Equal Education Opportunities for Children: The case of English and mother tongue for the marginalized children
- Written by Rama Mathew
In this write up, I would like to examine the issue of language for the marginalized children, both mother tongue and English, which every child in school is expected to study as a subject and learn. There are two strands that are of interest: one is the issue of mother tongue (L1 hereafter) as the medium of instruction and the other is the adding of a second language (L2 hereafter) to the primary school curriculum.
Education in the mother tongue
In the case of children whose L1 is different from the regional language, for example, tribal or migrant workers whose L1 might be a dialect or another language, the medium of instruction is not their L1 but L2. Since their L1 is not a school language, they have to often begin their education on a clean slate as it were. Learning in one’s own L1 at least in the first three years of school education is desirable for many reasons: it helps i) children to see the sound-symbol relationship thus facilitating literacy skill-development, ii) in the development of concepts since they can relate what they learn in school with their life outside, iii) in the development of the capacity to think with the help of L1. Research all over the world shows that the longer the child has L1 as the main medium, the better s/he will be at learning different subjects including additional languages. With regard to language development, the child has to learn to read and write only once in life, and it is easiest to learn it in a language that one knows well. All languages share a common underlying proficiency and therefore the proficiency in the language s/he knows best is easily transferred to other languages.
Early Introduction of English in State-Funded Schools
- Written by Dr A.L Khanna
Despite bitter experiences of introducing English in standard-I in state-funded schools in some of the states of India (e.g. Punjab and Bihar a few years ago) English continues to be introduced in standard-I. At present roughly fifty per cent of the states and union territories of India (Andaman Nicobar, Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Daman and Diu, Delhi, Haryana, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Punjab, Sikkim, Pondicherry and Manipur) have introduced. English as a subject in classes-I and II, and the remaining in classes 3 – 5.
Teaching English to Young Learners
- Written by S.C. Sood
Rama Mathew’s article ‘Teaching English to Young Learners: Need for Introspection’ (FORTELL Newsletter 13, Jan. 2008) has come at the right time as this topic has been attracting attention of the academics and the authorities for some time now.