The English language teachings in India has undergone significant changes during the last few decades. It is difficult to trace accurately the different phases of change in this short article.
These changes form an interesting study not only for scholars but also for teachers and language experts. These changes are not only linguistic in nature but also relates to the socio-economic developments that have been taking place owing to technological and socio-economic developments. It is worth mentioning that during the post - independence days the thrust of English language teaching was mainly on the study of literature and grammar. The teaching of grammar formed an important aspect of teaching grammar was taught mostly on the basis of definition. The definition oriented declining was rigorous and thorough.
Lot of effort and time was put on the teaching of grammar. As a result, the students were found to be guide conversant with the rules and definition of grammar. The method adopted was translation method in other words this can be termed as traditional method.
Study of literature was also an important aspect of English language teaching poems from Keats, shells’. Wordsworth and even Indian writers were included in the curriculum. The teaching learning process was more pedantic than practical. During the late 70’s and beginning of 80’s it was felt that the traditional method though helped the students to be proficient in grammar and a bit of literature right from the beginning of the schooling stage have served very little purpose in the practical field. Though the students were found to have required writing skill they lacked the necessary skill to use the language print fully in their day to day to day life. They were found to be deficient in using the language for any practical purpose. The exposure to the use of the language in the practical field was minimum. This proved to be a hindrance to their further career development. However, the situation varied from state to state.
In the west Bengal the students were influenced much by the mother tongue pull though they were quite u to the mark theoretically and in academic field but lacked very much in speaking skill. The situation was a little better in southern states because of their exposure to the English language in & outside world. The situation was far from satisfactory in the eastern states.
The aim of language teaching is to help the students to acquire four skills speaking, writing, listening and understanding. The traditional method did not help the students to acquire the speaking skill. They were not able to use the language properly for their practical purposes owing to the fact that the traditional method was more academic and continued to the knowledge of rules, definitions and literature.
The purpose of any language teaching is to help the students to acquire both the academic and excellence in the use of the language in the practical world. The traditional method taught the students idioms, phrases, precis writing, substance writing etc., The use of idioms, phrases and proverbs became whole in the course of time and translation method was considered to be faculty as it did not provide proper exposure to the proper exposure to the essence of language and the students were much obsessed by the mother tongue pull giving rise to delayed learning process and faculty use of the language. Thus, in course of time translation method was discarded giving rise to situational method which means direct approach to the language in actual use grammar is taught with examples in a sequential order rather than definition. Definition is given after a thorough practice with examples only. It means examples first definition last.
Further developments in linguistic science replaced the situational approach with structural approach. It was thought that language is a combination of many components, once a learner is acquainted with the structure of a language he will be able to build infinite number of sentences on his own. It is important to teach the students the mechanism of a language how it operates.
Thus, the different levels of the language e.g.; synthetic, semantic and phonetic levels were analysed and on the basis of this analysis a different approach was adopted known as linguistic approach the further development of which is communicative approach.
The latest approach is communicative approach. All these changes have been possible because of the developments and research oriented studies in linguistics in Europe and America. In this connection, it is worth mentioning that through the nineteenth century the study of language was known as philology and was mainly comparative in nature which it deals mainly with the historical development of a language known as diachronic study the important developments in the 20th century linguistics came with the shift to the synchronic study of the language which deals with the systematic inter relations of the components of single language and a particular time. The major contribution to the synchronic study was made by Ferdinand de Saussure a French speaking Swiss. Further contribution was made by Edward Sapir and Leonard bloom field who set out to devise a linguistic theory in the structural or descriptive field.
All these developments point to the use of the language as an effective tool for better and appropriate communication rather than literary excellence. Though the linguistic approach was not popular during the sixties and seventies because of an age old believe that language learning is more a matter of literary appreciation and display in pedantry rather than gross practice necessity.
Things started to change rapidly during late seventies and gained momentum during mid-eighties with the dawn of the era of globalisation the world became closer to each other and the need for speedy and easy communication as medium was felt more than any time.
In this regard, the latest method of learning the language became popular and adopted across the country.
Sri. A. k. Chatterjee.
Ex. Sr. Manager Education buckaroo steel plant. SAIL.