Mapping ecology of literacies in educational setting: The case of local mother tongues vis-à-vis Urdu and English languages in Pakistan

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20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This study critically examines the literacy levels of undergraduate students in Pakistan to compare and contrast the proficiency levels, particularly reading and writing of their mother tongues versus Urdu and English, and to study real and perceived vitality of local/regional mother tongues vis-`a-vis Urdu and English. The research investigated 162 undergraduate students using questionnaires, semi-structured interviews and participant observation. Drawing principally on Continua of Biliteracy, an ecological framework (“Revisiting the Continua of Biliteracy: International and Critical Perspectives.” Language and Education: An International Journal 14 (2): 96–122; Continua of Biliteracy:An Ecological Framework for Educational Policy, Research, and Practice in Multilingual
Settings. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters), the data suggest that the respondents’
proficiency levels in academia-oriented skills like reading and writing are considerably lower in mother tongues than in Urdu and English languages. The respondents tend to attach greater value to academic literacy in Urdu and English over their mother tongues for they believe Urdu and English hold significant pragmatic and economistic value as languages of power and wealth. Local mother tongues are perceived to be good as identity carriers in a multilingual and multiethnic country, and their use could best be made in intra-ethnic interaction and family chitchat. As per Continua model, literacy situations across contexts, development and content indicate an explicit privileging of Urdu and English (traditionally more powerful end) of continuum over local mother tongues (traditionally less powerful end).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-222
JournalLanguage and Education
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Keywords

  • academic literacy; language policy and planning; local mother tongues; Pakistan; Urdu; English

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics

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