The teaching of English in India has always been difficult circumstances. This is so because of the large population of the country, bleak economic conditions, the cultural and social diversities, insufficient men and material etc. Let us discuss some of these here.
Lack of clear-cut policy
One of the main reasons for the poor standard of English is the lack of a clear-cut policy. There have been frequent changes in the policy of the government towards the teaching and learning of English. Though English is taught as a compulsory subject, only the pass mark is taken into consideration. As the percentage of low achievers has been ever increasing, the Government has decided not to consider marks in English as essential for admission into a university course. The educationalists and politicians differ on the role and status of English in India. If we are to aim at good standards in English, it is high time that the Government takes a strong decision to formulate and implement appropriate policies that promote students’ learning of English.
Lack of exposure to the language
Most of the Indian students are exposed to their mother tongues. They do not get adequate opportunities either to listen to or speak in English. They listen to English only in the ‘English’ class. The teaching of the other subjects is mostly in their regional languages as the medium of instruction is in their vernacular languages. It is only in the cities and urban areas that we find English medium schools. Because of the poor social and economic backgrounds, they neither get enough exposure to English outside the classroom nor enough opportunities to improve themselves in speaking it. This naturally reduces their use of English and results in a poor competence in the language.
Non availability of suitable teaching-learning material
Many teaching-learning materials like – good textbooks, workbooks, handbooks for teachers, TV, radio, charts or other useful visual material- are essential for effective teaching. Unfortunately many teachers and students are not provided with these materials. Hence, sometimes the teaching and learning becomes more imaginative than practical.
Lack of good teachers of English
Good teachers of English are found in very small number in India. Hence, not having a good teacher of English is a common experience of all the students of English. The teachers of English are either not trained properly or they are the teachers of other subjects. Even if they are trained, they are trained by the teachers of English in India but not by the native speakers. Even the materials and methodology used in these training programmes are outdated. As such, it is the same limited experience that is shared. There is hardly any scope to improve intuitive and spontaneous knowledge of the language. Though there are institutes like CIEFL, RIEs and, ELTCs to train teachers of English, they are hardly enough for the large demands of the Indian teacher population. ...