Beyond ‘two-solitudes’ assumption and monolingual idealism: generating spaces for multilingual turn in Pakistan

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This study problematises the folk theories of ELT practitioners, and critically views the limits of their monolingual idealism and guilty multilingualism in the context of Pakistan. Drawing on interviews of 18 English teachers and classroom observations in a provincial capital of Pakistan, the study analyses their ‘two solitudes’ assumptions, in which they essentialize English-only teaching without any recourse to L1/native/local languages. Results show that practitioners’ current theoretical positioning is underpinned by the TESOL orthodoxy, which means that they treat English learning as a hermetic process, and emphasise on rigid separation of L1s from the target language. The study finds that narrow theoretical base and orthodox orientations towards TESOL/SLA holds teachers from liberal use of multiple languages. Inferiority syndrome about the value of native/indigenous languages also causes their lack of confidence in bi/multilingual TESOL. The study proposes that to negotiate meaningful spaces for multilingual turn, there is a need to soften teachers’ hard-core orthodox beliefs about English learning, and foster theoretical/conceptual transition from their fractional view to understanding bi/multilingualism as a dynamic cognitive system. The study concludes that scholarly activism could act as a catalyst for transforming teachers’ orthodox beliefs, and help generate ideological and implementational spaces for multilingual/ TESOL/SLA.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)346-367
JournalInternational Journal of Multilingualism
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Multilingual turntwo-solitudes assumptionwhole linguistic repertoireTESOL/TEFL orthodoxy


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