, other than the main state language. Very often, text books

The community should validate the use of their language in schools.

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