English as a Second Language in India: Analyzing Its Functions Taking Some of the Key Aspects of Our Educational System in India



  While thinking of some of the key aspects of our educational system in India we readily conclude that it demands the use of English. Indian youths in the age of 3G – 4G use English as a major means of communication and even college or university campus also adopt English as their major means of communication. The other day, in popular T. V. serial C. I. D. a letter in Hindi is written in English words, I am just wondering if the script writer is a hybrid product of this linguistic generation. Read More Teaching English (TEFL)  

Taking this into account, after the formal introduction and induction of English 250 years ago, the major functions which English performs in India in 2015 is astonishingly variety. The language is used as a medium of instruction in schools; it is the language of administration; it is the language of commerce and industry; it is the language of national unity; it is the language of international diplomacy; it is also a medium of creative writing. For a long time to come, English will continue to play these roles in the country. Engregii is, indeed, an important legacy inherited from Britain (its formal colonial master).


You should recall our earlier discussion that language is important to man and his society. It is an important means of human communication. Indeed, language is a social tool which man uses for very many purposes. Read More Teaching English (TEFL) Since its inception in India, the English language has been performing many vital roles. In fact, the roles which the language performs in India have enhanced its status. In this unit, we shall deal with some of the major functions of English in India. When you see these numerous functions, you will be able to appreciate the advantages which the ability to speak the language can afford an Indian.

  English as a Language of Education: Let us recall here that western education came to India with Christian religion, East India Company Administrative works and colonial activities. We will also remember that the form of education that was introduced in India in the wake of colonialism was that which emphasized language-related activities such as reading and writing in addition to arithmetic. This was basically in order for the missionaries and the colonial administrators to realize their objectives of building babus. Since then, English has been an important subject on the curriculum of every level of education in India. Read More Teaching English Apart from being a major subject on the curriculum, English is today a medium of education right from the upper primary school to the tertiary level. This means that other subjects, apart from the indigenous and foreign languages like, Tamil, Bengali, Hindi, French, Sanskrit etc, are taught in the English language right from upper primary school to the university level. It will not be an exaggeration to say that failure in English these days in India will amount to educational failure. For one to gain admission to any tertiary institution in the country, a credit pass in English is required in most cases.

  English as a Language of Trade and Commerce: If we will recall, we said that trade was one of the major factors which brought the English language to India. In the country till today, the language has remained a language of trade and commerce. It facilitates trade among people of different linguistic backgrounds  in the country. In addition to the local trading activities, the English language also serves the purpose of international trade in India. It is a major means of communication between India and its international trade partners.

  English as a Language of Administration: The English language came to India partly through colonial administration. Since then, it has been the language of political administration, the language of the civil service in the country. Most, if not all, government affairs especially at the state and national levels are conducted in English. Read More Teaching English Important government documents like the constitution are written essentially in English. In fact, it has become essential for any political aspirant in the country to be able to speak English. Because of its roles in administration, along with Hindi the English language is an official language in India; it is the lingua franca of administration.

  English as a Language of Unity: There are many ethnic groups with different linguistic backgrounds in India. The English language marries these different ethnic groups together in a way, in the sense that it facilitates inter-ethnic communication. Considering this, therefore, it can be said that English is a language of unity in India. But it should be noted that the fact that a group of people speak the same language does not necessarily guarantee unity among them. What we are saying is that English is one of those things which Indians can say they have in common and, since it plays an integrative role by facilitating inter-ethnic communication, it can be said to be the language of unity. The Debnagori and Drabirian linguistic branches marges together through English. A visit to north by the south and the vise verse proves this.




Apart from being a language of national unity, it can also be said that English achieves for India international unity. Today, India is a member of the world speech communities of the English language. Read More Teaching English   English as a Language of International Diplomacy: World-wide today, English is the language of international diplomacy. The conduct of international affairs throughout the world is carried out in English. Also, some world organizations like U. N. O, UNESCO and so on use English as their major means of communication. In fact, to be relevant in world diplomacy these days, a country should be able to use English. In this wise, we can regard English as a global language.

  English as a Medium of Creative Writing: The use of English as a medium of creative writing in India has led to the development of literary English in the country. Indians have written novels in English from the 19th century onwards. But only in the 1930s, with the novels of Raja Rao, Mulk Raj Anand, and R. K. Narayan, did international writing circles begin to take notice of Indian writing in English. Today, many Indian creative writers adopt English as the medium of their writings. Read More Teaching English India can boast of such creative writers as Rushdie, Seth, Ghosh, and Roy and so on. They are only a few of the many prominent Indian writers who have written powerful novels about living in a postcolonial world and who have gained attention on the world stage. The writings of these authors—with their innovative approaches, compelling drama, and masterful style—make Indian literature, especially that in English, one of the most robust national literatures in the modern world. In the post independence era India has also produced a major body of poetry in English. Noteworthy among the modern Indian English poets are Nissim Ezekiel, Arun Kolatkar, Jayanta Mahapatra, and the female poet Kamala Das, who writes in Malayalam as well as English.These writers have helped in extending the possibilities of the English language in India. 

Conclusion: Considering the various roles which English plays in India, it becomes incontestable that the language has come to stay in the country. The language occupies a prestigious position because of its numerous roles. It is this utilitarian factor that essentially makes English to be a second language in India. You will recall that a second language is that which is learned and used extensively in addition to the mother tongue. When placed vis-à-vis the indigenous Indian languages, definitely English occupies a very prominent position; it enjoys prominence or what is technically termed dominance configuration.