A Baseline Study of English in Kerala

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A Baseline Study of English in Kerala

Postby C.Praveen » Fri, 14 May 2010 06:36:15 -0500

In 2007, six questions were mailed to me by the Principal, DIET, Wyanad, South India, as part of a Baseline Study in English conducted by the General Education Department, Government of Kerala.

These are the six questions and the answers I had given :

Q #1 Are you satisfied with the present system of English teaching in schools? Please comment in terms of materials, methods and strategies.

Materials: They are fairly good… but only one material for learners with widely different abilities!. It is not suitable for Constructivist approach. Further, there is an absence of Media-based materials.

Methods: There is a misplaced over emphasis on Constructivism. Other approaches like SOS, Bi-lingual method etc should also be tried.

Strategy: A teacher normally employs only one strategy for students in both smaller classes and larger classes, students with individual likes and needs, students from varied socio-economic backgrounds!

Q #2 At what level/standard do you think teaching of English can be introduced? Why?

•Introduction of listening tasks in the very first year of schooling.

•Once the child has picked up the mother tongue there is no harm in introducing English.

• All languages require practice and an environment in which it is regularly used to pick up the nuances of the language.

•In urban areas children get more exposure, so introduce English as early as Standard One. But in rural areas, exposure is less, so it is better to introduce later, around Standard Four.

Q # 3 Are you satisfied with the present system of teacher training (Pre-service and In-service) in English? Why?

•Not fully. There is a kind of formal schedule -28 to 30 days – Preparing lesson plans in a specific format only!

•There is no scope for trainees to experiment and innovate.

•Several aspects related to teaching cannot be grasped in 30 days!

•An internship for a minimum of six months should be introduced.

•Training, especially Practice Teaching focuses on State Syllabus only! CBSE, ICSE etc remain unfamiliar even after obtaining a teaching degree!

Q # 4 What are your suggestions for improving the teaching of English?

•Focus on building up a firm base in grammar at the primary stage.

•Provide opportunities for pupil interaction with good users of the language.

•Exploit media-based materials for instruction – Use TV, radio, Film and the Internet.

•Emphasis on developing reading habits: Introduce learners to

A. English literary texts
B. Indian English literature and
C. English translations of Indian literary texts

•An attitudinal change among learners, the public etc to use the language more frequently.

Q # 5. The materials and methodology used in the present ELT context do not reflect current understandings in Cognitive Psychology, Theoretical Linguistics, Experiential Pedagogy and Neuro-biology. How do you react to this observation?

Cognitive Psychology: Conscious imitation of great speakers, writing styles have helped many become good users of the language.

Theoretical Linguistics and Neuro-biology : Phrasal verbs, idioms, proverbs, quotations, figures of speech etc help deliver messages with a punch. One who imitates these succeeds!
Waiting to construct ones own sentence with a limited grasp of grammar and poor repertoire of vocabulary can help produce an impoverished version of the language !

Experiential Pedagogy:
A. All languages have a strong cultural base
B. British accent and intonation are distinct!
Can local versions of speech and writing with an Indian idiom help prune a citizen for the global world?

Q # 6 It is generally agreed that language is a tool for the expression of thought. Do you think that materials and methodologies that do not provide space for thinking, but focus, on imbibing information will help learners?

•Not necessarily! Note Piaget’s statement: “Thinking precedes language learning”. All language users ‘think’ before they use language!

•Any material used for instruction triggers thinking both during and after instruction…but the nature of thinking, the urge to use language, the ability to enrich one’s expression varies from individual to individual!

Well…any comments dear reader?

For more articles by the author please view

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Joined: Wed, 03 Oct 2007 09:59:52 -0500
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