Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Multilingual education in India report coming in July 2018

The "early research findings" of the language and literacy project MultiLila will be announced and discussed in a two-day seminar in New Delhi in July 2018. The project's formal title is Multilingualism and Multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India. This four-year UK-India project with its extensive, multidisciplinary network of partners (including institutions and people we have met often in this blog) began in 2016. Its primary question is "Why do some children in India not benefit from being multilingual or bilingual to the same degree as children in other ESL/EFL contexts?" (ESL is English as a Second Language, and EFL is English as a Foreign Language.)

As Mukhopadhyay (see below) notes, the project covers:
  • 1200 children in 4th standard [i. e. 10-year-olds] to be tested at two time points (4th and 5th standard)
  • 800 children living in urban areas in Delhi and Hyderabad (200 in slums, 200 in non-slums)
  • 400 children living in rural areas in Bihar-Patna (200 in semi-urban, 200 in urban areas)
  • Average ability children, no history of learning disabilities
  • No children from upper end of middle class or above
Some of the other questions the project asks are:
  • Is there a relationship between basic literacy and numeracy levels and school drop-out rates on the one hand, and language of instruction and support for MT education provision on the other?
  • Is multiliteracy associated with better skills in critical thinking and problem solving when MT literacy is available?
  • Are critical thinking and problem solving skills in the medium of instruction transferred in the child’s use of English for similar tasks?
  • Do multilingual children show comparable developmental knowledge of semantic fluency, syntactic knowledge, reading and retelling skills across MT and English?
One of the project's co-investigators, Lina Mukhopadhyay, amplified some of the objectives in the Language and Development Conference in 2017 (PDF):
  • To explore how the complex dynamics of social, economic and geographical contexts affect the delivery of quality of multilingual education in India.
  • To investigate how educational policy regarding the role of mother-tongue education (the three language formula) is implemented in schools, and how the language(s) of instruction impact on learning outcomes in basic literacy and numeracy but also higher level literacy skills expressed through critical thinking and problem solving in the language of education and in the development of English as a second language.
  • To evaluate how negative consequences of [structural inequality]... on learning outcomes can be attenuated when mother-tongue education is available.
We look forward to learning more about the seminar and the project's report, Multilingual classrooms: opportunities and challenges for English medium instruction in low and middle-income countries.

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