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Teaching English as a Second Language in India: Focus on Objectives by Shivendra K. Verma (Central Institute of Foreign Languages Hydrabad)

Smt. S. B. Gardi Department of English,
Maharaja Krishnakumarsinhji Bhavnagar University Bhavnagar
M.A. Semester 3
English Language Teaching 1
Unit 1: The role of English in India 

“The objective of teaching a language… is to enable the learner to believe in such a way that he can participate to some degree and for certain purposes as a member of a degree and for certain purposes as a member of a community other than his own. The degree to which any particular learner may wish to participate will vary. He may seek only to read technical literature, or the may wish to preach the gospel in a foreign country. These varying degrees of participation require different levels of skill in language performance.” (Pit Corder 1973:27)
  • Functionally-determined sub-categorization of languages
    • First Language (L1)
    • Second Language (L2)
    • Foreign Language
    • Classical Language
  •  Objectives of Language Teaching
    • Helping learners to learn language/languages to perform variety of functions
      • Sociable use of language for phatic communication 
      • Network communicative uses: cognition, catharsis, and self-expression 
  • Two fundamental functions 
    1. Helping learners how to ask questions, the most important intellectual ability man has yet developed  
    2. Helping learners to use language effectively in different social networks
  • Languages in a multilingual setting from a system-network
    • Function-determined value contrastive language in this network has a function-determined values of the other languages 
    • The notion of “link language” or “lingua franca” 
      • Encourages wider mobility, national integration, and a sense of tolerance 
      • Effective bilingualism, trilingualism or multilingualism enriching the linguistic repertoire (range) of an individual
  • Teaching, a non unidirectional process
    • Teaching – a bidirectional process / a two way process 
    • Teaching – an interactional process 
    • Learners are not passive recipients of socially accepted language patterns. They play an active role in this teaching-learning process 
    • Learners actively strain, filter, and recognize what they’re exposed to. 
    • The learners are meaning makers. 
  • Learners’ language-learning mechanism:
    • The mechanism gets activated when exposed to that language 
    • Create an atmosphere where learning can take place 
    • Learners learn the language they hear around them 
    • Exposure to rich variety of linguistic material is as important in L1 acquisition as in L2 acquisition
  • The Paradigm Shift
    • From memorizing grammatical rules to helping them interact with people using different registers of language in a variety of situations helps learners to understand linguistic and sociolinguistic rules so learners learn “what to say when and how” 
    • Helps the learners to organize words in sentences and texts effectively keeping in view ‘the topic of discourse’
    • “the addressee-addresser relationship” 
    • Socio-cultural setting 
    • Learning language – not just a process to produce sentences and utterances which are grammatical and acceptable; they must also be appropriate
    •  LSRW Skills
  • A teacher full of life and vigor, resourcefulness and innovative power, love and understanding, can turn a dull class into a lively two-way interactional game. A well qualified, energetic and inventive teacher can be a living model, and act as the best audio-visual aid.
  • Functionally determined subcategories:

  • First Language (L1) : used for performing all essential, personal functions – interpersonal functions.
    • “In order to live, the young human has to be progressively incorporated into social organization, and the main condition of that incorporation is sharing the local magic – that is, the language “ (Firth 1957:185) 
    • L1 is an indispensable instrument of national culture. It is the primary means for the transmission of culture from one generation to another. 
    • “Learning through mother tongue is the most potent and comprehensive medium for the expression of the student’s entire personality.” (Government of India 1956)
    • Education commission in 1902 recommended mother tongue as the proper medium of instruction for all classes up to the higher secondary level.
  • Second language (L2) may be used as an auxiliary or associate language, as a slot-filler, performing those functions which are not normally performed by L1. English as a second language functions primarily as an interstate or international link language. Some of them also use it as in international language of knowledge, trade and industry. 
    • Used by select group of learners in a very restricted set of situations. 
    • The main objective to learn a foreign language is to have direct access to the speakers of these languages and their cultures. 
    • It enables the learners to participate in a foreign language like Russian is used in India for absorbing the cultural patterns
  • Primary aim of Teaching English as a Second Language:
    • The ability to read easily with understanding 
    • The readiness to proceed to more advanced reading stage – reading and comprehension
    • The ability to understand a talk in English on a subject of general experience and interest, clearly spoken and restricted in vocabulary and sentence structure to the range of the syllabus
    • The ability to write comprehensibly in English, and without gross errors, on a familiar topic – range of vocabulary – sentence structures 
    • The ability to carry on comprehensibly a conversation in English on a topic based on experience and command postulated by the syllabus
  • The level of active command to be aimed should be adequate 
  • Groups and group patterns – English functions as “service-language” – promotes intellectual and cultural awareness of the contemporary world we live in – provides “information content” – necessary for modernization of our country
  • To achieve these objectives – introduce a change in our syllabus, methodology of language teaching, materials, training programmes, attitudes to learners and their language, and the system of evaluation 
  • Infrastructural changes – atmosphere, functions, facilities, roles and responsibilities, proper climate and facilities to allow individuals to realize to encourage them to use these capabilities for enrichment and for personal lives for social welfare.


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