For Our Cho:Tlung: Decolonizing Language Ideologies and (Re)Imagining Multilingual Education Policies and Practices Nepal

Phyak, Prem
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[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
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Recent studies on ‘the multilingual turn’ (Conteh & Meier, 2014; May, 2014) reveal both the theoretical and pedagogical inadequacy of monolingual ideologies and instructional practices in language education. Yet, dominant language policies and pedagogical practices, including multilingual ones, are deeply influenced by monolingual habitus and biases (Benson, 2013; Gogolin, 1997; May, 2014) and monoglossic ideologies (García & Kleyn, 2016) which both solidify ‘inequalities of multilingualism’ (Tupas, 2015) and delegitimize the use of minoritized languages and language practices in education. By putting ‘language ideology’ (Kroskrity, 2009; Makihara & Schieffelin, 2007; Pennycook, 2013; Woolard, 1998) at the center, this engaged ethnographic study analyzes decolonizing efforts (Maldonado-Torres, 2010; Quijano, 2007; Smith, 2012) with a group of indigenous people, Limbu, towards denaturalizing and transforming hegemonic language ideologies in Nepal’s language education policies and practices. More specifically, this study emphasizes ideological analyses with indigenous villagers, teachers, and youth towards building critical ideological awareness, advocacy, and activism in reimagining equitable multilingual policies and pedagogical practices in Nepal. Building on engaged language policy (Davis, 2014; Davis & Phyak, forthcoming; Shohamy, 2015), this study adopts a multisited and multimethod approach (McCarty, 2011) to engage Limbu bi/multilingual villagers, teachers, and youth in ethnographically grounded dialogue on language ideological issues. Informed by ‘indigenous critical praxis’ and ‘indigenous epistemology’ (Gegeo & Watson-Gegeo, 2002, 2013), dialogic engagement (Bakhtin, 1981; Freire, 1970) with the participants is grounded on collaborative ethnography, counter-narratives, critical language awareness workshops, and focus-group discussions. This study reveals that ethnographically grounded dialogue builds the participants’ critical consciousness (Freire, 1970) of multiple language ideologies and further engages them in reclaiming their identities as a knower and transformative agent for creating multilingual schoolspace. In particular, dialogic engagement contributes to ‘ideological becoming’ (Bakhtin, 1981; Ball & Freedman, 2004) which represents the participants’ critical awareness about the hegemony of dominant nation-state and neoliberal ideologies and identities as social critics, advocates, and activists. This process further involves participants’ ‘ideological clarification’ (Fishman, 2001; Kroskrity, 2009) about the coloniality of the nation-state and neoliberal ideologies in both dominant and resistance language policy discourses. This study shows that dialogic engagement is necessary to challenge the invention of language as a fixed, bounded, and monoglossic entity and to empower language minoritized people towards taking an activist position in transforming monolingual ideologies and practices. While the indigenous villagers denaturalize the monolingual nation-state and hierarchical neoliberal ideologies, the teachers construct translanguaging ideologies and pedagogies (García & Li, 2014) towards supporting ‘epistemic access’ (Heugh, 2015; Kerfoot & Simon-Vandenbergen, 2015) of bi/multilingual indigenous children. Similarly, the indigenous youth reclaim their multilingual identities and position themselves as counterpublics through dialogic engagement. This study further theorizes ‘engaged language policy’ (Davis, 2014; Shohamy, 2015) and contributes to knowledge in ‘the multilingual turn’ in language education by integrating decolonizing efforts towards transforming monolingual ideologies.
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Engaged language policy, language ideology, decolonization, multilingual education
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Theses for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (University of Hawaii at Manoa). Second Language Studies
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