Mother Tongue and Medium of Instruction: Official and Unofficial Language Choices in the Kumaun

  • Cynthia Groff
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Minority Languages and Communities book series (PSMLC)


As with other language labels, the concepts of mother tongue and of medium of instruction reveal ambiguities. This chapter explores these labels as they are taken up in the Kumaun, with implications for identity negotiation and social mobility. The demand for English-medium education and the pressure for social advancement through knowledge of English contrast with Gandhian educational priorities. De facto fluidity in the implementation of medium of instruction creates spaces for the unofficial use of minority language resources in the classroom. Although government schools, like Lakshmi Ashram, are Hindi-medium, Kumauni is often used to facilitate understanding. Hindi is used similarly in English-medium schools and in English classes, with a natural switching between languages. Language use practices, or unofficial multilingual education, reflect the surrounding multilingual context.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cynthia Groff
    • 1
  1. 1.Leiden UniversityThe HagueThe Netherlands

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