Teaching English as a Foreign Language in India

Bachelorarbeit, 2015

30 Seiten



I The Role of English in India
1 The British Period (1800 - 1947)
2 Independence
3 Is English a Foreign Language in India ?
4 The Global Use of English

II Evolution of Teaching Methods in India
1 The Vedic Period (ca. 4000-1000 BCE)
2 The Brahmanic / Later Vedic Period (1000-500 BC)
3 The Jainistic Period (since ca. 100 BCE)
4 Buddhistic Education (500 BCE - 200 AD)
5 The Muslim Period (1200 - 1858)
6 Gandi’s Education Philosophy
7 Independence, since 1947

III Today
1 The Ministry of Human Resource and Development
2 The Department of School Education and Literacy
3 The National Council for Teacher Education
4 The Indian School System
5 General Education
6 Higher Secondary Education
7 English as a Medium in School


List of Figures

List of Abbreviations



India is often called a museum of teaching methods. That is because, in India still the direct method and other structural approaches are used. From the German point of view these methods are interesting, because in German teacher education, these methods are banned and therefore cannot be used or studied. It is the more interesting for a teacher in practical work to have knowledge about these relatively old methods of teaching, because they have their positive sides.

It is one big goal of this work to have a look at the positive sides of structural approaches in English language teaching.

These might be observed in India.

First of all, we want to have a look at the role of English in India

I The Role of English in India

1 The British Period (1800 - 1947)

When the British came to India, the school system was a large network of schools all over the country. Most of the villages had their own primary school, with a single teacher teaching one multiple class, where senior students acted as monitors to help the teacher. The teachers were badly trained and paid even less salaries.

In the beginning of the British occupation, mostly Christian missionaries built institu- tions where education was provided and they used education also as a means of Chris- tianization.

By the end of the eighteenth century, when the East India Company (EIC) had brought all India under its control, its leaders started thinking about the education of the in- habitants. Before that, there had only been education for British people, organized by the EIC. To educate the natives was a strategy whose ulterior aim was to create a feeling of awe and respect for Europeans among Indians. Between 1824 and 1835, classes in English were started and the first British schools were established. Among the Indians, there was a certain demand for Western knowledge. English was the language of edu- cation, it was the medium of instruction and it was also used for the dissemination of Western morals and values. There was a possibility of English becoming the language of the Far East so English would become the language of commerce.

In 1834, Lord Macaulay had been made chief of the Public Instruction. He decided that only a selected few could be educated. He wanted to educate “[..] a class of persons Indian in blood and colour, but English in tastes, in opinions, in morals and in intellect.” Macaulay (1835) Through filtration, education would then percolate to the masses. During Macaulay’s regency there was a rapid growth of English schools and colleges in India. The education was characterized by English ideals, religious neutrality and English was the medium of instruction. In the words of (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 39), Macaulay “transplanted” the “alien system” Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy (2006: 42) from Britain to India.

In 1853 when the Charter Act, the law defining the role of the EIC, came up for renewal, Indians were allowed for Civil Services Examination but English remained the language of administration. This raised the for English in India a lot.

In 1857, three universities were started in Chennai, Mumbai and Colcatta. In 1858 the Crown took over form the EIC. India was a British colony.

Around the end of the 19th century, a university degree had become a passport for a to sure employment in the administration. The passport to the university was the schoolleaving certificate. As a result. English medium schools sprang up in and around the university towns. English had become a “prestige language” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 54) in India. It was the language of education, commerce, and administration. A job in Government service was a mark of status in India among the educated class. English education was producing “gentlemen-clerks of the most obedient type” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 79).

The concept of a printed book did not exist until the sixteenth century, when the Euro- peans brought the printing press to India. Since the printers had problems printing the vernacular languages, it was an advantage for the English language. 130 newspapers and periodicals were established around 1838 to 1851. Printing had also not been in- volved in education, learning was mostly imparted through the oral mode, books were rare. The expansion of the print-media also expanded the growth of English in urban areas.

The introduction of railway lines and telegraph and postal services encouraged communication in English. The widening urban network with the new communication facilities helped English, Western technology and trade. All of this was rising the demand for competence in English.

The common language assisted the growth of unity of thought among the educated class of India. English was beginning to become the lingua franca of India. Many grad- uates, who received their degrees in Mumbai, Colcata, Chennai and other cities, went to Britain to complete their education at one of the British universities. In 1902, the Indian universities Commission stated that “many students pass through the entire university without [...] command of the language.” (cited after Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 65).

In 1904, Lord Curzon (Fig. 2) drew the attention of the government to education pol- icy: “Ever since the cold breath of Macaulay’s rhetoric passed over the field of Indian languages and Indian Textbooks the elementary education of the people in their own language has shrivelled and pined.” (Pattanayak 1990: 17) Lord Curzon thought that the Indian model represented a “slavish imitation” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 65) of the English model and stated that Indian education was a “mere shell with- out a kernel in it” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 65). As a result, the study of vernacular was allowed incipiently at the lower levels after 1902. After three or four years of schooling in the mother tongue, English was taught. These streams were avail- able in addition to the English-medium schools. The Government felt that students who had been through a complete vernacular stream, were mentally more efficient. But English continued to be the language of higher education. Curzon established teacher training institutions at various levels. He raised the standard of higher education by re- organization, he reformed the curriculum and introduced grant in aid, mother tongue as a medium of instruction became common at the primary stage of education and founded scholarships for studying aboard.

In the 1920s, the English-educated class took over the English language and started changing its character. The nationalist movement stripped made the language a tool of communication for projecting national aspirations and sensibilities. As a result, even the Declaration of Independence by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru on 15th August 1947 was written in English language.

2 Independence

On July 1st 1947, the British Parliament passed the the Indian Independence Act. In- dia became a Republic on January 26th 1950. The Indian constitution was written in English. Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of India, stated that, on the long run, Hindi should become the national language, but for an indefinite period, people of “non-Hindi areas” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 113) should be able to correspond with their government in English.

The administration and the judiciary continued to use English. The railway, post and telecommunication network and bureaucracy was also still transacting in English. But the English language became disliked by the nationalistic movement. But the will of nationalists to throw out then English language together with the British met the resistance of those, who had come to power by English education and they had the support of others who were saying, that the English language was the unifying power in India which also helped organizing the resistance against the British occupation. When in 1960, President Rajendra Prasad tried to make Hindi the language of the Supreme Court and all High Courts, there were immediate repercussions in the non-Hindi areas. There even were riots by an anti-Hindi movement in the south in 1965. The govern- ment remembered Nehru’s assurance and decided that every state should have com- plete freedom to transact its business in the language of its own choice, communi- cation from one state to another should be either in English or accompanied by an English translation, and English would be used as the language of transaction at the central level. In 1967 an law was passed which said: “English will continue as an as- sociate official language for an indefinite period.” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 123).

Since Hindi was not accepted by the other regions, English continued to be the academic language, because it was necessary for the academic staff, to publish and communicate with other Indian regions. The first English Language Teaching Institute (ELTI) had been established in Allahabad in 1954 with the collaboration of the British Council. The structural approach (audio- lingual method, oral-aural method, situational method) was accepted in India and re- placed the grammar-translation method. In 1958 the Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages was established in Hyderabad in collaboration with the British Coun- cil. Its objective was to train teachers of English, produce English teaching materials and help to improve the standard of English teaching in India. A Regional Institute of English for South India (RIE) was established in Bangalore in 1963. A second RIE was set up in Chandigarh and more than twelve ELTIs all over India, conducting teacher training and producing materials. Some states started State Institutes of English, others appointed special officers for English teaching, attached to the Directorates of Educa- tion. District centres were also started for the training of teachers at the school level in some states.

Teaching English Literature (TELI) was a humanistic discipline which was supposed to have ennobling and mind-training properties. The standard canon of English literature was Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton, Dryden, Pope, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley and Browning. No serious attempt was made to evolve indigenous approaches to the teaching of English in India. There was no attempt to redefine teaching English in postcolonial India. As Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy (2006: 137)put it:

"‘Teaching was (and is even now) carried on mechanically as a ritual with- out any involvement whatsoever on the part of teachers or learners; the whole exercise was (and is) examination-degree-centred and market-driven."’ But“English in India has become international oriented than British oriented. ”(Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 140) By the turn of the 20th century, there were more users of English in India than in Britain. There is a huge range of dialects, accents and varieties and English is also the state language Nagaland and Meghalaya.

3 Is English a Foreign Language in India ?

In the terminology of Crystal (2012) English in India is a second language (L2). In the three-circle model of Kachru (2006) it is located in the "‘outer circle"’ of English. En- glish as a foreign language is the circle where English is taught and learned as a foreign language (FL). English is not considered as a foreign language in India but it’s also not included in the list of officially recognized languages of India. (Krishnaswamy and Kr- ishnaswamy 2006: 145) state that “the status of English in India is unique.”.

“English of Indians is neither a foreign language nor a second language nor a dialect of English - it is a modulect, a ’lect’ that works as a module.” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 169)

"‘The wide spread use of English in India and the large number of Indians using it, has resulted in a distinct variety, that maybe called ’Indian English’."’ (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 143) Indian English is English as a second language. There is no baby talk in English to make it a home language. For the majority of the English-educated people, English is a street or office language. English in India is domain-specific and register-based: for bureaucratic, administrative, academic, legal, technical and scientific purposes, for creative writing, journalism and other limited social purposes.

The Oxford English dictionary lists about 1000 words of Indian origin. More than 1000 words of English origin are used in every Indian language. Even in rural areas, words like motor, car, switch, bus, train, stamp, letter etc were used in India from the begin- ning. Still today, the rural areas are affected by English words and culture from televi- sion.

English is not really a foreign language to India. India was occupied for 150 years. The English established the Indian school system. And still, English is a tool of communi- cation in many parts of Indian life. "‘Teaching English as Forgeign Language"’ means to start from scartch. Like there was no English in the life of the student whatsoever. This is of course not the case. There are English television shows, English signs every- where, there is English plates on the shops and government and train company build- ings. When indians grow up, English has a lot of influence in their life. But the English teacher cannot make a difference, if someone already knows some English words or English chunks. Of course it’s a good starting point. But the main things, like grammar, literature, the rules of writing (orthography) all the basics, they have to learn like it was a foreign language, English is not the mother tongue and it is not even close to bilingual use. The better term would be teaching English as a second language.

4 The Global Use of English

English has become part of the IT revolution. It is spoken by 1.5 billion people around the world. 350 million people use English as a mother tongue; the rest as a foreign or second language. English language no longer a language of national, cultural or class identity. English is the language of the Internet. 80% of the websites use English and 3/4 of all the world’s mail, telexes and cables are in English. Most of the software is in English and all the IT giants, like Microsoft, Macintosh and IBM are based in English speaking countries. English is the language that contains all the knowledge in all the disciplines. Even China has adopted a policy to make every student literate in English and Singapore has declared English as its common language. As a result, the English is changing. It is losing its culture, class and race. It has become a tool for interna- tional communication. Since English has become international, it does not belong to any one culture. This cultural neutrality has made it acceptable for a vast majority of people all over the world. English for professional purposes like facing interviews, writing resumes, writing reports, conducting campaigns, writing letters, participating in meetings, seminars, conferences, and discussions, are demanded. That is the ability to communicate one’s ideas and attitudes is the expected skill and not the ability to interpret a literary text. It is communication skills in English that have a worldwide market, because English has become the language of business and commerce, trade, technology, journalism, electronic media, the Internet and IT-services. If one’s accent is internationally intelligible, the market is wide open for an Indian.

The increasing employment opportunities for English-knowing educated Indians have made the English language acceptable for a vast majority of people of contemporary India . English is a global advantage for India over countries like China. "‘India is at peace with English"’(Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 157). Even states ruled by communist parties have changed their English language policies, because English is no longer viewed as a class barrier. “English for all” (Krishnaswamy and Krishnaswamy 2006: 157) is the new slogan. Indians have realized that English is no longer a symbol of colonialism but a tool for international communication. Since English is used all over the world, people in different countries have made it a medium to express their own cultures.

With the advent of the IT revolution, the demand for English has increased. There is a big motivation to become computer and English-literate. Lots or jobs were created for Indians during the era of globalization in outsourcing centres, call, centres, medical transcriptions centres, book-keeping for various multinational companies, software development etc. India is providing cheap and skilled labour for multinational companies. Highly qualified Indians are teaching English in many parts of the world. Many foreigners come to India for medical treatment, to learn yoga or even for employment. All this is only possible because India speaks English.

This move away from from an elitist use of English might change the demographics of the English speaking population in India. Then English will become a second language for most Indians in all registers without restrictions.


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Teaching English as a Foreign Language in India
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The author of this text is not a native English speaker. Please excuse any grammatical errors and other inconsistencies.
teaching, english, foreign, language, india
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Thomas Ohse (Autor:in), 2015, Teaching English as a Foreign Language in India, München, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/418384


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