The advantages of Multilingualism in teaching English
Multilingualism is a social environment in which people speak more than one language. It is not uncommon to find multilingualism across the globe. There are only a few countries in the world which have monolingualism.
India is a land of many languages, dialects and religions. Bilingualism or monolingualism is a very common phenomenon here. As a teacher, trainer and text book writer of English I can say that monolingualism is almost a rarity in Indian schools. Students speak different languages or each student knows or speaks more than a language. Most students speak one language at school, their mother tongue at home or with their linguistic or religious communities. At higher stages English becomes the lingua franca or the common language of the students
Is multilingualism an asset cognitively? I think it is more an advantage than a handicap linguistically, psychologically, spiritually and even socially. Multilingualism affects the cognitive domain of the learners in a positive manner It is a proven fact that a multilingual thinks more analytically than the monolingual. The question is how far it is useful in the class room or how best an English teacher can utilise the situation linguistically and develop the English skills among the learners. He must see to it that multilingualism is a great boon bestowed on him to enrich the linguistic awareness among learners so as to make them learn the target language English much faster and more easily and happily besides knowing the nuances and niceties of one another’s language and cultural differences
If the teacher is innovative , he/she can make use of the situation wonderfully and make the teaching of English truly a joy not only from himself or herself but also for the learners
How can we make use of Multilingualism?I would like to narrate my personal experience .While I was taking a class as a state resource person, I faced a situation in which some participants asked me how I would prove that It was an asset. I said that it was possible to write almost all the language with one script and one language can be written in many scripts .I wrote a sentence in English and asked one of the participant to say the equivalent sentence for the sentence in his mother tongue. Then I wrote the sentence in Devanagari script and with the English spelling. So I proved that in the Multilingual context one can not only learn each others language but also learn English more effectively than the bilingual context. The teachers should think of exploring opportunities to teach English very effectively and cleverly in the multilingual context