Being an English teacher in India is complicated. NCERT‘s Position Paper on the Teaching of English rightly calls English “A Global Language in a Multilingual Country”.
English is in India today a symbol of people’s aspirations for quality in education and a fuller participation in national and international life. Its colonial origins now forgotten or irrelevant, its initial role in independent India, tailored to higher education (as a “library language”, a “window on the world”), now felt to be insufficiently inclusive socially and linguistically, the current status of English stems from its overwhelming presence on the world stage and the reflection of this in the national arena.
Although the colonial roots of English may now be forgotten or irrelevant, its hegemony in the Indian society cannot be ignored. The language of opportunity, access, education and social standing is also a language that is oppressive in classrooms across the country. This is especially true for first generation English learners whose parents do not speak English.
This Blog Series attempts to explore how to embrace students’ multilingualism in a workshop classroom as not only an effective pedagogical choice, but also as a counter measure to the oppression of English on students from non-English-speaking homes.
Coming Up: Part 4: L1 in the Writing – A Guest Post by Sruti Sriram