The first conference was held in Bangkok, Thailand in 1993 and this began what was to become the biannual series: Bali, Indonesia (1995), Langkawi, Malaysia (1997), Hanoi, Vietnam (1999), Phnom Penh, Cambodia (2001), Tashkent, Uzbekistan (2003), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (2005) and Dhaka, Bangladesh (2009), Colombo, Sri Lanka (2011), Cape Town, South Africa (2013).
Past partners and funding agencies include the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), the Indonesia Australia Language Foundation (IALF) and the Australian Government (AusAID). In each case the conference was partnered by key government ministries of the host country.
You can find more about the previous conferences here.
Linguistic and cultural diversity is a fact of life in developing countries - in India as elsewhere. With this in mind, the theme of the 11th conference was Multilingualism and Development. The sub themes were as follows:
Multilingualism and the metropolis
- Identifying and describing the linguistic implications of urbanisation
- The benefits of linguistic hyper-diversity
- Linguistic barriers experienced by migrant populations in urban contexts
- How schools, health clinics and other government services cater to speakers of dozens of different languages in super-diverse urban contexts
- The practice of Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education (MTB MLE) – and the capacity of schools to provide it – in multilingual urban contexts
- Social division as an unintended consequence of MTB MLE in multilingual contexts
- Multilingualism in semi-urban and urban non-metropolitan contexts
Language, technology and multi-literacies
- Digital media as a threat or opportunity for minority languages
- Digital media and non-Latin-based writing systems
- The use of digital media at times of crisis and natural disasters, especially in multilingual societies
- Digital media and language choice in education
- Digital literacy, language and gender
Multilingualism, marginalisation and empowerment
- The tension between ideas of ‘development’ and formal education systems
- Educating girls and empowering women in multilingual societies
- Endangered languages and endangered livelihoods
- Language, identity and violence
- The role of parents in multilingual contexts
- Multilingualism in rural contexts, particularly in the context of accessing markets
- Prospects for indigenous peoples and speakers of minority languages in multilingual nations
- The role of English in multilingual developing countries: empowering or marginalising?
- Describing and responding to the phenomenon of low cost private English-medium schools catering to the economically marginalised
The 11th Language and Development Conference would not have been possible without the generous support and assistance from our partners:
Ministerial panel: Government Responses to Multilingualism – featuring speakers from Sri Lanka, South Africa, Bhutan and Ethiopia. Panel chaired by Carol Benson.
Panel discussion: Multilingualism in India: Where Are We Now? – featuring Minati Panda, Giridhar Rao
Debate: Motion – ‘English medium instruction does not bring the benefits that people expect’ – featuring Lizzi Milligan, Hywel Coleman, Negussie Negash Yadete and Baela Jamil. Debate chaired by John Knagg.
Book launch: Language and Social Cohesion – featuring S.Perera, T.Thanaraj, Hywel Coleman, F.T.Croos, Bonny Norton
Following up on the 11th Language and Development Conference that we hosted in New Delhi in November 2015, the British Council organised a partners’ conclave on 12 January 2016 in its office in New Delhi. The objectives for the conclave were to:
- have a shared understanding of the impact of the New Delhi conference
- have a shared understanding of the action and research agendas emerging out of the conference and provide partners an opportunity to state their interest in pursuing these agendas
- have an opportunity to comment on the New Delhi conference programme and make recommendations for subsequent conferences in the series
- discuss possible directions for the legacy programme
- agree on next steps.
The conclave was attended not only by representatives of the official knowledge partners of the conference, but also other organisations interested in the legacy programme. We had representation from the Ministry of Rural Development (Government of India); National Multilingual Education Resource Centre of the Jawaharlal Nehru University; Digital Empowerment Foundation, UNESCO, UNICEF, Pratham ASER, Regional English Language Office of the US in India and Bhasha Research Centre.
The conclave began with a brief introduction to the Language and Development conference series with a focus on the impact of the 11th conference in New Delhi. You can access a presentation on impact here (ppt,3mb).
Hywel Coleman, Trustee and the academic consultant for the 11th conference led on the discussion on themes emerging from the conference which will, in turn, inform the legacy programme.
The seven cross cutting themes that came across form feedback from conference speakers and delegates were:
- Language use in multilingual contexts
- Practice of mother tongue based multilingual education
- Low cost English medium education
- Service provision in multilingual
- Future Language and Development
- "We are not alone"
We had a very fruitful discussion with the organisations present which covered a range of topics which generated a lot of ideas on working together to pursue the themes above, how we share the resources around the themes and the way forward.
For more information on the legacy programme arising out of the 11th Language & Development Conference, please write to Vernon.Dsouza@britishcouncil.org or Debanjan.Chakrabarti@britishcouncil.org
During the proceedings, participants shared information about several upcoming events and symposiums following similar themes to the 11th Language and Development Conference. Details of these events will be added below. If you would like information about an event added to this list, please write to us at LDC2015@in.britishcouncil.org