The Central Institute of Indian Languages was set up on the 17th July, 1969 with a view to assisting and co-ordinating the development of Indian languages. The Institute was charged with the responsibility of serving as a nucleus to bring together all the research and literary out-put from the various linguistic streams to a common head and narrowing the gap between basic research and developmental research in the fields of languages and linguistics in' India.
The Institute and its five Regional Language Centres are thus engaged in research and teaching, which lead to the publication of a wide-ranging variety of materials. Preparation of materials designed for teaching/learning 'at different levels and suited to specific needs is one of the major areas of interest of the Institute. Basic research relating to the acquisition of language and study, of language in its manifold psycho-social relations constitute another broad range of its interest. The publications will include materials produced by the members of the staff of the Central Institute of Indian Languages and its Regional Language Centres and associated scholars from Universities and Institutions, both Indian and foreign.
The Central Institute of Indian languages has initiated a Basic Course Series in major Indian languages to provide suitable and comprehensive material for learning and teaching the language concerned for Indians. In a language teaching situation, the teacher is expected to combine the roles of a psycho-linguist, socio-linguist, 1inguist, language pedagogue, a creator of materials, a literary critic and a testing and evaluation expert. Most of his competences are naturally reflected in the materials, which simultaneously are graded from simple to complex, known to the unknown and contrived to the natural. This is a very difficult task.
After research and experimentation we have come out with more questions than answers at each stage of the material. For example, how basic is basic? What is grading? In what way can linguistic and cultural matter be graded? Is question, with which most learning begins, simpler than statement? How does one move from a purely language based competence to creating literary sensibilities? How does one build into the material conceptual prose? How are lessons to be presented? Should the translated discourse structure be made to look similar to the original discourse structure? Questions such as these have been answered differently by different teachers and researchers. This search is a continuing phenomenon. Therefore, these materials represent our unfinished education in this area.
The format for the basic course is the result of a consensus arrived at by the lecturers and Principals of the five Regional Centres of the Institute engaged in the teaching of major Indian languages. This is the product of almost eight years of teaching and research. This format is flexible and has left much scope for individual authors to innovate. 1£ these courses help the desirous to learn and stimulate those interested in applied linguistics, with special reference to the teaching of Indian languages as second/foreign languages, then the Institute would feel rewarded.
I congratulate the teachers, the trainees the supervisors and the press and publication people who have brought out the publication in a creditable manner.
Language learning is a very complex activity, Its success is largely determined by the method, medium, material and the motivation of the learner, The highly organised curriculum and planning show the way to achieve the educational goal with ease and rapidity.
The present Intensive Course emphasises the listening and speaking proficiency of the learners of the Standard Colloquial Assamese in the basic course stage of the Regional Language Training Programme of Central Institute of Indian Languages, This is a companion to other volumes such as the Phonetic Reader, the Script Book, the Hindi Assamese Common Vocabulary and several other reading and writing materials -envisaged by the Central Institute of Indian Languages.
The Assamese language training programme of Central Institute of Indian Languages is of the duration of 10 months which comprises of 1100 clock hours. The Basic Course has 'about 450 clock hours of instruction with primary emphasis 'on the spoken language. The present Intensive Course covers 300 hours of intensive instruction in the basic course stage. While preparing this a sequence of four basic steps, namely presentation, explanation, repetition and transfer has been followed and the following main and sub-objectives as set our by Central Institute of Indian Languages for the basic courses in different Indian. Languages have been kept in view.
Of the above objectives the present Intensive Course is based on the objectives 2 to 5. Other objectives have also been partly covered as there can't be any water-tight separation between these. This book covers 300 clock hours of the basic course and the lest of the instructional hours are devoted for such items as script teaching, practice in language laboratory, reading etc. The teachable items have been carefully graded considering the various factors like proceeding from the simple to the complex, from the known to the unknown and presenting only the content relevant to the user etc. This book can be very profitably used also as a text book far any generalised second language Assamese course, and with some care, even as a semi-instructional material.
There are atleast 3 principles which characterise an Intensive Course. These are (i) complete concentration on one purpose, (ii) high degree of curriculum organisation and planning, and (iii) the separation of the functions of teaching and drilling. The first principle entails upon the learner that he concentrates on the learning task, and on the teacher and the material producer that they present the learning material in a systematic and consistent manner taking one step at a time and concentrating, wherever possible, on one structure at a time. The second principle advocates a high degree of organisation and meticulous planning. As the allocated time is precious and valuable, the careful planning of what is required by the student is indispensible. The selection and gradation of the linguistic patterns and the presentation adopted in this volume will certainly facilitate the learner to acquire the language rapidly. With regard to the third principle, there is a strong belief that the teacher who is responsible for introducing patterns, alone can perform the function of drilling better. But some scholars feel that it is inadvisable to have the same teacher for both the functions. They hold the opinion that to ensure the optimum fulfilment of teaching and drilling there should be a separation of responsibilities. Although this principle has no direct relevance to the preparation of instructional material as such, the teachable patterns in this volume covered in the body of the lesson, whereas the drills and exercises are presented separately after the body of the les on.
A few books have been written and published for teaching and learning Assamese as a second language or as a foreign language. They are Assamese Tutor by Paresh Chandra Deva Sarma. 1967, A guide to Assamese by Nirmale- swar Sarma, 1963, Assamese Self Taught by Bidhu Bhusan Dasgupta, and Assamese for All by Dr. Mukunda Madhab Sarma. In addition to these, AIR, Gauhati also used to broad- cast Assamese lessons for some time. The present work takes into account the merits of the above and differs from these in terms of selection, gradation and presentation. It is not possible to teach the whole of the language in any course or to cover the structures of the whole of the language in any single book. A material producer, therefore has to carefully arrive at decisions as regards.
As language is a social activity, the utterances learned and produced should be (acceptable' and 'appropriate' to the behaviour patterns of the community in which it is spoken The criterion of 'appropriateness' in most of the materials has not been adequately considered Over-reliance on the dictionary usages and traditional grammar makes the materials artificial. Secondly gradation is another important criterion that has been ignored in the existing materials. Most of the available materials do not pay adequate attention to gradation. After selection, the linguistic items should be carefully graded. Related items should go together. Simple matters precede and difficult matters follow. Vocabulary load also has to be accordingly distributed : known/familiar words earlier and unknown words later. There shall be planned repetition of the previously introduced items and vocabulary before new items and vocabulary are introduced in the new lesson. The present work attempts to follow the principle of gradation to a great extent. Thirdly, presentation is the most important factor about which the present work is very much concerned. The linguistic items and the required vocabulary have been built in into dialogues in each lesson in such a way that the situation itself makes the meaning clear. The learners can rightly apply their guesswork and infer the meaning, and in some cases, however, the teacher will be required to help the learners by demonstration and explanation.
The present work gives due weight age to pattern practice and drills. Various kinds of drills, such is repetition drill, build-up drill, substitution drill, variation drill, transformation drill, expansion drill, contraction drill are presented after every dialogue. Drills would give additional practice to establish the patterns 'introduced through the dialogues of the lesson as habit. Research conducted shows that any item repeated several times is easily memorised.
Pattern practice and dialogue alone will not be sufficient to meet the needs of the learners in communication. "Activities such as pattern practice, dialogues, questions, answers are 'pretend' language learning activities." Jakobvits, 1972). This does not mean that these 'pretend' activities would not have any impact on the process of language learning. It depends upon how far these conversational transactions are 'real' and 'authentic'. It is obvious that the class-room can't be a real conversational setting for all purposes. Hence it is quite imperative on the part of the material producer to provide the learners with conversational rules or the communicative rules of the speech community whose language is being learnt The present work tries to Overcome this problem by providing the learners with many different types of conversations m natural setting and also by giving various kinds of drills.
With regard to the teaching method adopted, the Central Institute of Indian Languages is highly convinced by theory and experience that no single method can explain and guide second language learning as a developmental process. The complexity of language teaching can be met only with flexible and many sided procedures and techniques. Therefore, an integration of many procedures into a method is highly appreciated. In this way our approach is eclectic which is open to all valuable suggestions from different methods.
Unlike other instructional materials the present book uses Assamese Script for the presentation of the lessons from the beginning to the end. Roman transcription has not been given. However, Devanagari transliteration has been given up to lesson 10. This will help the learners to read the materials till they become conversant with the 'Assamese alphabet as there is almost one to one correspondence between the Assamese and Devanagari alphabet. In many cases, there are variations between the pronunciation of words and their spelling in Assamese script, and, therefore, the presence of a teacher or some help from a tutor who would model the pronunciation for the learners is essential. The use of Assamese script in a composite course like this will enable the learners to read the written materials fluently at a later stage. Our experience shows that mastery of the script can be achieved within to clock-hours. After having learnt the script in 10 clock hours in 10 days the learners are able to read the' material in Assamese script without Devanagari transliteration. No effort has been made in this book to establish the phoneme-grapheme correspondences as there is a separate Phonetic Reader for this purpose. However, the general pronunciation rules have to be given by the teacher wherever necessary.
The equivalent English translation of each sentence m the dialogue is also given. This English might sound strange at places as it is designed mainly to represent the Assamese structure without destroying the meaning of the dialogue.
This Intensive Course consists of 15 Units which are further sub-divided into 78 lessons. A Unit is designed in such a way that it covers a group of related grammatical patterns of a major grammatical structure. This is further divided into several teachable patterns spread over the component lessons of that Unit. Each lesson covers atlease one of the structural patterns of a major grammatical structure focused in that Unit. In other words, while each lesson focuses on a structural pattern, the Unit 'focuses on a group of related structural patterns that form a simple major grammatical structure. Each lesson in turn, has five components namely (i) Dialogue/Narration (only a few lessons are in the form of narration), (ii) Drills, (iii) Exercises. (iv) Vocabulary and (v) Grammatical Notes. A few lessons contain the sixth component namely (vi) Cultural Notes. Each dialogue presents a meaningful situation with the introduction of two or three teachable patterns. As the number of lesson increases the patterns are reinforced m the subsequent lessons However, other following components such as drills, exercises, grammatical notes etc. focus only on those specific new patterns that are introduced in each lesson. Depending on the need of the class the teacher may carry on drilling the previously introduced patterns. The drills are immediately followed by different kinds of exercises. This is a selected learning activity that is guided by clear and adequate instructions. The exercises in Intensive Course are carefully organised to develop the learner's repertoire of performance strategies, Since each exercise presupposes a certain amount of knowledge of linguistic rules the exercises immediately follow the structural drills where the linguistic rules are practised and consolidated. Each lesson has a number of exercises that are intimately connected with the structure introduced.
The vocabulary items of each lesson are listed separately according to their order at occurrence in the dialogue. This includes only the items that occur for the first time. The English equivalent is given against each Item. This meaning is confined to the context of reference in the dialogue. That is, the shades of meaning and other relevant information’s of the use of an item are not given in the present work. However the teacher has the liberty of bringing the various uses of vocabulary wherever felt necessary. The selection of the vocabulary items is largely determined by the choice of wide variety of situations in which the learners are likely to participate. In order to have an equitable distribution, the Recall Vocabulary, semantically classified) which is likely to be published by CIIL has been kept in view. Besides, the Hindi Assamese Common Vocabulary (Under Publication) may also be referred to. It is inevitable that the similarity and difference in terms of form and meaning of the vocabulary of the target language and the mother tongue of the learner are likely to help or hamper acquiring the vocabulary or the target language. The approximate number of vocabulary covered in this Intensive Course is 2500.
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