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India is a multilingual
country with number of languages and many dialects. There are more than 1,652 languages/dialects
belonging to five different families of language in this country. There are 22 scheduled
languages mentioned in the 8th schedule of the Indian Constitution and more
than 87 languages are being used in the print and mass media. However, only 47 languages
are being used as the medium of instruction in schools and English is one of
them. English language has been accorded the prime status of associate official
language at the national level in India.

English as a
language has been in India for more than two centuries. But even now, very few
can speak English. But in spite of English not being spoken by many people, it
has become a major link language at national and international levels and is a
commonly used language in offices, business, industry, preparation of
professionals like Doctors and Engineers and in research particularly in the
fields of science and technology therefore teaching of English in schools has acquired
importance in the education system of our country. English was the primary
language for barely 4.3 lakh Indians at the time of the Census-2011 and about
86 million listed it as their second language and another 39 million as their
third language taking the total number of English speakers in India to over 125
million.

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Teaching and
learning are essential part of human development. While learning was informal
and incidental in primitive cultures, it is formal and structured in modern
societies. Literacy and numeracy are the primary tools and they create enabling
conditions to access and process the available information, to articulate
individual aspirations and claims on public provisions, and to participate in
social transformation, both through contribution and benefits from the
development process. To be literate is an individual aspiration and to make
people literate is a social commitment. Education increases social opportunities
and individual progress. The responsibility of education is assigned to the
school as an institution and the teacher as a person.

Teaching of
English at the primary level is a global phenomenon in today’s neo-modern world.
In India, the teaching of English and its introduction have received great
attention. Many states have already introduced or want to introduce English as
a subject at primary level, often from class I. The level of its introduction
has now become a matter of state policy responding to people’s aspirations.

A constantly
increasing demand for the knowledge and use of the English language has been
noticed in the world economics, politics, science, technology and culture
studies after 1950. The educational strategies at the national level are geared
according to the changing social needs. These changes have reflected in the
state policies on education. In Maharashtra, concrete steps were taken in 1961,
1968, and 2000. The State introduced English as an optional subject at the
secondary level in 1961 and English was made compulsory at the upper primary
level in 1972. For the next twenty-eight years, the situations remained
constant. In 2000, the State introduced English at the lower primary level.
Every step taken by the State is an attempt to make learning of English easier.
The aims of the new policy are first to enable students to use English and then
to improve the quality of English acquired by them. Many such policies have
been employed by the State after 1970. Still, a majority of graduate students
are unable to construct grammatically correct sentences. For example, they
cannot write applications in English independently.

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