Tuesday, October 16, 2012

(This is in continuation of what was posted earlier)
The cases cited in my earlier posts will not pose any problem for non-critical E LT but will have problems for critical E LT and have implications in designing teacher empowerment programmes. Taking cue from Graham Hall these cases can be critically approached by triangulating three themes: (1) E LT and prosperity; (2) linguistic imperialism and (3) the demand for English. Let us flesh out these notions.
E LT and prosperity: Many people acknowledge English as a panacea for problems at the level of individuals as well as the State- Central levels. Therefore, quite often an illogical equation is created between English and prosperity. The ELT experts from their side instil wrong expectations in the minds of learners about the benefits that could be accomplished by acquiring Standard English. Consequently, individuals as well as states and countries are attuned to spend large amounts for teaching and learning English.
Linguistic imperialism: ELT by and large makes use of globally developed products. The much acclaimed communicative language teaching and the related materials are essentially global in nature and are perceived as what is needed wherever there is a situation for teaching and learning English whether this is in India, China or Japan. This is why ELT experts across the world welcome the globalisation of ELT. For them, it is a natural and inevitable phenomenon that would contribute to the lives of people by facilitating better international communication. Therefore, they do not find any problem in the globalization of ELT. However, this is not a view shared by the proponents of critical ELT. Critical pedagogues like Apple, Rogers, Phillipson, Kincheloe, Norton, Kanagaraja, have pointed out the danger of imperialism that lies hidden in the spreading of ELT. According to them, the globalisation of ELT is only a mechanism that suppresses the thinking and language variety of the people across the world and helps in sustaining market economy. The centrally developed CLT does not address the local needs or the local culture. When it is used locally, a tension between centre and local arises and linguistic imperialism comes out in its full vigour.
The demand for English: There is great demand for English across the world. Whether this demand is genuine or artificially created is a topic for debate between the proponents of the emergent critical ELT on the one hand and the stakeholders of traditional ELT. The impetus for the debate originates from two belief systems that are diametrically opposite to one another. The non-critical ELT adopts a fragmentary approach to language and proposes the skill-based and linear mode of teaching. It is essentially an apolitical treatment of Language. The critical ELT on the other hand problematizes the whole context of language teaching and proposes a pedagogy placing it in the socio-political context. Consequently, it demands a shift from the skill-based and fragmentary approach to knowledge-based and holistic approach to language. The birth of critical ELT is not just a coincidence; it is the culmination of years of research that have gone into topics such as language, language acquisition, social discourses culture and language pedagogy. This debate, I believe is likely to continue for several decades yet to come. Let it be so. What is important is the fact that the demand exists. Keeping the demand alive is essentially a British agenda. The British people meet this demand by providing materials, human resources and what not ensuring that Britain is profited economically, culturally and politically.
In this context it is mandatory to conceive courses in English that aim at empowering teachers both in language proficiency and language pedagogy in tune with the tenets of critical pedagogy and social constructivism. The dubious claims that ELT schools have been making on Standard English need to be problematized looking at the larger context of the several “Englishes” spoken across the world. Curriculum objectives are to be redefined in terms of discourses and classroom processes are to be developed which will help the learners produce language rather than reproduce it. Pedagogic tools are to de designed for ensuring collaborative learning in an inclusive classroom where the expansion of the zone of proximal development of every learner is taken care of. Teachers should know how teacher talk can be used as an effective and authentic listening input for the learners by making it process specific, learner specific and level specific. We need to evolve exploratory practices that involve a continuous, relevant, and sustainable exploration where teaching becomes a ‘thinking activity’. Teachers are to be empowered to work with learners within a critical perspective, producing understandings of classroom events and their relation to wider society. The joint explorations undertaken by the teacher and the learner hopefully will end the divide between the researcher and the researched, between the central and the local, and between possibly different teacher- learner understandings of the classroom. This is extremely important because linguistic imperialism cannot occur within a framework of localised co-operative action. Understanding social practice becomes as important as linguistic theory in the classroom; teachers and learners become empowered actors; and local social, political, and cultural contexts are incorporated into the search for understanding within language teaching so that a ‘safe space’ is created where all students can participate.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

Reach out to the world outside...

Dear friends,
Hopefully, you are all aware that we have been pursuing a critical approach to ELT ever since the introduction of the constructivist paradigm in our curriculum. Some of you may have perceived the socio-political significance of the new paradigm in the backdrop of the non- critical ELT practices that are in vogue across the world. We must be aware of, and sensitive to, the overt and covert efforts of individuals, agencies and institutions that have been inadvertently or even purposefully promoting conventional ELT practices, practices which have neither theoretical nor empirical backup. Very few have realized the fact that the non-critical ELT practices are tools for spreading and sustaining linguistic imperialism which eventually will culminate in the demolition of our individual, cultural and linguistic identities. Being practitioners of the critical paradigm we must take up the mission of resisting this as best as we can.
The revision of the State curriculum in Kerala in 2007 and the curriculum and textbook revision process that has been initiated in Andhra Pradesh since 2011 have been major interventions in this regard. But this alone will not suffice. The classroom processes we have conceived are likely to lose its vigour if teachers do not get sufficient support in addressing the issues that arise in the course of classroom transaction. Unless special measures are taken by the system the practising teachers are not likely to get the right kind of pedagogic support they should be getting. There is a proliferation of ELT material available around us in the form of course books and source books both in print and multimedia. However, the lion share of this material is from non-critical ELT sources and as such that may not meet the present needs of the teachers. Of course, there are several teachers (yet not known to the outside world) who have owned up the new paradigm with passion and have been doing excellent job in their classrooms. Their experience is precious not only for those who are working inside the State but also those who are working elsewhere. What they have done is to be documented and anthologised for the benefit of all who have genuine concern for language.  We need to chalk out a multifaceted action plan for this:
1.Develop a large variety of ELT material in the form of
·         Source books, news bulletin, journals and magazines for the use of teachers. These books will cover all the pedagogic aspects related to the modular transaction of English at various levels.
·         Children’s literature including books and magazines for the use of learners from classes 1 to 12
·         Reference material for the professional development of teachers
·         Multimedia material for the use of both teachers and learners
2. Build up a network of practicing teachers and resource persons of critical ELT
·         Share experience through net (blog, face book, twitter, etc.)
·         Participate in on-line discussions and debates on ELT
·         Subscribe to critical ELT journals produced within the State, country and elsewhere
3.Periodical conventions
·         Organize and participate seminars and workshops in the critical ELT
·         Organize local festivals in English
To begin with we will have an anthology of the experience of teachers who have been translating the new paradigm into classroom practice. I suggest that all of you can develop a write up on your experience in the new paradigm. The write-up (of about 2000-200 words) should touch the following aspects:
·         Your earlier beliefs about teaching and learning English and the changes
·         How you were inducted into the new paradigm (SLAP, ACE, RACE, PACE, FACE, REAP, The state curriculum and textbooks, etc.)
·         Your experience with the new paradigm in giving training, in teaching with focus on any one of the transaction modules (pre-reading, reading, discourse construction, editing, publishing children’s journals, conducting English fests, classroom interaction, graphic reading and writing, etc.)
   Your own contribution to the new paradigm
Since we are the only ELT practitioners who have experienced the new paradigm, it is historically important that we reach out to the world outside.
Yours sincerely,
Dr. K.N. Anandan

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Processing of Poems-Dr.K.N.Anandan

Processing of poem construction at primary classes
Please watch!