‘It is a dialect, not a language!'—Investigating teachers' beliefs about Mewati
Keywords:language attitude, language ideology, language policy, mother tongue, teachers’ beliefs
AbstractThere is a paucity of research on dialect awareness among teachers, particularly in South Asia. This paper investigates teachers' beliefs about Mewati, a vernacular language variety spoken by the Meo people living in Haryana, India. Data was collected primarily through detailed semi-structured interviews from local native Mewati speaking Meo and non-Meo teachers working in rural government and urban private schools. Nearly all teachers expressed unfavourable beliefs towards Mewati and discouraged its use in the classroom. This despite teachers candidly admitting students struggle, often as late as the eighth grade, with the standard language(s) of Hindi and/or English adopted as the medium of instruction. Viewing this as a rite of passage all students must go through, teachers normalized the status quo by calling it a ‘natural' and ‘transitory' phase. This article argues, however, that these teachers' beliefs and practices leave students struggling for far too long during their crucial years of learning and development. 50% of students leave school before reaching the eighth grade in India (UNICEF, 2005). These high dropout rates found across Mewat and India more generally could partly be explained by student alienation. Part of this alienation is a result of disregarding students' first languages which are stigmatized as ‘dialects'.
How to Cite
Bakshi, P. (2020). ‘It is a dialect, not a language!’—Investigating teachers’ beliefs about Mewati. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 20(1), 1–24. https://doi.org/10.17239/L1ESLL-2020.20.01.06