Multilingualism | Multilingual Education Program (MLE)

Multilingualism | Multilingual Education Program (MLE)


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In the present world, there are around 6000 languages grouped under various language families spoken in 200 states. The existence of all these languages side by side resulted in multilingualism. Knowing two or more two languages became the need for communication among speech communities as well as individuals. 

Meaning and Definition of Multilingualism

Multilingualism can be defined as an occurrence regarding an individual speaker who uses two or more languages, a community of speakers where two or more languages are used, or between speakers of two languages.

Multilingualism basically arises due to the need to communicate between speakers of two languages and across speech communities. Multilingualism is not a recent phenomenon; it was prevalent in ancient times also. This need further resulted in lingua franca, pidgins, and phenomena like code-switching. These are the products of Multilingualism.

Advantages of Multilingualism

Multilingualism has various advantages
  1. Accessibility to the knowledge of other cultures.
  2. Communication between different linguistic and cultural groups become earlier.
  3. High cognitive development of a child; 
  4. Broader world views., etc.
Multilingual speakers outnumber monolingual speakers in the world’s population. Owing to the case of access to information facilitated by the Internet, individual exposure to multiple languages is becoming increasingly frequent, thereby promoting a need to acquire additional languages.

Stages of MLE (Multilingual Education) Program

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An analysis of multilingual education programs (UNESCO) (2003,2005) suggest that instruction take place in the following stages:
  • Stage 1: Learning takes place entirely in the child’s home language.
  • Stage 2: Building fluency in the mother-tongue. Introduction of oral fluency in second language.
  • Stage 3: Building oral fluency in the Second langue. Introduction of literacy in second language.
  • Stage 4: Using both first language and the second language for lifelong learning.

Multilingualism education in this approach emphasis first language first in the child, taking the socio-cultural curriculum in the classroom culture, and then bridge to a second language. The unique thing in this approach is to involve the community in creating their own curriculum and minimize the theoretical hegemony, thereby creating a new set of people who believe in the ethics of creating and sharing knowledge for the society than to limit it to the theoreticians.

Several recent studies have now convincingly shown that there is a highly positive relationship between bilingualism, cognitive flexibility, and scholastic achievement. Bilingual children not only have control over several different languages but they are also academically more creative and socially more tolerant. 

The wide range of linguistic repertoire that they control equips them to negotiate different social situations more efficiently. There is also substantial evidence to show that bilingual children excel in divergent thinking.

Role of Teacher in Multilingual Classroom

The role of the teacher in a multilingual classroom is essential
  1. The teacher has to be Multilingual too, be able to explain and translate where the students don’t understand with a few simple words
  2. Must be a good communicator in order to explain and guide the students that they could trust him/her, must know how to arrive straight to the point in order to be clear and precise.
  3. Must be a good mediator, must know the culture of different countries and specificity of their languages in order to not create the problem but resolve them.
  4. Be a good psychologist, must understand at first sight if the students follow him/her
  5. Be a good co-operator, make all the students cooperate to improve skills in students.

Need to Promote Multilingualism

In today’s global environment there is a great need for multilingualism. It will help in
  1. Personal growth
  2. Communication for Business
  3. Job Mobility
  4. Study abroad
  5. Increase in vocabulary and speech
  6. Tolerance and respect towards other cultures.
Now we also know the positive relationship between multilingualism, cognitive growth, and educational achievement, there is very need to promote multilingual education in schools.

Recommendations for Multilingual Education

  • Pre-service and in-service programs for teachers must sensitize them to the nature, structure, and functions of language, the process of language acquisition in children, language change, emergent, and early literacy, and equip them with strategies that can help build on the resources of a multilingual classroom.
  • Researchers in the area of language learning and language teaching methods must be supported and promoted by higher learning institutions in the country.
  • For languages which are oral in nature, they must be written down in a script form so that the children of those community have access to their culture and learn in their own language till they become proficient in state/regional language.
  • Publishers must be encouraging and supported to publish print material in lesser-known minority/regional/tribal languages.

Multilingualism in India

The language was the basis of the reorganization of the states of India after independence and the demand for the further reorganization of new states on this basis has been conducted from time to time. 

Modern India, as per the 1961 count, has more than 1652 mother tongues, genetically belonging to five different languages families. Apart from them, 52% of mother tongues were considered unclassified at that time. 

IN spite of the enormous diversity, several linguistic and cultural elements bind India into one linguistic and sociolinguistic area. 

Multilinguistic education typically refers to “First-language-first Education, that’s is schooling which begins in the mother-tongues and transitions to additional languages. 

In India, the people of various states use various languages so India is called a Multi-Lingual country. Each state has its own regional language as an official language. 

Hindi is the official language of the country. However, English is the de-facto official language used for communication business, education, and governance- making it convenient to link the various linguistic regions. 

A significant feature of Indian multilingualism is that it is complimentary. Thus, an individual may use a particular language at home another in the neighborhood, and still another in certain formal domains such as education, administration, and communication. 

In the area of school education, Government-run schools, use the regional language as a medium for instructions while in privately run schools English is the Medium. 


In an increasingly globalized and technologically advancing world, language boundaries are fuzzy and fluid. There is a multiplicity of language practices and neo-cultural identity formations. Multilingual heteroglossia education programs must be developed to support multiple languages and literacies all over. 

Author Remarks: Here we have provided best notes on Multilingualism and Multilingual Education Program (MLE). Topic Multilingualism is very important for B.Ed., M.ED, and also for CTET, HTET, and all the TET and teaching Exams. In this article on Multilingualism, we have learned the Meaning and Definition of Multilingualism, Nature of Multilingualism, Multilingualism in India, Different Stages of Multilingual Education Program ( MLE), What is the Role of teacher in a Multilingual Classroom, Needs to promote Multilingualism, and Some Recommendations for MLE, etc.

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