DESCRIPTION OF THE RESEARCH PROJECT(S)
The MultiLila project aimed to investigate the role of language of education and multilingualism in the individual and the society on language, school and cognitive skills in underprivileged primary school children. We focused on schools in three sites in India (Patna, Hyderabad and Delhi), and directly assessed 2,500 children in government schools, on language abilities, literacy, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, mathematical reasoning and non-verbal cognition. A child questionnaire including demographic information, language history and current language practices questions as well as questions on socioeconomic background and contextual linguistic diversity was completed for each participant. Furthermore, we surveyed the children’s teachers and head-teachers on their respective language attitudes, teaching methods and qualifications in order to evaluate the linguistic and pedagogical resources available to the child participants. Detailed classroom observations were also collected which included a detailed record of number of languages used by teachers and learners during classroom activities within a 30-minute period of observation. Detailed information on the project findings can be found in https://www.mam.mmll.cam.ac.uk/ and the final research report in https://www.mam.mmll.cam.ac.uk/Publications/Projectfinalreport . The project has led to two follow-up projects which are currently underway in Hyderabad focusing on a classroom intervention targeting reading comprehension strategies through multilingual resources.
"Multilingualism and Multiliteracy: Raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India." May 2016 - July 2020. ESRC-DFID Raising Learning Outcomes in Education Systems Research Programme 2015. (Past)
“Supporting the development of Indian primary school children's reading comprehension skills: A scaffolding-based intervention”. January 2021-December 2022 (extended to December 2023 due to the pandemic). British Academy Humanities and Social Sciences Tackling Global Challenges Programme 2020. (current)
PRINCIPAL RELEVANT PUBLICATIONS
Tsimpli, I. M., Vogelzang, M., Balasubramanian, A., Marinis, T., Alladi, S., Reddy, A., & Panda, M. (2020). Linguistic Diversity, Multilingualism, and Cognitive Skills: A Study of Disadvantaged Children in India. Languages, 5(10).
Tsimpli, I. M., Mukhopadhyay, L., Treffers–Daller, J., Alladi, S., Marinis, T., Panda, M., Balasubramanian, A., & Sinha, P. (2019). Multilingualism and multiliteracy in primary education in India: A discussion of some methodological challenges of an interdisciplinary research project. Research in Comparative and International Education, 14(1). DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177%2F1745499919828908
Lightfoot, A, R. Mathew, L. Mukhopadhyay & I.M. Tsimpli (2022). Multilingual practices in Indian classrooms: Exploring and supporting teacher awareness and classroom strategies. Multilingual Education in South Asia: At the Intersection of Policy and Practice. Routledge.
WHY/HOW DOES YOUR PROJECT ADVANCE OUR KNOWLEDGE ON BILINGUALISM/MULTILINGUALISM/CONTACT?
The project reveals psycholinguistic, linguistic and societal differences between multilingualism in the Global South and the Global North - The findings demonstrate that multilingualism offers resilience to disadvantaged children in their cognitive skills and their literacy development in English
The project shows that while low socioeconomic status aggravates (English) language input deprivation in the school context, multilingualism in the learners helps develop language skills to a certain extent.
WHAT IS THE SOCIAL IMPACT OF YOUR PROJECT?
The project promotes destigmatizes the use of multiple languages in multilingual classrooms where a unilingual medium of instruction is officially expected
The project's findings demonstrate the beneficial role of multilingualism in young learners' cognitive and language learning skills
LOCATION AND/OR IMPACT OF YOUR PROJECT