Tapping technology for multilingual learning

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Tapping technology for multilingual learning

  • The theme of International Mother Language Day 2022, it has much relevance in reshaping Indian higher education

Declining Languages

  • India has been home to hundreds of languages and thousands of dialects, making its linguistic and cultural diversity the most unique in the world.
  • It is our mother tongue that lends expression to our vision and aspirations, our values and ideals, as also our creative and literary endeavours.
  • The former UNESCO Director-General highlighted the importance of mother tongue Stating “the language we learn from our mothers [mother tongue] is the homeland of our innermost thoughts.”
  • He aptly described each language to be “as valuable and distinct as every irreplaceable human life”.
  • November 1999, the UNESCO General Conference Declared February 21 as International Mother Language Day, in response to the declining state of many languages

This year’s subject

  • The theme of International Mother Language Day in 2022 — “Using Technology for Multilingual Learning: Challenges and Opportunities” —
  • The central idea is to leverage technology to support and enrich the teaching-learning experience on a multi-lingual level.
  • It also aims at achieving a qualitative, equitable and inclusive educational experience. Inevitably, the widespread use of technology would fast-track development.
  • Multilingual education predicated on the increasing use of one’s mother tongue is a key component of inclusion in education.

India’s Case

  • In Indian classrooms, a multi-lingual approach would also create new pathways of learning by addressing the emerging challenges on a regional and global scale, in line with the Indian Prime Minister’s vision of “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas”.
  • Role of technology came to the fore during the COVID-19 pandemic when school shutdowns forced educators and learners to adapt themselves to online education
  • These include the requisite skills employed in distance teaching, Internet access, and, importantly, adapting materials and content in diverse languages.

Direction of the NEP

  • The National Education Policy (NEP) 2020 encourages the use of mother tongue as the medium of instruction till at least Class five but preferably till Class eight and beyond.
  • The NEP seeks to tailor the teaching and learning process and modify it by making it holistic, value-based and inclusive.
  • There is a pressing need to create and improve scientific and technical terminology in Indian languages. This would help transform the educational experience by making existing knowledge systems in a range of disciplines accessible to learners.

Helping students

  • Sir C.V. Raman’s observation has a prophetic ring of truth by the fact that we have been able to create a large English-based education system which ncludes colleges that offer courses in medicine and multiple disciplines of engineering.
  • The need to build an effective multilingual education system across diverse streams and disciplines becomes all the more imperative.
  • Survey by All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) in 2020 involving over 83,000 students, nearly 44% of students voted in favour of studying engineering in their mother tongue, highlighting a critical need in technical education.
  • Study Webs of Active Learning for Young Aspiring Minds (SWAYAM) into eight regional languages such as Tamil, Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Bengali, Marathi, Malayalam and Gujarati, is commendable.
  • Such tech-led initiatives will serve to democratise higher education. At the same time, the decision of the AICTE to permit B. Tech programmes in 11 native languages, in tune with the NEP.
  • It would open the door for students to a wide range of opportunities; the languages are Hindi, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Gujarati, Malayalam, Bengali, Assamese, Punjabi and Odia.
  • Learning in (your) mother tongue is at the core of building a sense of self-esteem and identity.

Way forward

  • According to the Language Census 2018, India is home to 19,500 languages or dialects, of which 121 languages are spoken by 10,000 or more people in our country.
  • It is our collective responsibility to revive and revitalise the 196 Indian languages which fall under the “endangered” category.