Bilingualism or Not – The Education of Minorities
Tove Skutnabb-Kangas
140 x 216 mm
Year of Publishing
Territorial Rights
Orient BlackSwan

Bilingualism or Not deals with multilingualism, particularly as it relates to migrant minorities and Indigenous peoples. People from linguistic minorities often have to become multilingual in order to cope in the larger society, while majority representatives may voluntarily become bilingual. The book analyses the problems migrants and Indigenous peoples face in a monolingual educational situation, often having to forego the use of their mother language. It also analyses controversies about their education and places them in the wider political context.

Among the topics covered are:
  1. the mother tongue, its development, significance ow it differs from languages learned later
  2. definitions and measurement of bilingualism
  3. different ways of becoming bilingual for different groups, in the school and the family
  4. bilingualism, cognitive development and school achievement
  5. semilingualism
  6. guest worker policy and immigrant policy
  7. violence in minority education
The introduction to this South Asian edition by Ajit Mohanty of Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi situates the book in the Indian subcontinent and its relevance in today’s globalized world.

Dr. Tove Skutnabb-Kangas, Emerita, guest researcher at the Department of Languages and Culture, University of Roskilde, Denmark and visiting professor at Åbo Akademi University, Department of Education, Vasa, Finland, had a bilingual upbringing in Finnish and Swedish in officially bilingual Finland. She has been actively involved with minorities’ struggle for language rights for over five decades. Her main research interests are in linguistic human rights, linguistic genocide, linguicism (linguistically argued racism), bilingualism and multilingual education, linguistic imperialism and the subtractive spread of English, support for endangered languages, and the relationship between linguistic and cultural diversity and biodiversity. She was the Linguapax Award recipient and the Carl Axel Gottlund Award recipient, both in 2003.

She has written/edited around fifty books and monographs and around 400 book chapters and scientific articles in over thirty languages. Among her path-breaking books in English are Bilingualism or Not – the Education of Minorities (1984); Minority Education: from Shame to Struggle, ed. with Jim Cummins (1988); Linguistic Human Rights. Overcoming Linguistic Discrimination, ed. with Robert Phillipson (1994); Language: A Right and a Resource. Approaching Linguistic Human Rights ed. with Miklós Kontra, Robert Phillipson and Tibor Várady (1999); Linguistic Genocide in Education - or Worldwide Diversity and Human Rights? (2000); Sharing a World of Difference. The Earth's Linguistic, Cultural, and Biological Diversity (with Luisa Maffi and David Harmon, 2003) and Imagining Multilingual Schools: Language in Education and Glocalization, ed. with Ofelia García and María Torres-Guzmán (2006). Multilingual Education  for Social Justice: Globalising the Local (ed. with Ajit Mohanty, Minati Panda and Robert Phillipson) will appear in 2009.

She is presently involved in projects in Nepal and India where Indigenous children are being taught through the medium of their mother tongues. She lives on a small ecological/organic farm in Denmark with husband Robert Phillipson. For more publications, see her home page

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