Don’t Speak Local Languages
An Analysis of Monolingual Habitus in Pakistan
Keywords:monolingual habitus; native languages; English-medium instruction; Pakistan
This study demonstrates how various stakeholders’ orientations about languagein- education policy and linguistic/cultural diversity are shaped by a monolingual habitus in Pakistan. The notion of habitus originates from Bourdieu’s (1991) social theories that refers to ‘a set of dispositions which incline agents to act and react in certain ways. The dispositions generate practices, perceptions, and attitudes which are regular without being consciously coordinated or governed by any “rule”’ (p. 13). Using a mixed methodology that utilized questionnaire and semi-structured interviews, the study presents insights from students, teachers, and school principals within 11 low-fee schools in part of Pakistan. Results suggest that the respondents consider native languages economically and culturally deficient. Their dispositions are marked by linguistic commodification and linguistic shaming as they theorize English-medium policy as an ideal choice. Linguistic and cultural diversity is viewed as a challenge, whereas myths of uniformity of language and culture influence their beliefs. The respondents maintain ideological positivism, which is reflected in their unquestioned legitimization of the normative sociolinguistic order. I conclude that stakeholders have been socialized within a unified linguistic market, dominated by English or Urdu-medium policies; therefore, they envision a monolingual habitus, and fail to imagine alternative policies beyond the current language hierarchy.
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