Challenges to English Language Teaching in the Twenty-First Century: An Indian Perspective
The IUP Journal of English Studies
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Over the past few decades, India has woken up to the importance of English Language. In a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as India, English is often seen as a connecting thread. For Indians, English symbolizes better education and better culture. It opens the door to greater job mobility and economic success. To cater to the ever increasing demand for English, a number of “English Medium” schools have sprung up all over the country. However, on a closer look, we see that most of these schools fail to deliver what they promise. What are the reasons that prevent them from doing so? What are the challenges the teachers of English Language face today? What efforts should be made to help them overcome these challenges? These are some of the issues that will be discussed in this paper.
As early as 1861, the University of Calcutta adopted a resolution that all University
Examinations should be conducted in English, thus propelling all schools to introduce
English as a subject (Alam 1998). Since then, the importance of English language has
continuously been growing in India. In a country as culturally and linguistically diverse as
India, English is seen as a connecting thread. For Indians, English symbolizes better
education and better culture. It opens the door to greater job mobility and economic
success. To cater to the ever increasing demand for English, a number of “English Medium”
schools have sprung up all over the country. However, a closer look at them reveals that
the quality of English being taught in these schools does not meet the required standards.
While the students are exposed to the language at a very basic level, little or nothing is
done to ensure that they can use the language practically. They lack the ability to use the
language for effective communication. Disparity in the quality of English Language taught
in schools increases the existing divide between the English Language-rich and English
Language-poor students (Meganathan 2011). By the time the latter reach higher classes,
they find themselves at a lifelong disadvantage vis-à-vis their English-speaking counterparts.
English Studies Journal, English Communication, Increased Demand, English Learning, ICT-Proficient Students, Challenges, English Language Teaching, Twenty-First Century, Indian Perspective.