Bilingual Education In India

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As the global trend towards multilingualism or diversity of languages continue to grow ever larger, the issue of bilingual education in India has become an increasing challenge. Central to this issue is educational policies of the Government of India, which is a major factor of the curriculum design process in India. Bilingual education can be defined as a form of education in which two or more languages as media of instruction for the student of the school curriculum. The curriculum design process in India caused by educational policies can take into significant factors of the interests, motivations, and aspirations of the people in the Indian societies, particularly, the forces favoring maintenance of minority languages. This paper will briefly analyse some problems or issues of bilingual education in India and evaluate viable solutions. This will be done by focusing on problems of language policy issues in education including the number of languages to be used and taught, the medium of instruction, and the education policy toward minority groups. Then, it will state what has been planned or already done to improve bilingual education, teaching and learning situation in India, now and in the future.

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Throughout some characteristic features of bilingualism in India, the language situation used in India increase together with language policy issues. Firstly, language policy issues are affected by the increasing languages used of Indians. For example, in terms of the number of languages used in India ranks fourth in the world (Skutnabb-Kangas 2000), over 6,600 mother tongues were reported in India in the 2001, with varying estimates of 300 – 400 languages in the country. These belong to five different languages families, namely,……….. These figures vary for a number of reasons including a given language may be reported different names reflecting the returnee’s ethnic, professional, attitudinal, and other affiliations. Secondly, many languages used in different activities are partly due to the complex social-psychological and socio-linguistic relationship between language and their speakers. According to Mohanty (2010), a large number of languages is used in different Indian societies and different spheres of public activities. These include more than 104 for radio broadcasting, 87 for print media, 67 languages in primary education, and 104 for adult literacy programs. This study show that language users in the country use two or more languages to communicate with others in the same or different communities in different areas of their daily life. Moreover, all of the language used in India, only 22 official languages are recognized as an associate official language by VIIIth schedule of the Constitution of India. Because of all of these languages have rich literary traditional and are spoken by a large number of Indian. Koul & Devaki (2000)nice point out that a three-language formula was proposed for education in 1957. A regional language is used as the first teaching language for the first five school years. Then, a second language is taught as a school subject; Hindi in non-Hindi areas and another Indian language in the Hindi areas during school years 6 to 8. English is taught as a school subject from the third year onwards. Base on this evidence, 22 official languages are recognized as an associate official language, which are language of power in India, in particular, Hindi and English. However, it can be said that the tribal and other minority languages in India have no place in education because of an inequality and discrimination of language used in India. In addition, India is a nation composed of numerical linguistic minorities (Kamal K. 1991). Many tribal languages in India have been pushed out of public domains of social and economic significance for the communities. Mohanty (2010) claims that in such a condition of linguistic double divide, the languages in the higher levels push the lower-level languages out of significant public domains in a hierarchical pecking order. This evidence shows that these languages become impoverished with limited scope and restricted functions for development.

One of the facing serious problems of bilingual education development in India is the medium of instruction, which includes economic development demands the use of a language of wider communication, the language of the colonizer is still used, and often remains the official language or one of the official language Calvet (in Hamers 2005). For example, the lack of teachers and teaching materials for instruction in national languages Calvet 1981; Siguan & Mackey 1987 (in Hamers 2005). Based on this evidence, ……. According to Ghosh (1980) indicates two very brief reports on the Indian experience regarding bilingual education. The first report study the case of New Delhi, where the use of two languages as medium of instruction has been operative in 156 central schools controlled be the government. Hindi and English are used as medium of instruction to link languages of the country. These subjects including, Geography, Social studies, i.e. History, Civics are taught in Hindi, and the rest of curriculum, i.e. Science, Mathematics, etc., are taught in English. It is widely believed that medium of instruction in the central school might be better than that in regular school. This report shows that …. In addition, the well researched of Mohanty (2006) shows that English is gaining a hegemonic status within the Indian education system. The official three-language formula is increasingly replaced by bilingualism with English and Hindi or with English and a regional language as the medium of instruction because of giving access to better jobs. It can be said that….. Bilingual education in India usually involves primary instruction through the regional language and English. The significance of instruction in English is the lack of modernization of many Indian languages, the non-availability of instructional materials and trained teachers in those languages. In education, the trend seems to be toward replacing English with modern Indian languages. However, this impression is misleading for two reasons. Firstly, Professional training at the university level, in particular, Engineering, Medicine, Law, Sciences, and Computer Science, is largely done through English at present and is likely to continue in the future. Secondly, the speakers of minority languages demand instruction through their mother tongue, bilingual education will probably become more attractive as a means to maintain the ethnic identity and culture (Kamal K. 1991).

Another problem facing bilingual education in India is the education policy toward minority groups. The current language policy in the Indian educational system is mainly due to part legacy of the colonial British government, and in part a product of a series of deliberate efforts by the government to meet the national goals of an independent developing country (Kamal K. 1991). According to the researcher, from the point of view of education system, particularly in grade school level, there are five recognize the following of language in India including the classic languages, the regional languages, the mother tongues other than the regional languages, English, and Hindi. In education system in India, the current languages policy used in education system is taught as a compulsory language from Grades 1 to 10: from Grades 1 to 10 is the mother tongues or regional language, from Grades 5 to 10 is either Hindi or English, from Grades 8 to 10 is either Hindi or English (whichever was not studied in the previous stage). Thus, it is clear from the evidence that the three language formula is a result of several compromises to accommodate the interests of various pressure groups.

One possible plan to improve bilingual education, teaching and learning situation in India is improving language education by the Government, which is introduced in numerous cities in India, for instance, the improvement in language education in

Maharashtra in general and Mumbai in particular called ‘Language Development Project’ (Pai 2005). Following a study into the improving of language education, Pai (2005) states that this project looked into problems of language education of children living in slums. The Government of Maharashtra has run in teacher training programs and also introduced a competency-based syllabus for teaching languages. Moreover, teachers are expected to develop these competencies among students through student-centered and activity-based teaching of languages. From the training of teachers and students, all the methods mentioned are used only in first language education and extended to second language almost 8 years ago by using the communicative interactive approach. However, in teaching training, children should understand that everyone speaks the home language, but they must also learn the standard language to be successful in school. In addition, teachers should explain to them the role of each of the varieties; the standard variety is for life outside their homes, to be used in public affairs, and their dialect for private life at home. This would give them the psychological stability and group solidarity (Pai 2005). Based on this evidence, it was more difficult to convince the teachers to accept this method, than transferring speech habits of children from dialect to standard in teaching of English with astounding results. Unfortunately teachers believe that this method works only for English as a second language and not for the Indian languages. Moreover, teaching language by using a competency-based syllabus has not been successful, mainly because the teachers do not follow English as a second language teaching methodology. Consequently, English as a second language should be promoted by the Government as a means of currently valued domain of higher education, powerful and ticket upward mobility.

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Improving participation might be another plan to improve bilingual education, teaching and learning situation in India. Studies indicate that the causes of underlying problems with educational participation of young children may be different for boys and girls and among the various social groups of the country (Huisman 2010)nice. In general factors may play a role in any situation, but that the degree to which they are important differs depending on characteristics of the larger context of that situation. In India, for example, financial support can be very helpful in persuading poor parents to send their daughters to school if financial restrictions are a major reason for them not being in school. Nevertheless, in rural areas where concerns about safety (due to longer travelling distances) are stronger and in regions with a strong patriarchal culture that restricts access of women to public places, financial incentives cannot always be helpful in convincing parents to send their daughters to school (Bandyopadhyay and Subrahmanian, 2008; Moghadam, 2004; Kandiyoti, 1988) (in Huisman 2010). Indeed, according to Huisman (2010), due to there are no good educational facilities available, and even when such facilities are available they might remain underused in regions where there are no job opportunities for educated people, it makes little sense to try to influence household-level factors. This evidence suggests that school characteristics are more significant compared to family background characteristics in explaining the educational outcomes of children. As a result, for the Indian situation, to address such conditioning effects of the context in which children live, there is an analyze interactions between school characteristics and cultural characteristics of the context with the major household-level factors. This may help us to shed light on the situation under which specific determinants are more or less significant for getting children into school.

In conclusion, language policy issues in education including the number of languages to be used and taught, the medium of instruction, and the education policy toward minority groups related bilingual education are a significant problems facing educational policies of the Government of India. Improving language education by the Government as well as improving participation might be effective alleviation strategies to address bilingual education, teaching and learning situation in India resulting from language policy issues. Because improving language education by the Government is teacher training program and develop these competencies among students through student-centered and activity-based teaching of languages by using the communicative interactive approach. Moreover, improving participation is a strategy to address the causes of underlying problems with educational participation of young children and among the various social groups of the country. In order to ensure the effectiveness of these strategies it is significant to continue to conduct research in the field of bilingual education in India. However, this will serve to reduce the effects of language policy issues used in India. Failure to take appropriate action may have a devastating impact on educational system and curriculum design process in India.


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