ECSAS 2023 – Turin 26-29 July

Friends or foes? Multilingual identities in the language classroom


Shah Gautami - University of Texas at Austin, Asian Studies, Austin, United States


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


 While multilingualism and translanguaging is the norm in South Asia, the theoretical framework which dominates much of language pedagogy in the West, originates in a western monolingual context. With globalization, diaspora communities, shifting senses of identity and multi-modal communication, the multilingual student & the related phenomenon of translanguaging are becoming more common in language classes in the western world and teachers find themselves faced with increased diversity within the classroom. This, coupled with the right wing agenda for “language purity” increasingly complicates the teaching of South Asian languages in the diaspora. Understanding how multilinguals process & acquire language, as well as recognizing political agendas and addressing ground realities in one’s classroom is key to effective pedagogy. From the perspective of a Hindi teacher in the U.S. this paper explores both, the pedagogical implications of translanguaging that multi-lingual students bring to language classes, as well as the challenges of a right-wing “language purism” movement.