The Plight Of English Learning In Rural And Suburban India
India has a large number of spoken languages. 1652 to be precise, but out of these only 16 are recognized legally, socially and constitutionally. The constitution of India demands the local authorities to use the mother tongue as the medium of knowledge in schools, due to which around 43 languages are used across the country as a medium of knowledge and instruction. After analyzing the situation of the rural and suburban India, with respect to the teaching of English as a language, it is fair to say that the picture looks bleak and rather unfortunate. The pedagogical, civilizational and conventional textbook approach and educational practices alarmingly reveal that the so-called “English-Medium” method of education in small schools catering to the underprivileged children often lead to a hampered acquisition of English, to such an extent that it even deprives the students of the access to study material across other subjects. The students have no other options and since the students who end up enrolling in this self-proclaimed “English medium” schools end up with a heavy disadvantage, because they are isolated for the language and its applications. Let us dive a little deeper into it now…
Kids in the backward part of the country have very little access to English speaking environments, like movies, television shows, music, unlike the kids in the urban areas who are heavily exposed to all of the above. Without this opportunity, the rural kids have little grasp on the English language and learn it like a subject and not a language. Unlike science and mathematics, prevailing English teaching techniques require a certain level of expertise and know-how and at the same time a stronghold over the language as well. Surprisingly, in mostly every suburban and rural school, the English teachers are rather illiterate in terms of the language. Further, the design of the prevailing course curriculum is not scrutinized to the gaps in the local infrastructure levels, these are the issues we have discussed above, lack of skilled teachers, non-English speaking environment. The teachers who are only there for the sake of it mostly read out a lesson written in English in the classroom in order to wind the syllabus up without feeding even a small amount of relevant information to the students, who derive little to no value from these English classes. Teachers often use translation in order to force feed the kids but impede their ability to learn the language fundamentally. Students are given homework on a daily basis, but it also focuses on repeating whatever they have mugged up in the classroom, adding little to no value again. But things change drastically in the case of adults, for whom English is taught to improve and enhance employability. Existing infrastructure and modern techniques are confined only to adults. Whereas the kids in an elementary school of rural and suburban areas are still taught through rote rhymes and stories without the opportunity to comprehend them.
In the modern era, economic and cultural adjustability are wreathed with the knowledge of English to a very high extent, the rural poor are thus deprived of opportunities of advancing their careers. Due to the fact that regional language prevails as the apex medium of conversation, these students sit for higher secondary examinations without the ability to read or comprehend.