Social Justice through Multilingual Education

Edited by: Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, Ajit K. Mohanty, Minati Panda

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Multilingual Matters
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The principles for enabling children to become fully proficient multilinguals through schooling are well known. Even so, most indigenous/tribal, minority and marginalised children are not provided with appropriate mother-tongue-based multilingual education (MLE) that would enable them to succeed in school and society. In this book experts from around the world ask why this is, and show how it can be done. The book discusses general principles and challenges in depth and presents case studies from Canada and the USA, northern Europe, Peru, Africa, India, Nepal and elsewhere in Asia. Analysis by leading scholars in the field shows the importance of building on local experience. Sharing local solutions globally can lead to better theory, and to action for more social justice and equality through education.

Noble in purpose, this volume contains many valuable accounts of efforts toward righting longstanding inequities of education in multilingual settings around the world -- from the highlands of Nepal and tribal language communities of India, to the Sámi lands of Scandinavia, to Native North America, and more. The authors passionately portray how very deeply languages matter, for every learner and all learners.

Nancy H. Hornberger, Graduate School of Education, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, USA

The book is a passionate call to respect and enshrine the inalienable right of all the children of the world to learn their languages and through their languages. The book is also a powerful indictment of the sinister privileging of languages like English that are marginalising and decimating humanity's rich language resources. The book resonates with the contemporary Indian scene, where language, particularly as a medium of learning, has become a fiercely contested terrain.

V. Vasanthi Devi, The Hindu, 11 August 2009

This book is a wake-up call. It quashes the myth that monolingual education is the best way to progress. The book brings home the fact that the only way to arrest our shrinking knowledge-base is to impart multilingual education as an undivided whole, each language complementing and empowering the other.

Social Justice through Multilingual Education places education centre stage in the demand for justice and rights for minority languages peoples. With a wealth of international examples, the book integrates boundary-breaking ideas about multilingual education with the movement for retaining linguistic diversity and achieving social justice for language minorities. A remarkable collection of papers written by many highly-respected authors makes this book essential reading.

Professor Colin Baker, Pro Vice-Chancellor, Bangor University.

An extremely timely work, wide-ranging in its scope and depth, which addresses directly a still surprisingly controversial topic: the indisputable value of education in one's own language.

This book, edited and co-authored by some of the leading thinkers and doers in the MLE (Multilingual Education) enterprise, maps the different paths MLE has taken in extremely diverse local contexts on every continent. The book also promotes the cause of indigenous peoples' social, economic and political rights - a struggle that needs far more public attention and support than it has received.

Probal Dasgupta, Head, Linguistic Research Unit, Indian Statistical Institute, Kolkata.

As far as multilingual education is concerned and with regard to a synthesis of multilingual education worldwide, the present volume is a most welcome contribution to the topic. The various articles offer a wide range of thorough investigations on this important matter.

Amani Lusekelo, University of Dar es Salaam and University of Botswana in Afrikanistik Online, 2011

Each chapter is a superb contribution to MLE and social justice. This book will become a classic. It is a must-read for language educators and researchers everywhere, who see that the path to social justice is paved in multiple languages.

Lee Gunderson, University of British Columbia (2010): Language and Education, 24:6, 545-548

Social Justice through Multilingual Education is a gold mine for educators concerned with issues of social justice more broadly conceived. It clearly and articulately offers the case for why (and, in fact, how) matters of language, bilingualism, multilingualism, and both language oppression and language empowerment must be addressed if our goal is truly social justice for children in schools. It is an extremely important and valuable contribution to the literature, and we owe a debt of gratitude to the editors and authors for their hard work in making it available.

The hopeful and, at times, confrontational themes in the book provide scholars and researchers with much to think about as they develop future projects. the compilation offers readers critical but optimistic impressions of the usefulness of MLE and impels practitioners to develop these impressions within their own local contexts.

Mariam Durrani, University of Pennsylvania in Language Policy (2011) 10:265-267

Robert Phillipson (linguistic imperialism, English as a '€˜world'€™ language, language policy) is emeritus professor, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas (Emerita) has been actively involved with struggles for language rights for five decades. Her research interests include linguistic human rights, linguistic genocide, linguicism (linguistically argued racism), mother-tongue-based multilingual education and the relationship between linguistic and cultural diversity and biodiversity. Ajit Mohanty (psycholinguistics, multilingualism and multilingual education focusing on education, poverty and disadvantage among linguistic minorities) and Minati Panda (mathematical discourse and learning, cognition, culture, curricular and pedagogic issues and social exclusion) are both professors at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, India.

PART 1: INTRODUCTION Foreword by the editors

1. Multilingual education – A Bridge Too Far? - Ajit Mohanty


2. Fundamental psychological and sociological principles underlying educational success for linguistic minority students - Jim Cummins

3. MLE for global justice: Issues, approaches, opportunities - Tove Skutnabb-Kangas

4. Designing effective schooling in multilingual contexts: The strengths and limitations of bilingual 'models' - Carol Benson


5. The tension between linguistic diversity and dominant English - Robert Phillipson

6. Literacy and bi/multilingual education in Africa: recovering collective memory and knowledge - Kathleen Heugh

7. Empowering Indigenous languages — What can be learned from Native American experiences? - Teresa McCarty

8. Education, multilingualism and translanguaging in the 21st century - Ofelia Garcia

9. Privileging Indigenous Knowledges: Empowering MLE in Nepal - David Hough, Ram Bahadur Thapa Magar, Amrit Yonjan-Tamang and Iina Nurmela

10. The caste system approach to multilingualism in Canada: Linguistic and cultural minority children in French immersion - Shelley K. Taylor


11. The contribution of postcolonial theory to intercultural bilingual education in Perú: an Indigenous teacher training programme - Susanne Jacobsen Perez

12. Reversing language shift through a Native language immersion teacher training program in Canada - Andrea Bear Nicholas

13. The ethnic revival, language and education of the Sámi, an Indigenous people, in three Nordic countries (Finland, Norway and Sweden) - Ulla Aikio-Puoskari

14. Hundreds of home languages in the country and many in most classrooms - coping with diversity in primary education in India - Dhir Jhingran

15. Overcoming the language barrier for tribal children: MLE in Andhra Pradesh and Orissa, India - Ajit Mohanty, Mahendra Kumar Mishra, N. Upender Reddy and Gumidyal Ramesh


16. Language matters, so does culture: beyond the rhetoric of culture in multilingual education - Minati Panda and Ajit Mohanty

17. MLE concepts, goals, needs and expense: English for all or achieving justice? - Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Robert Phillipson, Minati Panda, Ajit Mohanty

About the authors


Subject index

Person index

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