Mother tongue in education: a step towards preservation of language diversity of the Himalayas

Evgeniya Renkovskaya, Anastasia Krylova

The term “language endangerment” describes the situation when the language transition between generations becomes limited. Today it is the case of many Himalayan languages that are considered endangered. Himalayan languages are mostly used in daily communication at home or within local communities. They have no written form and are not connected with school education. Both in India and Russia it is not infrequent to hear regretful remarks from minor language speakers about their children who don’t want to speak their language, as if their children’s personal choice was the sole reason. Referring to our field research expirience of minor languages of India and Russia we may conclude that regional language endagerment is connected with the rise of education provided in official language without any role of the regional language in it. Hindi is the main language of education in Uttarakand and Himachal Pradesh. Negative influence of Hindi-only school education on minor languages has some reasons:

* According to psychological studies primary school children learn to express their thoughts in regular verbal form, therefore their systematic thoughts and consciousness depend on the language of primary education.

* Speaking Himalayan languages is restricted by teachers, while the importance of Hindi is imposed on children.

* Parents start to speak Hindi with their children from pre-school age to avoid language problems at school, reducing local language use.

* Attitude towards Himalayan languages becomes negative because they are rarely used outside their home and village.

These days many people consider multilingual education to be necessary in a multilingual country like India. There are some sources to provide multilingual education included in the MLE program. This program is spreading mostly in the state of Odisha. After research on MLE program in Odisha we want to discuss its possibility in the Himalayan region. And our main focus will be on how the Himalayan languages should be used in education.