English? To Teach or not to Teach: That’s the Question

To Teach or not to Teach: That’s the Question

The demand for English in India is market driven, a command of this language is no more a status symbol, it is
now viewed as a survival kit for the millions of Indians who were traditionally the victims of the great ‘English divide’ that stood on the way of the upward social and economic mobility of the masses. The democratization of English in India took place so suddenly and unobtrusively that the policy makers and the ELT practitioners had little time to evolve suitable strategies to respond to the English wave sweeping over the country soon after the liberalization of Indian economy.
The National Curriculum Framework,2005 believes in a multilingual classroom. It believes that an Indian child enters school with not one but often more than one language and is thus capable of learning to communicate in several languages. With this conviction the NCF envisages a system in which the children’s other languages can strengthen English teaching/learning. The Position Paper, NCF 2005 raises a very pertinent question: “Can English language classroom replicate the universal success in the acquisition of basic spoken language proficiency that a child spontaneously achieves outside the classroom in its environment? If so, how?”
Agnihotri and Khanna (1995) have pointed out that we need to capitalize on the asset children have, i.e. fluency in two or three languages even before they enter school, by creating a meta-linguistic awareness, and translating the multilingual and multicultural ethos into concrete classroom transactions. The Position Paper on Teaching English, NCF 2005 has also recommended that teaching of English be woven into the texture of developing strategies of teaching in a multilingual classroom. The teaching of English and the teaching of other languages should play a complementary rather than a competing role in the regional medium primary schools of India.

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