New Education Policy 2020
Multilingualism and the power of language
4.9. It is well-understood that young children learn and grasp non-trivial concepts more
quickly in their home language/mother tongue. Wherever possible, the medium of instruction until at least Grade 5, but preferably till Grade 8 and beyond, will be the home language/mother-tongue/local language. Thereafter, the home/local language shall continue to be taught as a language wherever possible. This will be followed by both public and private schools. High-quality textbooks, including in science, will be made available in home languages. In cases where home-language textbook material is not available, the language of
the transaction between teachers and students will still remain the home language wherever possible. Teachers will be encouraged to use a bilingual approach, including bilingual teaching-learning materials, with those students whose home language may be different from the medium of instruction. All languages will be taught with high quality; a language does not need to be the medium of instruction for it to be learned well.
4.10. As research clearly shows that children pick up languages extremely quickly between the ages of 2 and 8 and that multilingualism has great cognitive benefits to young students, children will be exposed to languages early on (but with a particular emphasis on the mother tongue), starting from the Foundational Stage onwards. All languages will be taught in an enjoyable and interactive style, with plenty of interactive conversation, and with plenty of early reading and subsequently writing in the mother tongue in the early years – with skills developed for reading and writing in the other two languages in Grade 3 and beyond. All
language learning will aim to be experiential and enhanced through art, such as music, poetry, and theatre. There will be a major effort from both the Central and State governments to invest in large numbers of language teachers in all regional languages around the country, and in particular all Schedule 8 languages. States, especially states from different regions of India,
may enter bilateral agreements to hire teachers in large numbers from each other, to satisfy the three-language formula in their respective states, and also to encourage the study of Indian languages across the country.
4.11. The three-language formula will continue to be implemented while keeping in mind the Constitutional provisions, the need to promote multilingualism and national unity while providing for greater flexibility.
4.12. Students whose medium of instruction is the local/home language will begin to learn
science and mathematics, bilingually in Grade 6 so that by the end of Grade 9 they can speak about science and other subjects both in their home language and English. In this regard, all efforts will be made in preparing high-quality bilingual textbooks and teaching-learning materials.
4.13. The home/local language and/or the second Indian language will be enhanced with the reading of and analysis of uplifting literature from the Indian subcontinent, ancient to modern, and by authors from all walks of life, as well as through other arts, such as by playing and discussing music or film excerpts, or engaging in theatre in these languages.
4.14. As so many developed countries around the world have amply demonstrated, being well educated in one’s language, culture, and traditions is indeed a huge benefit to educational, social, and technological advancement. India’s languages are among the richest, most
scientific, most beautiful, and most expressive in the world, with a huge body of ancient as well as modern literature (both prose and poetry), film, and music written in these languages that help form India’s national identity and wealth. For purposes of cultural enrichment as well as national integration, all young Indians should be aware of the rich and vast array of languages of their country, and the treasures that they and their literature contain.
4.15. Thus, every student in the country will participate in a fun project/activity on ‘The
Languages of India’ sometime in Grades 6-8. In this project/activity, students will learn about the remarkable unity of most of the major Indian languages, starting with their common phonetic and scientifically-arranged alphabets and scripts, their common grammatical structures, their origins and sources of vocabularies from Sanskrit and other classical languages, as well as their rich inter-influences and differences. They will also learn what geographical areas speak which languages, get a sense of the nature and structure of tribal languages, and they would learn to say a few lines in every major language of India and a bit about the rich and uplifting literature of each. Such an activity would give them both a sense of the unity and the beautiful cultural heritage and diversity of India and would be a wonderful icebreaker their whole lives as they meet people from other parts of India. This project/activity would be a joyful activity and would not involve any form of assessment.
4.16. The importance, relevance, and beauty of the classical languages and literature of India also cannot be overlooked. Sanskrit, while also an important modern (Schedule 8) language, possesses a classical literature that is greater in volume than that of Latin and Greek put together, containing vast treasures of mathematics, philosophy, grammar, music, politics, medicine, architecture, metallurgy, drama, poetry, storytelling, and more, written by people of
various religions as well as non-religious people, and by people from all walks of life and a wide range of socio-economic backgrounds over thousands of years. Sanskrit will thus be offered at all levels of school and higher education as an important, enriching option for students. It will be taught in ways that are interesting and experiential as well as contemporarily relevant. Sanskrit textbooks at the foundational and middle school level may be rewritten in Simple Standard Sanskrit (SSS) to teach Sanskrit through Sanskrit (STS) and make its study truly enjoyable.
4.17. India also has an extremely rich literature in other classical languages, includingclassical Tamil, as well as classical Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, and Odia, in addition to Pali, Persian, and Prakrit; these classical languages and their works of literature too must be preserved for their richness and for the pleasure and enrichment of posterity. When India becomes a fully developed country, the next generation will want to be able to partake in and be enriched as humans by India’s extensive and beautiful classical literature which containsgreat intellectual and cultural treasures.
4.18. In addition to Sanskrit, the teaching of all other classical languages and literature of
India, including Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, Malayalam, Odia, Pali, Persian, and Prakrit, will also be widely available in schools as options (possibly as online modules), through experiential and innovative approaches, including by integration of technology, to ensure that these languages and literature stay alive and vibrant, especially in those states where they may
be best taught and nurtured.
4.19. For the enrichment of our children, and for the preservation of these rich languages and their artistic treasures, all students in all schools, public or private, may have the option of learning at least two years of a classical language of India and its associated literature, through experiential and innovative approaches including by integration of technology, in Grades 6-12, with the option to continue from middle level through secondary education and university.
4.20. In addition to high quality offerings in Indian languages and English, foreign languages,such as Korean, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, French, German, Spanish, or Russian will also be widely offered at the secondary level, for students to learn about the cultures of the world and to increase their global knowledge and mobility according to their own interests and aspirations.
4.21. The teaching of all languages will be enhanced through innovative and experiential methods, such as gamification and apps, and by weaving in the cultural aspects of the
languages, with the teaching-learning of various subjects and with real-life experiences through films, theatre and storytelling, art and music, local literature, etc. Thus, the teaching of languages will also be based on experiential learning pedagogy.
4.22. Indian Sign Language (ISL) will be standardised across the country and National and State curriculum materials developed, for use by students with hearing impairment. Local sign languages will be respected and taught as well, where possible and relevant.
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