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CTET English Pedagogy Study Notes

English Pedagogy
Language Education
English Pedagogy
Home/First Language(s) or Mother Tongue Education
English Pedagogy
Second Language Acquisition
English Pedagogy
Learning to Read & Write
The main areas relevant for curricular planning have remained remarkably stable for a long time, despite major changes in social expectations and the academic study of different broad disciplines. It is important that each curricular area is revisited in depth, so that specific points of entry can be identified in the context of emerging social needs. In this respect, the status and role of the arts and health and physical education deserve special attention in view of the peculiar orbit of the 'extra-curricular' to which they were relegated almost a century ago. Aesthetic sensibility and experience being the prime sites of the growing child's creativity, we must bring the arts squarely into the domain of the curricular, infusing them in all areas of learning while giving them an identity of their own at relevant stages. Work, peace, and health and physical education have a similar case. All three have a fundamental significance for economic, social and personal development. Schools have a major role to play in ensuring that children are socialised into a culture of self-reliance, resourcefulness, peace-oriented values and health.
Language in this document subsumes bi-/ multilingualism. And when we talk of home language(s) or mother tongue(s), it subsumes the languages of home, larger kinship group, street and neighbourhood, i.e. languages(s) that a child acquires naturally from her/his home and societal environment. Children are born with an innate language faculty. We know from our everyday experiences that most children, even before they start their schooling, internalise an extremely complex and rule-governed system called language, and possess full linguistic capabilities. In many cases, children come to school with two or three languages already in place at the oral-aural level. They are able to use these languages not only accurately but also appropriately. Even differently talented children who do not use the spoken languages develop equally complex alternative sign and symbol systems for expression and communication.


Language Education

The linguistic diversity of India poses complex challenges but also a range of opportunities. India is unique not only in that a large number of languages are spoken here but also in terms of the number and variety of language families that are represented in those languages. There is no other country in the world in which languages from five different language families exist. Even though they are so distinct structurally as to merit classification as different language families, namely, Indo-Aryan, Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic, Tibeto-Burman and Andamanese, they constantly interact with each other. There are several linguistic and sociolinguistic features that are shared across languages that bear witness to the fact that different languages and cultures have coexisted in India for centuries, enriching each other. Classical langua ges such as Latin, Arabic, Persian,
Tamil and Sanskrit are rich in their inflectional grammatical structure and aesthetic value, and can illuminate our lives, as many languages keep borrowing words from them.

Today, we know for certain that bilingualism or multilingualism confers definite cognitive advantages. The three-language formula is an attempt to address the challenges and opportunities of the linguistic situation in India. It is a strategy that should really serve as a launching pad for learning more languages. It needs to be followed both in letter and spirit. Its primary aim is to promote multilingualism and national harmony. The following guidelines may help us achieve this aim:
  • Language teaching needs to be multilingual not only in terms of the number of languages offered to children but also in terms of evolving strategies that would use the multilingual classroom as a resource.
  • Home language(s) of children, as defined above in 3.1, should be the medium of learning in schools.
  • If a school does not have provisions for teaching in the child's home language(s) at the higherlevels, primary school education must still be covered through the home language(s). It is imperative that we honour the child's home language(s). According to Article 350A of our Constitution, ‘It shall be the endeavour of every State and of
Several studies have shown that bilingual proficiency raises the levels of cognitive growth, social tolerance, divergent thinking and scholastic achievement. Societal or national-level multilingualism is a resource that can be favourably compared to any other national resource.

Every local authority within the State to provide adequate facilities for instruction in the mother-tongue at the primary stage of education to children belonging to linguistic minority groups’.
  • Children will receive multilingual education from the outset. The three-language formula needs to be implemented in its spirit, promoting multilingual communicative abilities for a multilingual country.
  • In the non-Hindi-speaking states, children learn Hindi. In the case of Hindi speaking states, children learn a language not spoken in their area. Sanskrit may also be studied as a Modern Indian Language (MIL) in addition to these languages.
  • At later stages, study of classical and foreign languages may be introduced.


Home/First Language(s)
or Mother Tongue Education

It is clear that through their innate language faculty and interaction with the family and other people around them, children come to school with full-blown communicative competence in their language, or, in many cases, languages. They enter the school not only with thousands of words but also with a full control of the rules that govern the complex and rich structure of language at the level of sounds, words, sentences and discourse. A child knows not only how to understand and speak correctly but also appropriately in her language(s). She can modulate her behaviour in terms of person, place and topic. She obviously has the cognitive abilities to abstract extremely complex systems of language-from the flux of sounds. Honing these skills by progressively fostering advanced-level communicative and cognitive abilities in the classroom is the goal of first-language(s) education. From Class III onwards, oracy and literacy will be tools for learning and for developing higher-order communicative skills and critical thinking. At the primary stage, child's languages must be accepted as they are, with no attempt to correct them. By Class IV, if rich and interesting exposure is made available, the child will herself acquire the standard variety and the rules of correct orthography, but care must be taken to honour and respect the child's home language(s)/mother tongue(s). It should be accepted that errors are a necessary part of the process of learning, and that children will correct themselves only when they are ready to do so. Instead of focusing attention on errors and 'hard spots', it would be much better to spend time providing children comprehensible, interesting and challenging inputs.

It is indeed hard to exaggerate the importance of teaching home languages at school. Though children come equipped with basic interpersonal communicative skills, they need to acquire at school cognitively advanced levels of language proficiency. Basic language skills are adequate for meeting situations that are contextually rich and cognitively undemanding such as peer-group interaction; advanced-level skills are required in situations that are contextually poor and cognitively demanding such as writing an essay on an abstract issue. It is also now well established that higher-level proficiency skills easily transfer from one language to another. It is thus imperative that we do everything we can to strengthen the sustained learning of Indian languages at school.

Literature can also be a spur to children’s own creativity. After hearing a story, poem or song, children can be encouraged to write something of their own. They can also be encouraged to integrate various forms of creative expression.

Language education is not confined to the language classroom. A science, social science or mathematics class is ipso facto a language class. Learning the subject means learning the terminology, understanding the concepts, and being able to discuss and write about them critically. For some topics, students should be encouraged to consult books or talk to people in different languages, or gather material in English from the Internet. Such a policy of languages across the curriculum will foster a genuine multilingualism in the school. At the same time, the language class offers some unique opportunities. Stories, poems, songs and drama link children to their cultural heritage, and also give them an opportunity to understand their own experiences and to develop sensitivity to others. We may also point out that children may effortlessly abstract more grammar from such activities than through explicit and often boring grammar lessons.

While many of the differently abled learners may pick up basic language skills through normal social interactions, they could additionally be provided with especially designed materials that would assist and enhance their growth and development. Studying sign language and Braille could be included as options for learners without disabilities.


Second-language Acquisition

English in India is a global language in a multilingual country. A variety and range of English-teaching situations prevail here owing to the twin factors of teacher proficiency in English and pupils' exposure to English outside school. The level of introduction of English is now a matter of political response to people's aspirations rather than an academic or feasibility issue, and people's choices about the level of its introduction in the curriculum will have to be respected, with the proviso that we do not extend downwards the very system that has failed to deliver.

The goals for a second-language curriculum are twofold: attainment of a basic proficiency, such as is acquired in natural language learning, and the development of language into an instrument for abstract thought and knowledge acquisition through (for example) literacy. This argues for an across-the-curriculum approach that breaks down the barriers between English and other subjects, and English and other Indian languages. At the initial stages, English may be one of the languages for learning activities that create the child's awareness of the world. At later stages,

Within the eight years of education constitutionally guaranteed to every child, it should be possible to achieve basic English- language proficiency in a span of about four years. A multilingual approach to schooling from the very outset will counter possible ill effects such as loss of one's own languages and the burden of sheer incomprehension. All learning happens through language. Higher-order linguistic skills generalise across languages; reading, (for example) is a transferable skill. Improving it in one language improves it in others, while reading failure in one’s own languages adversely affects second-language reading.

English does not stand alone. The aim of English teaching is the creation of multilinguals who can enrich all our languages; this has been an abiding national vision. English needs to find its place along with other Indian languages in different states, where children's other languages strengthen English teaching and learning; and in "English-medium" schools, where other Indian languages need to be valorised to reduce the perceived hegemony of English. The relative success of "English- medium" schools shows that language is learnt when it is not being taught as language, through exposure in meaningful context. Thus English must be seen in relation to other subjects; a language across the curriculum is of particular relevance to primary education, and later all teaching is in a sense language teaching. This perspective will bridge the gap between "English as subject" and "English as medium". We should in this way move towards a common school system that does not make a distinction between " teaching a language" and "using a language as a medium of instruction".

Input-rich communicational environments are a prerequisite for language learning, whether first or second. Inputs include textbooks, learner-chosen texts, and class libraries, allowing for a variety of genres: print (for example, Big Books for young learners); parallel books and materials in more than one language; media support (learner magazines/newspaper columns, radio/audio cassettes); and "authentic" materials. The language environment of disadvantaged learners needs to be enriched by developing schools into community learning centres. A variety of successful innovations exists whose generalisability needs exploration and encouragement. Approaches and methods need not be exclusive but may be mutually supportive within a broad cognitive philosophy (incorporating Vygotskian, Chomskyan, and Piagetian principles). Higher-order skills (including literary appreciation and role of language in gendering) can be developed once fundamental competencies are ensured.

Teacher education needs to be ongoing and onsite (through formal or informal support systems), as well as preparatory. Proficiency and professional awareness are equally to be promoted, the latter imparted, wherever necessary, through the teachers' own languages. All teachers who teach English should have basic proficiency in English. All teachers should have the skills to teach English in ways appropriate to their situation and levels based on some knowledge of how languages are learnt. A variety of materials should be available to provide an input-rich curriculum, which focuses on meaning.

Language evaluation need not be tied to "achievement " with respect to particular syllabi, but must be reoriented to the measurement of language proficiency. Evaluation is to be made an enabling factor for learning rather than an impediment. Ongoing assessment could document a learner's progress through the portfolio mode. National benchmarks for language proficiency need to be evolved preliminary to designing a set of optional English language tests that will balance curricular freedom with standardisation of evaluation that certification requires, and serve to counter the current problem of English (along with Mathematics) being a principal reason for failure at the Class X level. A student may be allowed to "pass without English" if an alternative route for English certification (and therefore instruction) can be provided outside the regular school curriculum.


Learning to Read and Write

Though we strongly advocate an integrated approach to the teaching of different skills of language, the school does need to pay special attention to reading and writing in many cases, particularly in the case of home languages. In the case of second and third, or classical or foreign languages, all the skills, including communicative competence, become important. Children appear to learn much better in holistic situations that make sense to them rather than in a linear and additive way that often has no meaning. Rich and comprehensible input should constitute the site for acquisition of all the different skills of language. In several communicative situations, such as taking notes while listening to somebody on the phone, several skills may need to be used together. We really wish children to read and write with understanding. Language – as a constellation of skills, thought encoders and markers of identity–cuts across school subjects and disciplines. Speech and listening, reading and writing, are all generalised skills, and children's mastery over them becomes the key factor affecting success at school. In many situations, all of these skills need to be used together. This is why it is important to view language education as everybody's concern at school, and not as a responsibility of the language teacher alone. Also, the foundational role of the skills associated with language does not stop with the primary or elementary classes, but extends all the way up to secondary and senior secondary classes as new needs arise in the subject areas. Development of life skills such as critical thinking skills, interpersonal communication skills, negotiation/ refusal skills, decision making/ problem-solving skills, and coping and self-management skills is also very critical for dealing with the demands and challenges of everyday life.

The conventionally trained language teacher associates the training of speech with correctness rather than with the expressive and participatory functions of language. This is why talking in class has a negative value in our system, and a great deal of the teacher's energy g oes into kee ping childr en quiet, or getting them to pronounce correctly. If teachers see the child's talk as a resource rather than as a nuisance, the vicious cycle of resistance and control would have a chance to be turned into a cycle of expression and response. There is a vast body of knowledge available on how talk can be used as a resource, and pre- and in-service teacher education programmes must introduce teachers to this. Designers of textbooks and teacher manuals could also plan and provide precise guidance to teachers regarding ways in which the subject matter can be explored further with the help of small group talk among children, and undertaking activities that nurture the abilities to compare and contrast, to wonder and remember, to guess and challenge, to judge and evaluate. In the orbit of listening, similar detailed planning of activities for incorporation in textbooks and teacher manuals would go a long way in resurrecting the significant skill and value area. It covers the ability to pay attention, to value the other person's point of view, to stay in touch with the unfolding utterance, and to make flexible hypotheses about the meaning of what is being said. Listening, thus, forms as complex a web of skills and values as talking does. Locally available resources include folklore and storytelling, community singing and theatre. Storytelling is appropriate not only for pre-school education, but continues to be significant even later. As a narrative discourse, orally told the stories lay the foundations of logical understanding even as they expand the imagination and enhance the capacity to participate vicariously in situations distant from one's life. Fantasy and mystery play an important role in child development. As a sector of language learning, listening also needs to be enriched with the help of music, which includes folk, classical and popular compositions. Folklore and music also deserve a place in the language textbook as discourses capable of being developed with the help of exercises and activities unique to them. While reading is readily accepted as a focus area for language education, school syllabi are burdened with information-absorbing and memorising tasks, so much so that the pleasure of reading for its own sake is missed out. Opportunities for individualised reading need to be built at all stages in order to promote a culture of reading, and teachers must set the example of being members of such a culture. This requires the nurturing of school and community libraries. The perception that the reading of fiction is a waste of time acts as a major means of discouraging reading. The development and supply of a range of supplementary reading material relevant to all school subjects and across the grades require urgent attention. A great deal of such material, though of varying quality, is available in the market, and could be utilised in a methodical manner to expand the scope of classroom teaching of a subject. Teacher training programmes need to familiarise teachers with such material, and to give them yardsticks by which to select and use it effectively. The importance of writing is well recognised, but the curriculum needs to attend to its innovative treatments. Teacher s insist that children write in a correct way. Whether they express their own thoughts and feelings through writing is not considered too important. Just as the prematurely imposed discipline of pronunciation stifles the child's motivation to talk freely, in his or her own dialect, for instance, the demand for writing in mechanically correct ways blocks the urge to use writing to express or to convey one's ideas. Teachers need to be persuaded and trained to place writing in the same domain as artistic expression, and to cease perceiving it as an office skill. During the primary years, writing abilities should be developed holistically in conjunction with the sensibilities associated with talking, listening, and reading. At middle and senior levels of schooling, note making should receive attention as a skill-development training exercise. This will go a long way in discouraging mechanical copying from the blackboard, textbooks and guides. It is also necessary to break the routinisation of tasks like letter and essay writing, so that imagination and originality are allowed to play a more prominent role in education.


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