Monolingual Ideologies in Multilingual Classrooms: Exploring Tacit Aspects of the Indian Education System

Language and Language Teaching,


Globalisation has resulted in ever increasing linguistic diversities and a worldwide recognition of the need to support linguistic pluralism through education (UNESCO, 2003). Keeping abreast with the global trend, India’s education policy has provided for the cultivation of multilingualism by including at least three languages in the curriculum. However, in reality, India’s education system is guided by monolingual ideologies that disregard multilingual realities and promote a form of monolingual multilingualism” (Neumann, 2015). This translates into separatist pedagogy and practices that keep languages strictly compartmentalised at schools. Different time slots are allotted to teaching learning of disparate languages. Proficiency in a language is interpreted as the ability to use it without resorting” to any other language. In effect, monolingual ideologies function to reject translanguaging (Garcia, 2009), or natural language practices of multilinguals, that enter into classrooms. Strategies such as code-switching and translating are invalidated when they occur in spoken or written conversations in classrooms. This article aims to study the monolingual ideologies that permeate the education system to understand their implications for the process of teaching and learning in Indian classrooms.