Define Multilingualism and Challenges of Multilingual Classroom

what is multilingualism

When a person, group, or community of speakers can communicate in two or more languages, such scenario is referred to as multilingualism. Since the dawn of time, communication across cultural boundaries has demanded the employment of many languages.

It is now recognised as a widespread occurrence for cross-cultural communication. Knowing more than one language, other than one’s home tongue, became the norm as communication tools improved and the globe became a “global village.” The Council of Europe in Strasburg emerged as a result of people’s increased ability to migrate between countries for a variety of reasons, including study abroad, business travel, and tourism. a course that teaches the European languages used inside the European Common Market in order to facilitate traveller communication

Advantages of multilingualism

  • It gives people access to different cultures.
  • Speaking with people from other linguistic and cultural backgrounds broadens our horizons and boosts our knowledge.
  • Learning about other cultures helps students’ mental (cognitive) growth.
  • Increases employment options that would otherwise be restricted to one’s own location.
  • The user’s ability to fill in any gaps in his conversation with words from other languages he understands boosts his fluency, or communicative competence. It is referred to as code swapping.
  • Multilingual speakers may mix several languages together (a practise known as code-mixing) to start a conversation.

In India, a multilingual and multicultural nation, members of the same ethnic groups often converse in their own native tongues. No community, nevertheless, feels the need to exist in isolation without having a mutually understood language for communication. They may interact with people who speak other languages both on an individual and a group level, which causes them to leave their speech communities and learn or use another language or languages in order to communicate with the other person or group. As a result, they change languages as necessary. Additionally, specialised communication in a language other than the native or home language is required due to school, travel, technology, religion, etc.

English was first introduced to India by the British as a colonial tool, but it also allowed the educated to have access to the whole globe. Urdu was chosen as the official language of Jammu and Kashmir State more for political than for any other purpose, since adopting any of the regional languages—Kashmiri, Bodhi, or Dogri—would have stoked unwarranted resentment in the areas whose languages were disregarded.

As a result, the Indian educational system is always bilingual. Teaching is a challenging profession due to the enormous challenge of accommodating pupils from various linguistic and cultural backgrounds.

challenges of multilingual classroom

Although the instructor is required to teach in the official language, pupils would nonetheless like to learn in their own tongue. Students have a lot of trouble communicating, especially if English is the medium of instruction, as many teachers have complained that they think in their home tongue and interpret their thoughts in the target language using the mother tongue’s grammar. They do poorly as a result.

Additionally, the learners lose their sense of identity when just one official language is used as the medium of instruction; they could believe that their mother tongue is incapable of serving as a medium of instruction.

While it is true that language instructors are appointed based on the medium of instruction in the educational system, we need fully qualified teachers in order to cater to a diverse population.

We need to adapt our system to accommodate a range of learners who arrive at school with a variety of expectations in order to get over the challenges presented by multilingual classrooms, particularly those with diverse ability levels. In order to achieve the goals of education, we must somehow align teaching-learning practises with their expectations.