Thursday, August 23, 2012


 Dr. K.N.  Anandan
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Let me reiterate the point I was trying to make in the previous post: If at all we are serious about empowering English teachers  we have to resist the spread of linguistic imperialism in our country. I would like to illustrate the point with the help of a few cases:

Case 1
Several states in the country have entrusted the British Council (BC) to train teachers in English. To begin with, a team of master trainers will be trained by the BC who in turn will be cascading the training down the line to the practising teachers. The module for these trainings is developed by the BC.

Case 2
In Kerala, six native speakers of English were deployed as special English teachers at the Government Vocational Higher Secondary School at Nilambur, under ‘Sadgamaya’, a project jointly implemented by the Department of Education and the Nilambur municipal body, with UNICEF association. The authorities placed an advertisement in a leading travel magazine in the UK to get English teachers from Britain who could teach a correct and uniform accent. They avoided applications from German and French citizens living in the UK. The six teachers were selected after interviewing 10 shortlisted applicants. Seeing the level of interest from both sides, officials have planned to implement the project in 70-odd schools in the region next. 

Case 3
The Government of AP have decided to open 355 model schools in the State with classes 6 to 12 in conformity with the KV template where the medium of English will be English. In the first year of their launching the model schools will have classes 6, 7, 8 and 11 will be subsequently up-scaled to classes 9 and 12. These schools are located in villages and the learners who are going to be enrolled in these schools will be from the primary schools in the locality. Since the learners will be hailing from households around the school they will be residing at their own homes. However, hostel facilities will be provided to girls. These learners will have undergone lower primary education at the schools in the locality where the medium of instruction is Telugu. 

Case 4
I found the following advertisement (it is one, isn’t it?) painted on the compound wall of a Government Lower Primary school which has been serving the society for more than five decades.

Quality Education to All
GLP School,@@@@@@@@@@@@@@
English Medium divisions in Class 1 in June 2010
Admission started
Classes taken by expert teachers

Case 5
Short term courses conducted by state level and national level institutions and agencies for the development of proficiency in English happen to be within the framework of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) which target a certain variety of English designated as Standard English.

Case 6
The media report that across the country there has been a consistent increase in the flow of students from the government schools where the medium of instruction is English to English medium schools in the private sector.

These are apparently independent cases but they are in fact the reflections of certain common belief systems that have been got deeply instilled in the minds of people through several decades. The opening of parallel English medium divisions in government schools, the mushrooming of English medium schools in the private sector and the opening of English medium schools in the government sector, introducing English from class 1 onwards, entrusting the British council for training teachers of English in the country, deploying native speakers of English in schools to teach English, the clamour for correct pronunciation and the fragmentary and skill-based approach to the teaching of English as is followed in teacher  training programmes are all in fact reflections of certain belief systems which have been deeply instilled in the minds of the people. These belief systems constitute what Phillipson has formulated as linguistic imperialism which has five unmistakably identifiable tenets namely,
  1.  English is best taught monolingually.
  2. The ideal teacher of English is  a native speaker.
  3. The earlier English is taught, the better the results.
  4. The more English is taught, the better the results.
  5.  If other languages are used much, standards of English will drop.
(Phillipson, R. (2009) Linguistic Imperialism Continues; Orient BlaskSwan; pp 12)

(to be continued)

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