Sunday, August 19, 2012

Empowering Teachers in English: Issues and Challenges in the Context of Resisting Linguistic Imperialism


                                                   Dr. K.N. Anandan

Empowering teachers in English has always been a challenge to English Language Teaching (ELT) centres and teacher training institutions and the various state level and national level agencies such as Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA). Every year our country witnesses seminars on various aspects of ELT organised by state level or national level agencies and institutions where deliberations after deliberations take place all focusing on the multifaceted issues related to the teaching of English in the country. Notions such as activity based learning, experiential learning, child centred classrooms have gained much currency in our own times and course books and method books in English that are supposedly in tune with these have proliferated during the past two decades.  This is all good. Nevertheless, issues remain the same which obviously is an unhappy state of affairs. Why is it that most of our teachers who stand at the cutting edge of the ELT methodology and the classroom practices continue to do what they have been doing for ages? Is it because the academic standards that have been conceived for teaching and learning English are inaccessible for the majority of teachers and learners? Have the curriculum designers have gone wrong in setting the standards?  Are teachers entrusted with a mission impossible? Is it because what the ELT schools have been giving them as tools for  teaching English have not been fine tuned enough to suit to their local needs? 
In the forthcoming posts I will argue that a major reason for the deplorable state of affairs prevailing in the English classrooms of our country is a natural consequence of certain belief systems created and sustained by institutions, agencies and individuals through the intentional or sometimes unintentional propagation of linguistic imperialism. Unless this is prevented no matter whatever efforts we take to empower teachers in English will have practically no effect at all.