About the Book
This is a contributory volume of essays on the teaching of English in Indian classrooms: the sociolinguistic and psychological aspects, the theories and practice, syllabus design, classroom methodologies and classroom management, materials development and evaluation strategies. It offers exhaustive, concrete and supportive theoretical systems to analyse the situation of teaching English as a second language in India. All the specialist contributors to the volume have been closely involved with the English Language classroom in India in many ways: designing teaching materials, structuring syllabuses and evolving appropriate ESL methodology.
About the Author
S Kudchedkar, the editor of this volume, retired as Head of the Department of English, SNDT Women's University, Mumbai in 1989. She has taught for 25 years in colleges affiliated to the University of Mumbai and has also been a teacher trainer. She has specialised in the teaching of spoken English and has designed course books for basic and intermediate Levels.
We may begin with the question: to whom is this book addressed? We believe it will primarily be of use to school and college teachers of English, either those already in service, who have experience but feel the need for a firmer theoretical grounding, or those with a teaching career in mind. Most Indian universities today provide for a course in English Language Teaching at the M.A. level, either in the form of a core or an elective paper. We have kept such syllabuses in mind when designing the book. But more importantly, we have asked ourselves the question: what does the teacher of English as a foreign language or second language need to know? The obvious answer will be that such a teacher must know how to teach the language effectively, efficiently and economically, given the limited time and facilities available. This involves making a choice between approaches, methods and textbooks, though of course the choice in the Indian educational set-up is not made by the individual school, still less the individual teacher. But the teacher must know the rationale behind the choice that has been made, the principles followed in drawing up the syllabus and writing the textbook. This means an awareness of alternative choices available and the grounds on which the preferred choice was made. The teacher also needs guidance on how to use the textbook in the classroom so as to fulfil the purpose for which it was intended. The objective is to help the pupil become a competent learner of the language.
Indeed it is very important that teachers realise at the outset that what they are teaching is language, not literature, not the content of a textbook or a subject. Language learning is the mastery of skills and it is to this that teachers at the school level must direct their energies. At the college level too, compulsory English courses are increasingly being designed to train students in the language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing. It is assumed that the students have acquired some basic knowledge of the structure of the language at the secondary and higher secondary stages, and so one may build on that foundation to focus attention on language as communication. That there are gaps in this basic knowledge is also widely acknowledged. Hence provision is made for remedial courses. College teachers may of course reach English literature as well, if they are teaching students who have opted for English as their special subject of study. Such teachers may also benefit from guidance; one cannot assume, as has been done hitherto, that every good scholar of literature will automatically teach it well. But the teaching of literature and current debates on the issue are not included here.
In the rest of this introduction, I shall attempt to sketch some of the important debates in language teaching, of which a more thorough account will be found in the following chapters. The current position of English in India needs to be appreciated before one can determine what to teach and how it is to be taught. The information provided in Chapter I makes it clear that the English language was not foisted on India by the British rulers; Indians themselves felt the need for it for a variety of purposes. It was expected that after Independence the demand for English would decrease, as Indian languages would take over many of the functions that English had hitherto performed. However, this prediction was not proved correct; the demand for English has increased phenomenally. Even more than before, it has become the mark of privilege and hence more and more sections of the population aspire to a knowledge of English and attempt to use it. It is still in large measure the language of administration, law, commerce, education and communication, both within and outside the country. Can we then call it a second or a foreign language?
Even when a language does not function as the mother tongue of any section of the population of a country, it may, none the less, fulfil such an important role within the country that it can be termed a second language. When a language has no such role to play, but is studied purely from a cultural or humanistic point of view by those interested in its literature or culture, or from a utilitarian point of view by those who require it for purposes such as business relations or studies abroad, it may be termed a foreign language. In case of a second language, there is bound to be far more exposure to the language in the environment, greater motivation to learn and greater justification for making it a compulsory subject of study.
What is the role that English plays in India? Apart from the fact that there are small sections of the population that speak it with native proficiency, far better than they speak any Indian language, and who therefore claim that it is their mother tongue, English plays a very important role in education, business and administration. It is the medium of instruction for higher education, both academic and technological. Those who seek jobs in private companies or the professions must be proficient in English. It is recognised as an official language for purposes of administration at the national level. It would follow that it should be considered as a second language rather than a foreign language. Looking at it from the point of view of the learner, one notes that exposure to English in large cities is considerable. In a city like Mumbai, English language newspapers are widely read, English programmes on TV are avidly watched, advertisements, shop signs, street names, more and more sections of the population aspire to a knowledge of English and attempt to use it. It is still in large measure the language of administration, law, commerce, education and communication, both within and outside the country. Can we then call it a second or a foreign language?
The Sociolinguistic Context of English Language Teaching in India
Theories of Language Learning
First Language Acquisition vs. Second Language Learning
Approaches, Methods and Syllabus Design-1
Approaches, Methods and Syllabus Design-2
Teaching Materials S. Raniadevi
Inside the Classroom
Testing and Evaluation
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