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Improve communication skills in English

Improve communication skills in English
Highlights

Improve Communication Skills In English, Chukka Ramaiah, New Demands On Education, Communication. Soft skills and communication skills, that too communication skills in English, as that is the current global language of business, science, interaction, research, politics and social give and take.

Changing times have brought many new demands on education to suit the changing social and economic needs, making us aware of our need to reform and maybe even revolutionise our system of education and its objectives at a fast pace if we are to stand anywhere in the global competition for youth with not just hard skills but adequate soft skills and communication skills, that too communication skills in English, as that is the current global language of business, science, interaction, research, politics and social give and take.

This aspect struck me when I visited the social welfare schools in Karimnagar and Pulivendula recently. It was saddening to hear that students from these schools, who got qualified with good scores and joined the IIT institution from here, were very much embarrassed by their inability to communicate in English with the rest of the students who joined there, felt inferior and humiliated and quit their studies. After this shocking incident, it is heartening to note that the authorities have, of course, realized the importance of providing this essential support to all their students so as to make them confident participants wherever they go.

Slowly but surely, we are accepting the new role which English plays, unlike what it did in the past. From the language of the lords, from being the unifier in our national movement by turning the tables against the British in their own tongue, from the stature of a status symbol of the elite, from the symbol of colonialism, from being the chord of our national integration by subduing the linguistic disputes, from being the mark of neutrality and democracy for the linguistically oppressed Indians, from being the privilege of the upper and upper middle classes’ sophisticated circles, English has now become the language of the common man, the source of livelihood for all categories and classes globally, the ‘career tongue’ which all political parties have to acknowledge willingly or unwillingly.
Improve communication skills in English
The attempt made successfully by China , before hosting the Olympics, in teaching functional English to all the cab drivers, porters, servers and other workers along with all the volunteers who participated in the event, is worth appreciating. It only shows the country’s readiness to make its people globally acceptable and facilitate all the foreigners. Kerala has special English programmes for its entire people who plan to migrate as mechanics, housemaids and other workers in Saudi Arabian countries.
African countries also are now focusing on providing basic English skills to their uneducated workforce which intends to seek employment abroad as laborers. I only wish to drive here the obvious fact that English is now a necessity, not a luxury, as essential to everyone as their cell phone, their moped, their voter Id or their Aadhaar card.
I recall here the strong plea by Mr. Chandra Bhan Prasad, who extols English as the ‘Dalit Goddess’, the only Goddess who has the power to destroy the caste order, can empower Dalits, giving them a chance to break free from centuries of oppression and bring the marginalised onto the center stage. Truly, learning English has become the greatest mass movement the world has ever seen. When English is the key to equity, key to equality, key to empowerment to all, what are the efforts we are devoting in this direction, are they proper, and are they adequate is what worries me. Sri Rajagopalachari called English “Saraswati’s gift to India” and I wish to see if we are using that blessing to its full.
Speaking constitutionally, even our Supreme Court has stated, “English is more an Indian language than the other languages, it is the language India’s Constitution is written in,… it has entered the blood and bones of India.“ While it is gratifying to accept this fact, the failure of the three language formula in our education system, the encouragement to regional languages in different States as the medium of instruction both at the UG and PG level, the absence of English medium schools run by government to accommodate the marginalised, have all had their negative verdict on our employment potential even when the outsourcing industries opened their doors.
Special programmes like JKC by our Department of collegiate education and Technical Education could patch the deficits and provide upward mobility to many marginalised students studying in Government institutions, but we need to do something more basic and fundamental, from the grass root level to make all our deprived children confident with this skill of communication in English.
The rising payoffs for English communication skills are once again being capitalised by many private entrepreneurs and it is not surprising that it is now more than a $100 million industry in its annual revenue. Unrecognised English medium schools are increasing even in the slums and surveys report that the students studying there are better than those studying in government schools. So, once again, the neediest are the ones being most neglected. Our National Knowledge Commission has recommended that English should be taught in all schools from Class I and we find that English is now being introduced alright. But is it being implemented effectively?
Unfortunately, it is not only the learners who are afraid of the ‘foreign tongue’ but even the teachers themselves. English is now not a mere ‘subject’ to be covered, not any ‘syllabus ‘ to be completed, but a medium of expression for all topics, all ideas, all day-to-day interactions and that is how it has to be promoted. It needs special planning; additional activities to expose the children to listening and later give an opportunity for speaking. It is no longer writing and correcting affair. For this, the teachers must feel confident to use the language as they expect their wards to emulate them. Frequent trainings, workshops and support in the form of resources is a must for all the teachers as they themselves are products of education from the regional language and feel hesitant to speak in public in English.
Schools can plan to have English clubs, encourage viewing of English programmes and create more and more avenues for language practice as it is a well-known fact that any language is learnt only through exposure and practice. The lessons prescribed can be based on our local experiences and simple anecdotes so that the vocabulary learnt can be used in day-to-day interactions. The age old sentiments that all good English textbooks should have a piece of Shakespeare, Tennyson, Bernard Shaw and Maugham can be dispensed with.
The topics are dated, the language too tough for the first generation learners and scare them away. Moreover, though we have come to accept the importance of English as the medium for upward mobility, as the global language of interpersonal relationships, we have not yet given up our love for pompous, twisted, convoluted and complex expressions.
Such inhibitions to accept the changes which the language has undergone, in its progress from the language of the colonial traders and rulers to the international or global language of all sections, is blinding many of our teachers to the fact that Global English is simple, straight forward, easy to understand and communicate and that is what our learners require. If our government succeeds in educating our teachers in this regard, our taught will acquire the needed skills with ease. Then we can benefit from the lead which the colonial rulers gave us by forcing English on us, and fare better than many other countries.
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