Dr. Mela Sarkar

Associate Professor
Dr. Mela Sarkar
Contact Information
Email address: 
mela.sarkar [at] mcgill.ca
514-398-4527 Ext 094468
Alternate phone: 

Duggan House
3724 rue McTavish
Montréal, Quebec H3A 1Y2 

Department of Integrated Studies in Education (DISE)
Professional activities: 

Content curator and editor, BILD blog: http://bild-lida.ca/blog/

Senior advisor, J-BILD journal: http://bild-lida.ca/journal/


Arts, Languages & Literacy Education
Diversity, Identity & Indigenous Topics
Areas of expertise: 
  • Critical sociolinguistics
  • Pedagogical grammar
  • Indigenous language revitalization
  • Second language acquisition and pedagogy



Mela Sarkar was born in Calcutta (now Kolkata), India, to a Ukrainian-Canadian mother and a Bangladeshi Brahmin father who had met as grad students at the University of Manitoba. They settled in Toronto, Canada, where she grew up. Issues of heritage versus dominant languages, plurilingualism/ multiculturalism, and biracial/hybrid identities were therefore woven into the fabric of everyday normal for her. Since taking up her current position at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, in 2001, she has branched out from mainstream second language acquisition research into critical sociolinguistic inquiry, with a focus on empowering minority-language speakers through diversification of their communicative repertoires. Her research projects have included work with preschoolers in Quebec “welcome class” kindergartens, with South Asian women in Montreal learning French, with the language mixing of Hip-Hop-identified youth in Montreal, and with teachers of the Mi’gmaw language in Listuguj Mi’gmaq First Nation in the Gaspé region. She has been involved with the BILD/LIDA (Belonging, Identity, Language and Diversity) research community since its inception in 2014. As a member of BILD, she helps to curate a collectively authored biweekly blog and is senior advisor of the J-BILD journal. She has two children and several grandchildren.


Ph.D., Concordia University, Montreal, 2000.

M.A. in Applied Linguistics, Concordia University, Montreal, 1993.

Diploma in Education, McGill University, Montreal, 1984.

B.A. Honours, East Asian Studies, McGill University, Montreal, 1982.

Selected publications: 

Sterzuk, A., & M. Sarkar. (published online 08 Feb 2024). Belonging, conflict and loss: Learning Ukrainian online during COVID-19. Journal of Language, Identity and Education, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/15348458.2024.2306923

Ortega, Y., Passi, A. L., dela Cruz, J. W. N., Nii Owoo, M. A., Cale, B., & Sarkar, M. (2023). Beginning the quilt: A polygonal and diverse collective seeking new forms of knowledge production. International Journal of Qualitative Methods. https://doi.org/10.1177/16094069231186131

Halcomb-Smith, L., A. Crump, & M. Sarkar. (2020). Publishing as pedagogy: Reflections on innovating in the ivory tower. In S. Palahicky (Ed.), Enhancing learning design for innovative teaching in higher education, pp. 57-82. IGI Global https://www.igi-global.com/book/enhancing-learning-design-innovative-teaching/239385

Sarkar, M. (2017). Ten years of Mi’gmaq language revitalization work: A non-Indigenous applied linguist reflects on building research relationships. Canadian Modern Language Review (special themed issue on Indigenous language teaching, learning, and identities) 73(4), 488-508. https://doi.org/10.3138/cmlr.4082

Burkholder, C., A. Crump, L. Godfrey-Smith & M. Sarkar. (2017). Unofficial multilingualism in an intercultural province: Polyvocal responses to policy as lived experience. Journal of Belonging, Identity, Language and Diversity (J-BILD), 1(1), n.p. http://bild-lida.ca/journal/volume_1_1_2017/unofficial_multilingualism_in_an_intercultural_province/

Sarkar, M., & C. Lavoie. (2014). Language education and Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In J. Cenoz & D. Gorter (Eds.), Minority languages and multilingual education (pp. 85-103). London: Springer-Verlag. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-94-007-7317-2_6

Sarkar, M., J. Metallic, B.A. Baker, C. Lavoie & T. Strong-Wilson. (2013). Siawinnu’gina’masultinej: A language revitalization initiative for Mi’gmaq in Listuguj, Canada. Norris, M.J., Anonby, E., Junker, M.-O., Ostler, N., & Patrick, D. (Eds.) Foundation for Endangered Languages (FELXVII) Proceedings (pp. 39-46). Bath, UK: Foundation for Endangered Languages.

Sarkar, M., M.A. Metallic, J. Vicaire & J. Metallic. (2013). [Re]-Acquiring Mi’gmaq in Listuguj through a “visual-oral grammar” pedagogy. K.S. Hele & J.R. Valentine (Eds.), Proceedings of the 41st Algonquian Conference (pp. 279-298) Albany, NY: SUNY Press.

Low, B., & M. Sarkar. (2012). Le plurilinguisme dans les arts populaires, un terrain inexploré? L’étude du langage mixte du rap montréalais en guise d’exemple. Kinéphanos, 3(1), 20-47. http://www.kinephanos.ca/2012/rap-montrealais/

Sarkar, M., & M.A. Metallic. (2009). Indigenizing the structural syllabus: The challenge of revitalizing Mi’gmaq in Listuguj. Canadian Modern Language Review, 66(1), 49-71. https://muse.jhu.edu/article/362173

Low, B., M. Sarkar, & L. Winer. (2009). "Chus mon propre Bescherelle": Challenges from the Hip-Hop nation to the Quebec nation. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 13(1), 59-82. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2008.00393.x

Sarkar, M. (2009). Getting into med school or becoming a healer? Western medical education and Indigenous knowledges. In J. Langdon (Ed.), Indigenous knowledges, development and education (pp. 109-133). Rotterdam: Sense Publishers. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789087906993_008

Sarkar, M. (2008). “Ousqu’on chill à soir?”: Pratiques multilingues comme stratégies identitaires dans la communauté hip-hop montréalaise. Diversité Urbaine (Numéro thématique : Plurilinguisme et identités au Canada), 27-44. https://www.erudit.org/fr/revues/du/2008-du2547/019560ar.pdf

Bouffard, L. A., & M. Sarkar. (2008). Training 8-year-old French immersion students in metalinguistic analysis: an innovation in form-focused pedagogy. Language Awareness, 17(1), 3-24. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.2167/la424.0

Park, S.M., & M. Sarkar. (2007). Parents’ attitudes toward heritage language maintenance for their children and their efforts to help their children maintain the heritage language: A case study of Korean-Canadian immigrants. Language, Culture and Curriculum, 20(3), 223-235. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ789280


Ph.D. in Educational Studies

M.A. in Second Language Education

B.Ed. TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language)

Graduate supervision: 

Not accepting Master’s or Ph.D. thesis students for 2024-25.

Back to top