Multilingual Pedagogy for ELT in India

The present state of anarchy  plaguing the  English language teaching scenario   of  the vernacular medium schools of India calls for a sound pedagogical practice of  multilingual teaching suitable for the Indian context, not the Euro-centric multilingual pedagogy used in the USA or  the UK. A teacher teaching English in a multilingual setting should use a multilingual pedagogy  built on   her   awareness of the languages used by her pupils as their first languages. Based on  the teacher’s   awareness of the languages used by her pupils, a set of multilingual strategies should be  developed to nurture the linguistic competence of the pupils  in their  first language as well as in the target language.

An explicit knowledge  about  languages  available in her immediate neighbourhood and  an  awareness of the  language used by her  pupils and a  a sensitivity   to the languages of the learners …… these    are some  of the  prerequisites for  a teacher using multilingual strategies  in her English class room.  Soliciting responses from her pupils, a teacher  can promote  questioning about language to develop linguistic understandings of her pupils. A  teacher teaching English and the regional language at the primary level should try to find out ways  of  creatively exploiting  the different languages  available  in a given classroom.  The English teacher interested in using a multilingual strategy should tap  into their pupils’ familiarity with more than one  languages to advance the learning of the target language. Bringing one language to another is the essence of a multilingual  pedagogy used for  developing the linguistic as well as the cognitive  abilities of  the pupils who come  from a non-English speaking background. By using cognitively challenging tasks in multiple languages , the English teacher  may  turn the language class into simplified version of   a linguistics class which aims at generating enough linguistic inputs for the  pupils as well as the teacher to reflect and learn

A  multilingual language awareness  is a must for teachers  of multilingual pupils.  Teachers  should  understand   the important role  that the first language plays  on the development of a  second language  and of the interdependence  of  the languages  known to the pupils.  English teachers  working in a multilingual context  should be capable of building on their pupils’ first language  and literacy to develop literacy  in the target language.

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