ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Dismantling Manufactured Languages and Identities: A Critical Pedagogy Approach to South Asian Language Classrooms


Mahajan Gyanam - UCLA, Asian Languages and Cultures, Los Angeles, United States


32 – Dynamics of Language Diversity, Multilingual Identities and Linguistic Nationalism in South Asia


 This paper aims to show that most SA language classrooms at American Universities engage in manufacturing a fake language to match fake objectives for students whose identity is assumed to be far removed from their spheres of engagement. Indic languages are well known for being multilingual but language teaching tends to irrationally follow hegemonic methodology and pedagogy of power structures and units unsuitable for SA languages. This leads to the teaching of an artificial language to students for whom irrelevant identities are manufactured. Instead of Freire’s Pedagogy of Hope, and instead of student empowerment, language instructors impose their own notions of language and culture engagement for a manufactured “nation”. Deviant notions from a “nation state” creep into the discourse and remove a student even further from issues of social justice. And all this in a classroom which becomes a place not to tackle ignorance but to create, strengthen and magnify a malevolent fake identity. This paper suggests Critical Pedagogy for the teaching of South Asian languages with a specific program in Solidarity and Resistance in SA languages. We advocate for co-opting our students and empowering them to take charge of their own identities and learning. We suggest adapting the Five Cs of the World Readiness Standards to suit South Asian languages and we add our own Plus Five Cs (Content, Collaboration, Contextualization, Critiquing, and Contemporizing) to engage in Critical Pedagogy.