Starting Point of English in India: When to Start English Seriously for the Children?

“Language is the primary and most highly elaborated form of human symbolic activity…made up of symbols made by sounds produced by the vocal apparatus….” (A. A Hill)

India, where English is needed as purely imposed social condition, a parent often raises a question when he should start English seriously for his child. The answers to such questions are variables and contradictory. As we cannot go for immediate social changes, we can accept the verdict that we should accept English as and when it comes and we cannot go for compromises in the salary. 

It should be clear to you now that English in India is needed in all areas of human life. When we talk about the domains of English in India, roughly we mean the fields or areas of activities of English usage: The fields or areas of activities of English use as well as the intensity of used in the status accorded the India. Therefore, the status accorded English in India is not inherently linguistic. This is to say that English in India status is determined by factors other than linguistic. Linguistically, there is no language in India that is superior to another except Sanskrit which is the mother of all modern Indian languages. But social, political, historical, economic, demographic etc factors will spell the status given to English in India. Why do you think this is so? It will be well to observe also that the age and the manner of acquisition of usage will also define the status of the English in India.

 The greatest factor is the rising middle-class and the so called semi conditioned English medium schools. Of course, there is another saying that goes round together with this is the westernization of Indian culture. However, the basic and the observation show that the children can pick up the English in India more easily if they are introduced to them at an early age. And both the schools and go west culture wind the balloons. But in this context, it should be kept in mind that the decision is conditionally true. A student can spontaneously learn English in India when he gets the opportunity of learning, speaking and understanding the English in his own natural environment.

As the case may be when in the largest part of the Indian subcontinent there is no natural environment to learn English or any other foreign language and where the learning of second English in India is confined to classroom, in that case, it is better to start learning English only after a student has developed a great deal of knowledge in his mother tongue. Otherwise he will not learn anything—neither the mother tongue nor the English. This wastage had been prevalent in the sphere of education for a long time. Students are trapped by mammy daddy and hi hello. This kind of national wastage is limitless if the education of a certain section is valued by the controller of education instead of mass education. Isn’t it justified then to start English seriously at the end of the natural environmental elementary stage and at the onset of schooling? That is from Age 5+.

Today, in many parts of the world the English is used as a second language. This is exactly the situation in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Singapore, Sierra-Leone, among others. In India, the English language is not a first language. Rather, languages such as Hindi, Tamil, Telegu, Bangla and so on are first languages or mother tongues or indigenous languages. But the English language is the first language or mother tongue in places like Britain, the United States, Australia, most of Canada and New Zealand. Where English is used as a second language, it develops its own peculiar characteristics different from those of English as a first language. Such characteristics manifest in the areas of pronunciation, lexis and semantics, and to some extent, grammar (Syntax). Let us note that English has a wide, global spread; it is used as either first or second or foreign language in most parts of the world. So start of English is inevitable and ways to swiftest lessons are under the scanner.

 The teaching of English which starts from the age of 5+, that is, the primary education can be regarded as the beginning of the formal education. Thus teaching of English should be organized based on compatible teachers, school and curriculum and syllabus on the basis of scientific method. Children are exposed to the new horizon while gathering English knowledge by reading. That is why in this stage of teaching of English greater stress is given on reading and writing. Prior to the invention of writing and alphabets, imparting knowledge had been rendered through listening-process. But together with the extension of knowledge it became very difficult to store and spread the store house of knowledge. People solved this problem by inventing the art of writing, alphabets, and new words and with the gradual development of language. That is why in teaching of English, especially at the primary stage, writing and reading started getting equal status together with listening and speaking. Through reading and writing, the student becomes more powerful with the forms of knowledge—its acquisition-relation and distribution.

Ref:   Encarta, Wikipedia

Ref:   Encarta  , Wikipedia