As a citizen of a developing country like India, I am the first in my family who has aspired to pursue a higher education and research abroad with an international exposure and an opportunity to demonstrate my potential skills in the context of minoritized international students’ vulnerabilities. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program, I worked as a teacher educator in India for almost five years. During that span, I have worked closely with pre-service and in-service teachers in rural India, with strong interest and passion in curriculum development and coordination, educational management, educational administration, supervision, developing mentor-mentee relationship through academic advising and support. I earned my master’s degrees from India in three different yet related fields of study: English Literature, Education, and English Language Teaching. These educational experiences provided me a much sought-after platform of applying my knowledge of English and education in the practical field of teaching. Being an international student from India, a non-native speaker of English, a multilingual myself being proficient in three languages (Bengali, English & Hindi) constitutes my positionality for my research interests. My research interests focus highly on English language learners and families in rural settings, collaborative educational partnerships, developing linguistically and culturally responsive pedagogy, translanguaging, and teacher education based on the principles of social justice and equity.
India as a multilingual country with rich linguistic and cultural diversity, has recognized the needs of a globalized language like English since the early ages of commercialization and liberalization. There has often been a binary constructed between urban education and rural education in India, posing a disparity in the educational opportunities for the children. I was a witness of this huge disparity as being educated in a private English-medium school with most of the educational resources, while I could notice and experience a handful of challenges and huge gap in the suburban and rural areas during my school internship program as a student and eventually as I joined the profession of a teacher educator. I found in education, lack of enthusiasm, use of unscientific and ineffective teaching methodologies, outdated teaching practices impeding its promising future in India. My interest in working with the school-going children and the teacher trainees became stronger when I experienced the ignorance, fear and lack of confidence engulfing the young minds hindering their overall development. My area of focus was the low poverty rural settings, where I could identify a handful of barriers hindering the process of overall educational development especially in English education. Most of the rural schools being based on regional language educational setting, the need or importance of realizing English as one of the most significant subjects for overall development seem to be lagging. The majority of rural schools having regional languages like Bengali, Hindi and Urdu as their medium of instruction. The students are not provided enough exposure to learning English, which in turn pose problems in higher education. The students, mostly the first-generation learners, do not get the necessary educational environment at home and lack encouragement from their parents. The issues of poverty, low funding for teacher education, lesser realization of the need of learning English as a second language, low accountability of the teachers build up to the grave situation. Lack of use of appropriate teaching aids, structured lesson plans, scaffolded learning and differentiated instruction make student learning and achievement difficult in the rural areas. With my background experience of all these challenging educational contexts during my professional encounters, my goals for the future would be to identify the strength and barriers towards the spread of English education among the non-native English language learners not only in rural India but also in the broader international context and work towards a possible solution.