Multilingual Education: Practices, Challenges and Possibilities

Home/ Multilingual Education: Practices, Challenges and Possibilities
Course TypeCourse CodeNo. Of Credits
Foundation ElectiveSES3012042


Semester and Year Offered: Semester 1/2

Course Coordinator and Team: Shivani Nag (C)

Email of course coordinator:

Pre-requisites: Pre-Doctoral


  • To understand the different contexts and forms of multilingualism and MLE models.
  • To examine the theoretical and ideological assumptions underlying the differing MLE models and engage with challenges and possibilities enabled by them.
  • To engage with multilingualism as a pedagogic resource in a classroom and MLE as a transformative pedagogy.

Course Outcomes:

By the end of the course the participants will be able to:

  • To identify how the context of multilingualism shapes the nature and aims of MLE models conceptualized.
  • To understand the multiplicity in MLE models and how this multiplicity is located in different assumptions around relationships between mind and language and language and power.
  • To distinguish between the assimilative and transformative potentials of MLE practices and conceptualize/develop MLE practices exploring transformative potentials of multilingualism.

Brief description of modules/ Main modules:

Unit I: Contexts of Multilingualism and MLE.

This unit aims to familiarise students with concepts of ‘multilingualism’ and ‘multilingual education’. In this unit, the students will be encouraged to engage with multilingualism in classroom situations and appreciate that linguistic diversities in classrooms are more a norm than exceptions. The unit will focus on multilingualism in Indian context as a useful example to understand the complexities and potentials of multilingualism. The need for a multilingual education framework and its models will also be examined.

Unit II: MLE Models and there Theoretical and Ideological underpinnings

This unit will attempt to familiarise students with MLE models in practice and encourage them to critically examine the MLE models in view of their assumptions regarding mind-language relationship and also the relationship between language and power. The MLE models that students are encouraged to engage with will focus MLE practices in India but will also include case studies from countries like Nepal, South Africa, Tanzania and others.

Unit III: MLE as transformative pedagogy

This unit aims to enable students explore possibilities of engaging with multilingualism as a pedagogic resource in a transformative pedagogy. The unit will attempt to encourage the students to imagine MLE beyond its assimilating aims of bridging and transition and in process also engage with idea of MLE as key to critical pedagogy and for enabling democratic classrooms. The transaction of this unit will require students to engage with field (Classrooms as a possible site), videos, literature, etc., as they engage with possibilities enabled by multilingual classrooms.

Assessment Details with weights:

S. No.




Reflective Journal based on engagement with readings, field experiences, exploration of literary texts, folk stories/songs, & ethnographic accounts and reflection of own schooling experience.



Review paper based on critical review of MLE practices.



Term paper based on unit III.



Reading List:

  • Pattanayak, D. P. (Ed).(2007). Multilingualism in India.New Delhi: Orient Longman
  • Sachedva, Rajesh (2009). Linguistic Diversity and MLE in India.Swara, MLE Newsletter, Vol 1 (1), pp. 10.
  • Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (1999).Linguistic diversity, human rights and the free market.In K.
  • Miklos, R. Philipson, T. Skutnabb-Kangas, & T. Varady, Language: A Right and a Resource- Approaching linguistic human rights (pp. 187-222). Budapest: Central European University.
  • Cole, M., & Scribner, S. (1978). Introduction.In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Lev Vygotsky- Mind and Society (pp. 1-14). Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Vygotsky, L. (1978). Mind and Society: The development of higher mental processes.In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
  • Wells, Gordon (1999). Discourse and knowing in the classroom. Dialogic Inquiry: Towards a sociocultural practice and theory of Education. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 98-134.
  • Cummins, J. (2000b). Putting language proficiency in its place: Responding to critiques of the conversational/academic language distinction. In J. Cenoz, & .U. Jessner, English in Europe: The acquisition of a third language.Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
  • Mohanty, A. K.; Panda, M.; &Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2009).Why Mother Tongue Based MLE?New Delhi: National Multilingual Education Resource Consortium.pp.1-2.
  • ToveSkutnabb-Kangas, R. Phillipson, M. Panda and A.K. Mohanty (2009). MLE concepts, goals, needs and expense: English for all or achieving justice. In A.K. Mohanty, M. Panda, R.
  • Phillipson, R, T. Skutnabb-Kangas (Eds). Multilingual Education for Social Justice.New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan, pp. 313-334.
  • Mohanty, A. K.; Panda, M.; Phillipson, R.; &Skutnabb-Kangas, T. (2009).Multilingual Education for Social Justice. New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan
  • Coleman, Hywel (Ed) (2017). Multilingualisms and Development: Selected proceedings of the 11th language & development conference.London: British Council.
  • Panda, M. (2012). 'Bridging' and 'Exit' as metaphors of multilingual education: A constructionist analysis. Psychological Studies, 57 (2), 240-250.
  • Rege, Sharmila (2016 ). Education as TrutiyaRatna: Towards Phule-Ambedkarite Feminist Pedagogic Practice.In Uma Chakravarti (Ed) Thinking Gender, Doing Gender, New Delhi: Orient Blackswan, pg. 3-31.
  • Agnihotri, R. (1995). Multilingualism as a classroom resource. In K. Heugh, A. Siegruhn, &P. Pluddemann, Multilingual Education for South Africa. Johannesburg: Hienemann. (pp. 3-7).
  • Agnihotri, R.; Gupta, A.S.; &Khanna, A.L. (Eds) (2017) Trends in Language Teaching.New Delhi: Orient BlackSwan
  • Benson, C. (2009). Designing effective schooling in multilingual contexts: going beyond bilingual "models".In A. K. Mohanty, M. Panda, R. Philipson, &Skutnabb-Kangas, Multilingual Education for Social Justice: Globalising the local (pp. 59-76).New Delhi: Orient Blackswan.
  • hooks, bell (2017). Language: Teaching new worlds/new words.Teaching to Transgress:Education as the Practice of Freedom. New York: Routledge, pp.167-177.
  • Brereton, Amy (2008). Sign language use and the appreciation of diversity in hearing classrooms, Early Years, Vol 28 (3), 311-324, DOI: 10.1080/09575140802393702