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International Journal of the Sociology of Language

Founded by Fishman, Joshua A.

Ed. by Garcia Otheguy, Ofelia / Duchêne, Alexandre / Coulmas, Florian

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Volume 2018, Issue 253


Language medium and a high-stakes test: Language ideology and coaching centers in North India

Chaise LaDousa
Published Online: 2018-07-28 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0025


The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) offers its set of examinations in a “medium”, whether in a language recognized by the Constitution of India or in English. The notion of medium in the examination borrows from the notion of medium in schooling where it refers to the primary language of pedagogy. Although not all students who have studied in a particular medium in school and university go on to attempt the UPSC examinations in the same medium, most do. This article reports on fieldwork conducted in 2014 in coaching centers in Delhi’s Mukherjee Nagar and in the city of Varanasi. It traces some of the ways in which people hold ideologies about the significance of studying in one medium or another. Much ideological reflection, for example, was oriented to the fierce protesting that broke out in various locations in Delhi during the summer of 2014, just before my fieldwork. The protests were focused on changes made to the UPSC examination in 2011 which initiated increasingly poor results among Hindi-medium aspirants. The article also answers the call of scholars to consider institutional practices – especially as they change – alongside ideological reflections because, in the case of coaching centers, practice and ideology are not aligned.

Keywords: language ideology; institutions; Hindi; English


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About the article

Published Online: 2018-07-28

Published in Print: 2018-08-28

Citation Information: International Journal of the Sociology of Language, Volume 2018, Issue 253, Pages 103–124, ISSN (Online) 1613-3668, ISSN (Print) 0165-2516, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/ijsl-2018-0025.

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