SNU TELL' 2022
The “INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON SOUTH ASIAN PERSPECTIVES ON THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH LANGUAGE AND LITERATURE 2022” organized by Shiv Nadar University Chennai was held on 16 & 17 December 2022. The conference started with an inauguration ceremony. It started with a keynote speaker, Dr Kanak Raja from Penn State University, Pennsylvania where he spoke about the importance of language and translation and talked about the things in the same domain. After his speech, the official inauguration began with Tamil Thai Valthu, the state anthem of Tamil Nadu. Then Dr Nivedita, the assistant professor of English at Shiv Nadar University Chennai extended a warm welcome to everyone with her speech. Then the ceremony was addressed by Dr Deepesh, the assistant professor of English at Shiv Nadar University Chennai about the plan, theme, and schedule of the whole conference. A multilingual prayer was then sung by the college music team. At last, we moved to the lamp lighting ceremony followed by a speech by our Vice Chancellor, Prof. Sriman Kumar Bhattacharya where he officially declared the conference open.
Prof. Ajit K. Mohanty
On December 16th, 2022, Shiv Nadar University Chennai conducted “The International Conference on South Asian Perspective on Teaching English and Literature”. After the refreshments, the conference was over to Prof.Ajit.K. Mohanty (Rtd) JNU, New Delhi. The topic was “Indian Multilingualism”. The talk started with the statistical data about the number of languages listed as native languages in India, clubbed languages, minority linguistic groups and the official language count in India. He spoke about the growth of Multilingual societies without boundaries, having language as their identity and tool for communication. He referred to the state Odisha from India – how tribes used their language for a few experiments based on language. He also mentioned that few languages make a country multilingual – unity in diversity makes it multilingual. Prof Mohanty spoke about the current form of the Hindi language – a combination of thirty-eight clubbed languages. Other tribal languages are willing to join Hindi to have a common identity. But English has taken precedence over other major national languages. A divide between major national languages and English was called the “Vernacular Divide”. He talked about the vicious cycle of language disadvantage – the weakening of minority languages and further being neglected. Speaking about the native language broadly, he mentioned the observations of the native language – including as a medium of thinking, psychological reality and defining based on origin, identity, and competence. He stated Odisha as an example since it has most of the tribal population. Prof. Mohanty moved to the topic of “English in Indian Education”. He spoke about the education obtained by different-income people. The school divide and social divide make children acquire education in divergent methods. Added to this, he talked about the development that the English language promotes. The motive to develop learning English in a multilingual society is to rethink the teaching methodology – how to ground English in a Multilingual language education (MLE) approach, considering the psycholinguistic principles of MLE. MLE meant the usage of two or more languages for teaching, and the goal was to achieve prominent levels of multiliteracy and multilingualism. He also spoke about the recent experiments in MLE that happened in India – that includes the case from Andhra Pradesh in 2004-05, from Odisha in 2006-07 and MLE in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh. He mentioned towards the end, the English language for diverse societies would improvise their standing.
Dr Giridhar Rao
Dr Girdhar Rao, from Azim Premji University in Bengaluru, gave a plenary address on the importance of multilingual knowledge creation and the translation of existing educational content into multiple languages. He emphasized the need to address language sensitization and dismantle preconceived hierarchies among languages. He shared how Azim Premji University is pioneering the offering of multilingual courses, which will allow students to access education in their preferred language and break down barriers to learning. He spoke about its particular importance in our country, where there are hundreds of languages spoken with a dozen dialects each and a history of linguistic discrimination. He spoke about the sources of linguistic power – the power is derived from the outside of linguistic society, i.e., from the social spherical inequalities of the society. That is why he mentioned the language Bhojpuri, being a native language for fifty-one million people in the Indian census, is not considered an official language in India. Added to this, he emphasized on the analysis of proverbs. He said proverbs are the simplest, seamless, small pieces of language that have multiple nuisances, and complexities in analyzing them. He described them as a piece of the culture of the language, as they add an interesting element to the language. Proverbs connect a lot with the multilingual space. For example, the usage of proverbs is inevitably connected with grandparents. It connects the kids and their education into the multilingual space and how proverbs help kids to connect with the complexity of the language culture.
Speaking about the analysis of the Language policy documents, the NEP 2020 has brought in a policy where the medium of instruction till grade 5 but preferably till grade 8 (wherever possible) can be given in their home language/regional language/local language. Take the example of the language Bhojpuri – spoken by 5.1 crore people, who were forced to use Hindi as the medium of instruction. But if NEP 2020 is operational, then this would not happen. Also, the NEP 2020 documentary talks about the MLE (Mother Language Education) which is merely not possible. He gave the example of the case pending in the Supreme Court of India regarding the forceful teaching of Kannada in schools of Karnataka. He also spoke about the aim of NEP 2020, which includes preparing high-quality bilingual textbooks, and high-quality English Training by the states towards bilingual education.
Parallel presentation at AI & DS – A
After the panel discussion, people went to their venues for the paper presentations. A group of people came to AI & DS – A, where four of the delegates presented and talked about their research papers.
The first delegate was Ms R. Shobhana Sree from Coimbatore. She is an assistant professor of English at Dr N.G.P. Institute of Technology, Coimbatore. She spoke about how regional language can be used to learn a third language. She has taken a survey wherein she included 12 people with different and unique languages known. She wanted to find out how a person learns a third language with the regional language or native language. She found out that it takes more than 2 years to learn a third language using a regional language. If they learn a third language using their native language it took less than 2 years for them to learn the language and be able to converse in it.
The second delegate was from Andhra Pradesh. She spoke about translation, how one translates the unknown language to their known language and tries to get the context of it and NEP too. She taught the ideal way for how an educator should teach a language and how can one achieve high goals in education. She also expressed a challenge which is about language diversity. It makes things a bit difficult because of the diversity of languages all around. She mentioned the escape holes through NEP which can help in solving the language diversity issue.
The third delegate was from Nepal. He spoke about the “Teaching and Learning Experiences During and After Covid-19 Pandemic in Nepal”. He shared the data for the Covid-19 situation in Nepal. He then shared how the pandemic affected the learning experience of the students and how there came a rough patch in the kids’ journey.
The fourth delegate was from Andhra Pradesh. She spoke about Translanguaging. She explained the ability of a multilingual speaker to shuttle between languages treating the diverse languages that form their repertoire as an integrated system. She further said that it is a practice where one draws on all linguistic and non-linguistic resources at their disposal to communicate and to move.
The fifth delegate was Kanakan Das from Andhra Pradesh again. He spoke about teaching and writing in rural settings and how kids start learning a language. He mentioned the ways of learning through reading the texts from biscuit wrappers, spice sachets, and any type of packet which has a text on it. He did research wherein he asked the kids to split each text into parts of speech. After doing so, the kids got so happy that they learnt a language.
Dr Cherry Mathew Philipose
The second day started with a talk by Dr Cherry Mathew Philipose who is the Assistant Professor of English at Shiv Nadar University, Chennai. He talked about the famous Hindu epic Ramayana. He talked about the different characters that have been shown in the Ramayana and further about how different people have different perspectives of the same characters. He then talked about a Malayalam novelist, poet, and politician named Sarah Joseph. She has written a book called “Retelling the Ramayana” which was published by Oxford University in which she has talked about the different perspectives of the Ramayana’s characters in a political sense. She has also written many other books wherein she has shown different perspectives of the same characters. Dr Cherry talked about this so that people can look at the different perspectives of literature.
The name of the next delegate was Deepu from Anna University, Chennai and spoke about Gender fluidity. The main objective of the research is to promote transgenders and their stake in our country. She spoke about why transgenders want to fit into the existing gender categories. Since this research was limited to mythology – Hijra Ramayana where they were cursed to be transgenders and their blessing would be powerful. There are only transgender poets who have come out of their boundaries to speak on these issues.
She also mentioned trans women who suffer as women do after their surgery. In the end, she read out a poem where the transgenders were happy to fit themselves in the ‘feminine’ category of gender.
The third delegate was Dr Radhika from Kumaraguru College of Liberal Arts and Science, and she represented her research on the Marginal concept of Law and Technology. There is a novel on this topic which is more like an episode. The author (autobiography) has written about his experiences of whatever he has heard from people regarding this topic. The author talks more about the status of the people (reserved categories) who suffer in society and a case study from the southern part of Tamil Nādu was meant as an example. There was a community that was converted to Christianity just for their needs. Lakshmi was the person who translated the book into English. She spoke about the conditions of the community people, especially the women suffering in those areas. The way of depiction in the book was the entire motive.
Justice Prabha Sridevan, Sowmya Dechamma, and Dr. Padma
Then the panel discussion started with Prof Soumya Dechamma from University of Hyderabad, Dr. Padma, Assistant Professor from Stella Maris College and Justice Prabha Sridevan – who was the judge in Madras High Court for a decade since 2000.
The topic was the importance of translation and how in a multilinguistic society, people acquire translation. When we think about India as a multilinguistic society, there are two perspectives – India has so many languages – where many individuals are speaking different languages. But the existence of all these languages does not make a country multilinguistic. Added to this, some individuals speak many languages. These two factors determine a multilinguistic society. There are institutions developing languages, but they are monolinguistic in nature, for example – The institution for Kannada, Telugu, Tamil and more. That is why translation promotes monolingualism, said by Prof Soumya. This is because people are more comfortable with the language already learnt. Even the Indian Census of 2011, shows that the society is more monolinguistic. She also mentioned that the Kings and Queens are mostly multilingual. For example – Krishna deva Raya’s empire consisted of languages like Kannada, Telugu, Sanskrit, and a bit of Persian. In recent times, the highest number of academic people are multilingual. While the other people who mention them to be multilingual are at the end of being monolinguistic, which she said in her hypothesis.
Dr Nalini Iyer is a Professor of English, Asian Studies Program, and Women, Gender, & Sexuality Studies at the College of Arts and Sciences, Seattle University, USA. She joined us through the online medium for another wonderful session. She talked about “Teaching Indian Literature in America”. She is a teacher who teaches Indian literature and culture in America. She talked about the cultural translations which are needed to convey not only the meaning of the text but also the cultural essence of the text. She talked about how it is to teach Indian Literature in America because teaching Indian Literature in other languages may not just be limited to mere translation. She expressed her views that true Indian Literature cannot be filled in just a small course.
Malothi Thirupathi, Asst Prof. of English, Kamala Institute of Technology and Science, Huzurabad, Telangana. She spoke about using L1 for learners which may help them to learn targeted languages and usage of tools such as teacher questionnaires, interaction with teachers and classroom observations. Utilization of the mother tongue in teaching English will have an effective understanding of content, learners show interest in knowing the meanings of unknown words in their mother tongue, where learners can gain confidence in explaining things.
Nandini S, Faculty of Stella Maris College, Chennai, spoke about diglossia in Tamil, how it affects the language – disrupts spoken written link, students’ doubt in the mastery of language, younger generation’s disinterest towards writing and reading, development of educational anxiety and lack of motivation, evidence of how standardized language can “oppress, marginalize and alienate” Watson and Shapiro (2018) and poses difficulty to those who use sign language.
The 2-day International Conference of English (or whatever the full name is) was about to end and this was the perfect time to extend our vote of thanks to all the participants, presenters, and student volunteers. Dr Deepesh gave a closing speech thanking everyone to be a part of the event and to make the event as successful as it turned out to be. After that, the certificate distribution ceremony started where certificates were handed out to all the participants, speakers, presenters, and last but not the least, the volunteers. At last, Dr Cherry Mathew Philipose gave a vote of thanks to all the people who were a part of the event and to everyone who helped make the event a successful one.