Keep काम | A translanguaging task

Translanguaging.png

I was in the small South Indian town of Manipal last week. If you’re not from India, you may not have heard of it. It sits on a plateau overlooking the ancient coastal temple town of Udupi and is famous for one of India’s most well-known private universities, the Manipal Academy of Higher Education. I was invited to a learning event organised by CLIL@India, which is an EU Erasmus funded initiative run in collaboration with three other Indian universities. As the name indicates, it aims to promote Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in state-run and private schools in India. 

I led two sessions at this event: evidence-based activities and translanguaging tasks with short authentic texts. I’ve been thinking about how to share the materials I used more widely but my presentations and the handouts are designed for a face-to-face workshop and would require some commentary and context-setting to understand. So I’ve decided to do a slow release of the activities I ran but first some context. 

In their recently published paper, Jason Anderson and Amy Lightfoot include a useful definition from Garcia (2009) on translanguaging: 

… the act performed by bilinguals of accessing different linguistic features or various modes of what are described as autonomous languages, in order to maximise communicative potential.

Translanguaging, unlike code-switching, involves a lot of blending, meshing and linguistic flexibility – something that’s characterised communication in India for centuries. The recent pedagogical focus on translanguaging argues for drawing on this phenomenon as a resource in the language classroom. 

Over the past year, I’ve been working on developing my own awareness of multilingual practices and one way I’ve done this is by incorporating multilingual or translingual activities into my teaching/training repertoire. Soon after attending Jason’s presentation at the AINET Conference and a session with Jemima Hughes from the British Council, I designed Landshark, an activity that uses an Instagram post with text in Romanised Hindi. Since then, I’ve worked on some others which I was able to share with a group of 40 teachers at this workshop in Manipal. Here’s the first in a series I hope to blog about between now and January. 

This short translingual text is from a mural at a railway station in South Bombay. This text like many others I’ve used comes from @mumbaipaused, my favourite Instagram account. Interestingly, the comments that accompany it also have examples of translanguaging. The text itself plays on the English word ‘calm’ and the Hindi word ‘kaam’ (work). I designed a task using this text in two parts. The first explores pronunciation and the second articles and formulaic expressions.


Warm-up

  • Show learners the post from Instagram and get them to notice the play on words with the similar sounding ‘calm & kaam’. Get them to discuss the following questions in pairs:

  1. Where exactly is this sign?
  2. Why has this sign been painted in this place? 
  3. How does it make people feel? 

Focus on pronunciation

  • Ask them to explain the meaning of ‘calm’ in Hindi (or any other home language) and ‘kaam’ in English to a partner.
  • Now ask them to compare the pronunciation of the two words. Are they exactly the same? Elicit the mouth (rounded) and tongue positioning (back of the tongue low) for /a:/ and contrast this with the Hindi /आ/ sound.
  • Now ask them to look at a list of Hindi words and come up with English words that sound similar: 

Baan बाण (arrow)

Aam आम (mango)

Daak डाक (post)

Haath हाथ (hand)

Shaap शाप (curse)

Paath पाठ (lesson)

Here are the answers:

Barn

Arm

Dark

Heart/hearth

Sharp

Part/path

  • Ask learners to say the Hindi-English word pairs to each other – noticing the subtle differences in the pronunciation of the vowel sounds. In some words, the consonant sounds are very different (paath – retroflex aspirated to alveolar aspirated or interdental). You may need to do additional modelling or drilling. 

Focus on articles and formulaic expressions 

  • Project this table on a slide or write it up on the board. 

1

Keep calm and go to

work 

2

Keep calm and go

?

3

Keep calm and go to the

?

  • Ask learners to work in groups to find more examples of nouns that can be used with these three formulaic expressions. 
  • I’ve included some possible answers in the following table. The teachers I was training also gave me “Keep calm go to bed/hell” 🙂 They also threw (to use the Indian English expression) a googly with “… go to temple”. I need to look that one up. 

1

Keep calm and go to

school

church

college

2

Keep calm and go

home

3

Keep calm and go to the

beach

shopping mall

library

police station

  • Ask learners why we’ve used the definite article before nouns like beach and library. Elicit that both the speaker and the listener know which place is being spoken about and it’s part of their shared knowledge. 
  • Tell them that church and school can also be used with the definite article. Ask them to discuss the difference in meaning between “Keep calm and go to church” vs. “go to the church” (being a member of the institution vs. being a visitor).
  • Finally ask them to look at ‘home’ and discuss why this one doesn’t have the preposition “to” before it (“Go to home” is a common error among Indian speakers).

Extension task 

  • Ask learners to look at the expressions that they came up with and narrate a short story that ends with them saying this expression to someone. For example, your sister finds a big tear in her dress a couple of hours before a party and throws a fit. And you say to her “Keep calm and go to the mall.”

I have used parts of this activity before but it was my first time doing it all together at the workshop in Manipal. I was worried about how familiar they would be with Hindi but wanted to start with this activity because it really demonstrates how you can do a lot with a tiny translingual text. Although the teachers mainly had Tulu, Kannada and Konkani as their L1s, they knew enough Hindi to engage with the activity and enjoy it as well! What I found really interesting was that the group was really diverse in terms of their English language proficiency with quite a few teachers at A1 and a few at C1 and the others in between. I think the tasks were useful for their own language development in addition to raising awareness of translanguaging. 

References

  1. García, O. 2009. “Education, Multilingualism and Translanguaging in the 21st Century.” In Social Justice Through Multilingual Education, edited by T. Skutnabb-KangasR.PhillipsonA. K. Mohanty, and M. Panda140158ClevedonMultilingual Matters.
  2. Jason Anderson & Amy Lightfoot (2018) Translingual practices in English classrooms in India: current perceptions and future possibilities, International Journal of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism, DOI: 10.1080/13670050.2018.1548558
  3. The Instagram post was posted by @mumbaipaused on July 28, 2018: https://www.instagram.com/p/Blxc1rUFRnH/

 

Landshark | A multilingual Instagram activity

Instagram multilingual activity.png

One of my favourite Instagram accounts is @mumbaipaused. He normally posts pictures of street life in the city of which he has a unique perspective, but at times he also collaborates with artists on thought provoking illustrations. This activity is designed around one of these illustrations that @mumbaipaused posted late last year and is an attempt to fulfill my recent commitment to integrate more multilingual practices into my  classroom.


View this post on Instagram

#FridayRelease with @urankaramol

A post shared by Mumbai Paused (@mumbaipaused) on

Objectives

  • Explore different future forms in the interrogative (as well as the rhetorical function for more advanced learners)
  • Introduce the expression ‘land shark’
  • Develop oral fluency in the context of land grabs/over-development/environment/social media advocacy and encourage learners to share their own experiences with these issues.

Materials

  • Depending on resource constraints in your teaching context, you could use the ‘save to collection’ feature to bookmark the image in Instagram and display it to students using your phone/tablet. You could also show them the image by accessing the URL and displaying the image on a computer or a projector. If you teach older students who have their own devices, you could give them a QR code or a shortened URL so they can access the image through their own Instagram accounts.

Procedure 

  • Display the picture and ask the learners to think about how they would say this Hindi question “Aur kitna kayega Mumbai?” in English. Ask them to write their translations down and compare it with a partner.
  • Get them to then compare their translations to these – which one is theirs closest to?

How much more will you eat, Mumbai?

How much more are you going to eat, Mumbai?

How much more are you eating, Mumbai?

How much more would you eat, Mumbai?

  • For more advanced learners, you could explore the rhetorical function by asking if @mumbaipaused was looking for an answer to this question and getting them to think about why he posed it as a question. There’s also an allusion to a Bollywood movie which learners may recognise.
  • Encourage students to work in small groups to explore the differences in meaning and form. Get them to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to convey in Hindi. You may need to do a whole class focus on meaning/form for the target forms based on responses at this stage.
  • Ask students to now focus on the actual illustration and guess the idiomatic expression it represents. Elicit land shark and ask students if they can think of a parallel phrase for it in Marathi, Gujarati, Konkani, Tulu (or any other home language). In the North of India, there’s an interesting expression:  भू माफिया (/bhu mɑːfjɑ:/) which combines the Hindi word for earth and mafia.
  • Students now work in small groups to discuss what they know about land sharks – have their families or friends been affected by land sharks? (This might strike you as an odd question but it’s sadly all too common an occurrence).
  • Ask students to think about what @mumbaipaused was trying to draw attention to in his Instagram post – point out the geo-location – ‘Aarey Forest’. If they’re from around Bombay, they might know the controversy over the felling of a part of the forest for metro construction. If they don’t know about it, tell them about it and ask them if something similar has happened in their city or town. This can segue into a discussion on any topic that interests the learners: the cost of development, political cartoons, using social media for advocacy, disappearing urban birds/trees etc.

Follow-up

  • If students have their own devices, ask them to create Instagram accounts if they’re not already on the app and post a picture connected to the discussion that shows how the environment or people are being affected by indiscriminate development (or whatever they ended up talking about). Get them to use two rhetorical questions in the caption that use one of the forms explored in the lesson: one in English and the other in their home language (in the Roman script or in their own script – whatever works). This can become a nice show and tell activity for a subsequent lesson.

Now I know this activity is perhaps targeted at an Indian audience (or more specifically one’s that familiar with Hindi). Nonetheless, I think you could use it as a frame to develop activities using languages spoken in your own classroom – particularly if you can find Instagrammers in your city who use the platform to make a social comment about current events in local languages. Let me know how it goes! 

 

The lady in the stole | An insta-reading activity

instareading

No one reads is the old complaint and yet everyone is constantly reading on social media. I’ve been listening to folks like Shelly Terrell talk about leveraging social media for writing and reading activities and not really been doing anything about it. So here’s an attempt. I’ve been following a journalist named Anushree Fadnavis on Instagram for a while. She takes intriguing pictures on Bombay’s infamous suburban trains, mostly in the women’s compartments. And there are always short and often compelling stories that accompany these pictures. While the language isn’t perfect, it’s most certainly authentic. This is a reading activity based on one of her insta-stories that moved me

Preparation 

In class, you’ll need to display the photo from Instagram which can be accessed using this link. If you don’t have a connected classroom, you may need to take a screenshot beforehand. If your Ss are on Instagram, you might consider getting them to go directly to the photo on the app. Anushree’s Instagram username is anushree_fadnavis. Or you could share the link through a mobile chat app like Whatsapp.

Materials

You’ll need copies of the story that accompanies the picture if Ss can’t access it on their phones.

Procedure

  • Display the picture. Alternatively, ask Ss to access the photo on Instagram without scrolling down to read the caption.
  • Get Ss to work in small groups to come up with as many predictions as they can around the words who, where, when, what and why.

Screenshot_2014-12-01-19-34-25

  • Give Ss the hashtags (#traindiaries #train #Mumbai #mumbaidiaries #dailylife #dailylifeindia #everydaymumbai) that accompany the image and ask them to refine their predictions.
  • Facilitate a whole class discussion on Ss’ predictions.
  • Ask Ss why they think the woman in the picture has covered her face with a stole.
  • Distribute the story and ask Ss to quickly find out why the woman has covered her face.

Screenshot_2014-12-01-19-34-55

  • Ask them to read the story again and find three things that will stay them for a long time because they found it shocking or disturbing or moving.
  • Get Ss to share these three items with a partner and consider whether their perception of Kavita changed after reading about what happened to her.
  • Ask Ss to close their eyes and imagine that they are on the train with Kavita and follow her as she goes from compartment to compartment, hawking her wares.
    • What is she selling?
    • Does she say anything to the passengers?
    • How do the passengers treat her?
    • Does anyone talk to her?
  • Ask Ss to write down their observations in the form of an Instagram diary entry with hashtags. Encourage them to read the original story again as they do this.
  • As homework, ask Ss to find out if there any social media campaigns they can join to support the victims of acid attacks. Incidentally, Sapna Bhavnani has started a safe space for acid victim attacks in Agra (home of the Taj Mahal) called Sheroes’ Hangout and has a book donation drive on Instagram.