Educating First-Generation Tribal Learners in Urban English Medium Schools: ELT Strategies to Bridge the Gap

K, Viswanath (2020) Educating First-Generation Tribal Learners in Urban English Medium Schools: ELT Strategies to Bridge the Gap. PhD thesis.

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Internet and globalisation have ensured English of its place as the most sought-after language the world over. Today in India, English is perceived not just as a language but as a path for upward social mobility, economic betterment and a ‘powerful agent for social change’ by the urban and rural populace alike. Tribal communities in India have historically been marginalised sections of the society. Despite several measures to bring about equality, inequalities exist and become more prominent with reference to English language learning. A recent trend in English education in India is the shift from ELT to English as a medium of Instruction (EMI), and state governments are routinely introducing EMI in state supported schools. A serious attempt towards mainstreaming children from deprived tribal communities through EMI was attempted by the Government of Odisha in the academic year 2015-16, through an innovative scheme called Anwesha (quest). In the backdrop of such an educational model being proposed for the first time it is imperative that independent studies are conducted to know the on-the-ground situation and thereby suggest corrective measures. This study had four major objectives. Firstly, to find out the perceptions of various stakeholders - students, their parents, teachers, and administrators - regarding a unique state-supported beneficial scheme called Anwesha that enables tribal children from Below Poverty Line (BPL) families in rural areas to study in private English medium schools in urban areas. Secondly, to identify the problem areas in English learning for the young tribal learners, and to prepare the tribal learners directly taking admission in grade I under the Anwesha scheme to learn a vocabulary list of 500 English words through a bridging course, as these children had missed out on three crucial years of formal exposure to English at the kindergarten level. Thirdly, to examine if the use of tribal folklore as English learning material has a motivating effect on young tribal learners and lastly to understand how tribal artefacts from learners’ own culture can be used for curriculum planning in English language education. To achieve the various objectives of the study a mixed methods research approach was adopted by making use of both qualitative and quantitative methods. Data collection for this study has been done through a diagnostic test, face to face interviews, focus group discussions and classroom observations. This study has been conducted in three different phases between September 2016 and April 2018. The diagnostic test was helpful in identifying the key weaknesses of the first-generation tribal learners who are being educated in urban English medium schools. The bridging course used in the study was helpful in improving the performance of the tribal learners who were being admitted directly in Class I. But even after going through the bridging course, it was not at par with the performance of the learners who have been in English medium schools right from nursery level. The findings of this study justify the need for a bridging course for tribal children being admitted directly in Class I in urban English medium schools. The findings reveal that tribal learners show a clear preference for ELT material with content drawn from the tribal milieu. Based on the findings of this study it is recommended that schools admitting students under the Anwesha scheme must consider introducing the bridging course for these students before they are introduced their prescribed course. It is also recommended that school authorities should consider introducing alternative course material for the students admitted under Anwesha scheme with content drawn for tribal folklore. Since the study was conducted on a very small scale combined with the fact that there were many external factors which were beyond the control of the researcher, the findings of this study are indicative and cannot be generalised. It is believed that the findings of this study would add to the research in the field of ELT, and further studies could be taken up in related topics. With the changing status of English in India, and with more and more state governments making provision for English medium education for the economically and socially deprived sections of the society, more number of first-generation learners would certainly be introduced to English medium instruction in the coming years. Thus, the findings of this study and the recommendations made would be found useful in framing policies, designing course content, and formulating classroom strategies for situations where first-generation learners are offered English medium education.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords:English language teaching; English medium instruction; First-generation tribal learners; Mainstreaming; Anwesha scheme
Subjects:Humanities & Social Sciences > Educational Psychology
Humanities & Social Sciences > Tribal Studies
Humanities & Social Sciences > Urban Sociology
Divisions: Social Sciences > Department of Humanities & Social Sciences
ID Code:10232
Deposited By:IR Staff BPCL
Deposited On:19 Jul 2021 10:40
Last Modified:19 Jul 2021 10:40
Supervisor(s):Mohanty, Seemita

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