'It is a dialect, not a language!': Investigating teachers' beliefs about Mewati


Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


There is a paucity of research on dialect awareness among teachers, particularly in South Asia. This paper investigates teachers' beliefs about Mewati, a vernacular language variety spoken by the Meo people living in Haryana, India. Data was collected primarily through detailed semi-structured interviews from local native Mewati speaking Meo and non-Meo teachers working in rural government and urban private schools. Nearly all teachers expressed unfavourable beliefs towards Mewati and discouraged its use in the classroom. This despite teachers candidly admitting students struggle, often as late as the eighth grade, with the standard language(s) of Hindi and/or English adopted as the medium of instruction. View-ing this as a rite of passage all students must go through, teachers normalized the status quo by calling it a 'natural' and 'transitory' phase. This article argues, however, that these teachers' beliefs and practices leave students struggling for far too long during their crucial years of learning and development. 50% of students leave school before reaching the eighth grade in India (UNICEF, 2005). These high dropout rates found across Mewat and India more generally could partly be explained by student alienation. Part of this alienation is a result of disregarding students' first languages which are stigmatized as 'dialects'. Copyright © 2020 International Association for Research in L1-Education.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-24
JournalL1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature
Publication statusPublished - 2020


Bakshi, P. (2020). 'It is a dialect, not a language!': Investigating teachers' beliefs about Mewati. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, 20, 1-24. doi: 10.17239/L1ESLL-2020.20.01.06


  • Language policy
  • Language ideology
  • Language attitude
  • Teachers' beliefs
  • Mother tongue


Dive into the research topics of ''It is a dialect, not a language!': Investigating teachers' beliefs about Mewati'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.