DOCUMENT NO. 4
Language Teaching ---A Perspective
I have not concealed my predilections as a linguistic scientist, the
present paper is not a plea for the application of a particular brand
of linguistics to the exclusion of other brands or to the exclusion
of disciplines other than linguistics such as psychology and sociology.
The focus is throughout on the language learner and everything
else including language and the language teacher is brought into relation
with the languages learner.
I LANGUAGE LEARNING
Before one can say anything useful about language
teaching one has to pay some attention to language learning. For one thing the two do not always go together. Language learning can take place. Fortunately, without language teaching –this
is the way a child learns his very first language or an immigrant
may “pick u” the language of the country of adoption. On the other
hand, language teaching can take place as all of us have sadly realized,
without any language learning! Language learning is a process, it
is something that happens to You and is not wholly within your control.
Language teaching is a purposeful activity, If one objects
that language learning is not all that passive, I hasten to admit
that the process of language learning is frequently accompanied by
self-teaching. Even a child
does some self-tuition, as I realized when I overhead my daughter-then
2½ years old- doing pattern drilling in Marathi all by herself.
This is of course not
the place to go into a full–scale discussion of learning in general
and language learning in particular. What we shall do rather is to
bring together a number of pertinent observations made by psychologists.
Pedagogues, and other. The sad fact remains that there is no
comprehensive and established-theory of language learning neatly related
to more general theories of learning and of language.
is a pervasive phenomenon ranging from learning to use one’s left
hand and learning to like lobsters and Karela to learning more
of one’s country when moving abroad and learning the secrets of nature. It is not surprising, therefore, that attempts to give a single
formula of learning have not been especially successful. Learning is opposed to instinct-both are different
ways in which behaviour receives the impress of a pattern I a direction,
and a drive. Learning is distinct
from other modifications in responses such as fatigue. Physiological
adaptation (e.g. of eyes to a darkened room) and maturation (e.g.The
changes associated with puberty).
Learning is the bridge that joins practice and performance.
modification brought about through practice may be relatively formative. i.e. bringing a pattern into an area where
little or none existed. Or relatively trans- formative. i.e. bringing
greater specificity into a vague., general pattern of trans formative
element inmost learning events. Since every learning event is liable to be
helped or hindered by a carryover from previous learning events of
the same family.
learning can be classified into “learning how to” and “learning that”.
Learning to drive a car, or be a language former: learning thermodynamics.
Or Olympic scores over the last twenty years. Or the essential finiteness
of human effort are examples of the latter. While no ambiguity attaches
to an Expression like “learning history” the expression “learning
a language” is very often confused with “learning about a language”.
Both” application” that one expects in the two cases differs widely.
There is some carryover possible between the two, but basically
neither is a precondition to the other.
While one can legitimately expect learning about a language
(or about languages in general) to be intellectually challenging or
exciting, a certain amount of tedium is inseparable from learning
to use a language: the only intrinsic satisfaction that one may expect
from the latter is that of acquiring a new skill and therefore a new
control over one’s body and one’s inner world.
to use language can come about in two entirely different situations:
(a) learning a language by way of growth and (b) learning a language
as an accomplishment. The former can take place only before the age
of nine or so: every child that is not quite deaf or feeble –minded
or brought up by wolves manages to acquire at least one languages
or, in favourable circumstances. More than one by virtue (it would circumstances.
More than one by virtue (it would appear to be the case) of some innate.
But short-lived endowment: this learning is informal and a part of
the child becoming a member of his group and a party to its culture
and gaining some control over its environment. The latter may or may
not take place in a person’s life: it can be either informal—without
the benefit of a teaches –or formal-arising out of and partially controlled
by language teaching: Some native aptitude in the individual learner
seems to play a part, though native attitude is certainly to enough
and certainly not to be identified wholly with intelligence. Examples
kind of informal language learning by accomplishment are seen in many
kinds of bilingualism associated with border areas , with temporary
or permanent movements of people (e.g.. language transfer between
an immigrant bride and her husband ‘s family). With large cosmopolitan
cities, and with mass media (e. g.
the spread of Hindi through the entertainment film). Formal
language teaching can benefit perhaps more from learning about this
kind of bilingualism. A level of attainment comparable to the level
normally reached in language –learning by-accomplishment. An exaggerated
pessimism is not called for: and it is certainly not a help.
important example of “learning how to” is learning how to learn. A person who has accomplished the learning
of a second language is likely to be more successful in learning a
third language. Even in the
course of learning language the learner’s aptitudes likely to improve:
the language teacher thus can afford to go faster in the later stages
of the course as the gains are consolidated.
to use a language is acquiring the skill or habit of conforming to
the rules of that language in an integrated act of language use. The conformity should become a second nature. The act of language.
Use may be one of reception, of production or of reproduction. The system of rule may define the standard
variety of a language, a given non-standard variety of a language,
or a given variety of a language that has not thrown up any standard
variety. In greater detail the rules will define a particulars style—formal,
informal, literary, etc. – within a particular variety.
Thus, teaching the standard variety or the careful style appropriate
to formal speech and writing to a child already in possession of other
varieties or styles of that language is to reforming his existing
language through prescription and proscriptions but simply adding
anew instrument to his repertoire. Finally the rules or trains can
be grouped as follows:
(Ia) Inventory of phonological units
(Ib) Systematic combinations of phonological units
(IIa) Inventory of grammatical tools
(IIb) Relations of Words to Sentences and of sentences to other
(IIIa) Inventory of vocabulary items.
(IIIb) Systematic combinations of these
(IVa) Graphic skills at the
(IVb) Graphic skills at the level of orthography and punctuation.
(Va) Stylistic choices within a sentence
(Vb) Stylistic choices in concatenating sentences to each other and to the
Although a typical act
of language use exhibits several of these and although there is some
carry-over between two types of skills some separation between these
types of skills seems to be both feasible and desirable. The levels
of attainment may differ: One can make an eloquent appeal in an atrocious”
accent” or handwriting: good grammatical control may go with a poor
vocabulary: etc., etc.
rules or traits just classified are to be used in various ways which
may be set out as follows:
(sensory skills) Identification
Comprehension (‘mental’ skills) Identification
(B1) Transmission (motor
Expression (‘mental skills) selection of the form
(C1) Repetition (chiefly
motor and sensory skills)
‘Look and write’
‘Look and Write’
‘Listen and write’
in the same language (chiefly ‘mental’ skills).
(C2a) Paraphrase with or without change of
Translation from the new language to a more familiar language.
Translation from a more familiar language to the new language.
Some of the interrelations
between these different skills may be highlighted. Reception should normally precede production –the helpful carry-over
is mainly in that direction between corresponding skills (A1a and
B1a, etc.). At the recognition and transmission levels (A1and B1),
aural-oral skills should normally precede visual-manual skills –the
helpful carryover is mainly in that direction, the carryover in the
opposite direction being mainly a hindrance.
Repetition skills (C1) are useful in reinforcing and tre4sting
the corresponding primary skills (A1 and B1). At the comprehension
and expression levels (A2 and B2), the separation between aural-oral
skills and visual-manual skills need not be so rigid: and oral and, later, written re-expression
(C2) can be pursued both in its own right and for reinforcing and
testing the corresponding primary skills (A2 and B2).
This level represented by comprehension, expression, and re-expression
is tied up with grammar, vocabulary, and style (II, III and V) rather
than with phonology and graphonomy (I and II).
Since reading and writing permit a slow pace and backward reference,
they are likely to be easier at this level (A2b and B2b) than listening
and speaking (A2a and B2a). The place of translation in language learning
is primarily as a difficult skill to be acquired in its own right
after the monolingual skills have been mastered. To reverse
the sequence and use translation for reinforcing and testing the corresponding
primary skills (A2 andB2) at the beginning stages is like expecting
a child to leap hurdles before it can walk.
At its worst, it garbles it completely. If our grandfathers
learned English effectively through translation, it was because English
also used to be a medium of instruction in the secondary schools (the
few English medium schools of today do not use and never did use translation
for teaching English). More over the control over English expected
and on the average attained was limited: Phonology and colloquial
style were neglected: the comprehension of literary style was stressed
at the expense of the comprehension of factual and discursive style
was expected. The deleterious effects of this whole set-up on Indian
academic and professional performance (both passive and active) are
only now being fully realized, In The English –medium schools of today
and the all-English schools of yesterday phonology and colloquial
style are and were stressed at the expense of the comprehension and
expression in serious thought to the proper selection of target skills
listed in this and the foregoing sections. The teaching of Hindi as
link language has not profited so far from the past errors about English.
Learning may be a process: but it cannot amount to being “processed”.
It is a highly individual affairs. Like crime learning presupposes
motive, means, and opportunity. In
learning how to use a language one learns to play the roles of message—receiver,
possibly also of message-sender, possibly also of message-relayer.
The long-term motives are broadly of two kinds—utilitarian
ones centred on the control of environment through language and sociative
ones centred on the satisfaction from social interaction through the
paying of language roles. 2 With regard to first-language –learning
these motives are compiling and largely unconscious: the child is
simply coming to terms with his human and non-human environment. In
the learning of other languages at a later age the motivation is likely
to be conscious, less than compelling, and even antagonistic to effective
learning. The short-term motives
are incentives generated in the learning process itself –fear of failure,
desire to excel, love of novelty etc. The means of language
learning are not external to the learner.
They are his body and mind –more accurately the learner has
to have an aptitude or capacity for language learning, which
has innate and acquired elements, which may vary with age (only up
to nine for learning by growth, probably greater aptitude before twenty
for learning by accomplishment) and which involves good sight or hearing,
oral or manual muscular skill, concentration, memory, and imagination,
capacity to analogize and improvise, and sociability. The aptitude
is to be defined and measured in relation to the learnability of the
content and the favourability of the opportunity. Since language learning
is “learning how to”, the opportunity is broadly of three kinds:
exposure to a model to a models; active “ playing at” language roles
and” playing with” language implements (tongue, ear, hand, eye, and
writing instruments) and” learning that” strictly as a means of “
learning how to”. In each case the total duration and timing has to
be taken into account. In the case of formal language learning, opportunity is governed
both by circumstances and by the adequacy of the teaching. Having
considered the motive, the means and the opportunity, we must relate
these to the learnability of the content of language learning:
the particular bit being learned must have appeal to the long- term
and the short –term motives and timeliness and availability in relation
to the stage and the opportunity. The learnability of the language as a whole
in learning by accomplishment may have something to do with inherent
difficulty, but primarily this has to do with the degree of resemblance
of the language being learned with the languages previously learned. Complete resemblance is certainly a help: as
for partial resemblance, it depends on the strength, the extent and
the favourability of the carry over. The overall difference between
the language being learned (the target language) and
the language conditioning its learning (the filter language)
may be as small as that between two styles or two varieties within
the same language network
or may be as big as that between two unrelated languages which have
never borrowed from each other in history or may be something in between.
What the learner comes out with in his performance is a replica
of the target language. The terminology of target, filter, and replica
is of course applicable to the language –bits as well as while styles,
varieties, or language s. The
target word “post” [h u] in English when borrowed into Marathi is
filtered through Marathi phonological analogues like [po:t--] and
comes out as which is its replica.
Unfavourable carry over from the filter language is called
interference. It is obvious that an excessive prominence to the learner’s language
and the failure to build up a working base in the initial stages of
acquiring the receptive and productive skills in the target language
is likely to facilitate interference and to encourage under earning
of the primary skills and thus e king them out with native language
carryover. This native language carryover may sometimes
go beyond mere filtering to straight borrowing (e. g., a Marathi speaker
saying bajut or Hindi or using Marathi numerals in reading
large figures in English).
NATURE OF LANGUAGE TEACHING
A consideration of language teaching is primarily the consideration
of the conditions under which language teaching successfully accomplishes
the learning of the target language (or some reasonable replica of
it). The qualification “reasonable”
is necessary: for, successful or not, language teaching is bound to
bring about some learning. The
Indian schoolboy who comes out with gems like “the has tied the house”,
“he does not wants” “why it is so?”, “I books want “all actually attested
examples) has certainly “learned “something in the strict sense of
that team. The plea of “Indian
English”, however, is not intended to cover this kind of replication.
order to bring about this result, the teacher manipulates existing
opportunities and created new ones for the learner so that
the learner is moved to make use of his aptitude to learn,
the teacher has rightly been compared to the midwife.
An expectant mother does not have to have a midwife; but it
helps!. This basic fact gets
complicated in various ways. First, the taught agreement we are visualizing
between the teacher and the taught whereby the language to be learned
is decided upon and the teacher is entrusted with the teaching decisions
is replaced in a complex society by a network of decisions in which
political and administrative authorities, behind –the scene specialists,
and the teacher participate and by a body of educational practices
including the much-talked–about “methods”. The specialist provides
aids like contrastive analysis or frequency counts which are to be
put into the hands of the teachers or testers or textbook writers
and not the student: they are like machine tools-tools that produce other tools.. Secondly
built also how to learn more of it. Since no teaching scheme, for
example, can hope to teach the whole of the vocabulary in the skill
in acquiring the meaning of a new word or by looking it up in a dictionary,
where available. Thirdly, the learner is encouraged to become his
own teacher. Given the skill in listening, for example, he can reform his own
pronunciation with the minimum of teacher help. Fourthly, the teacher is learning from the leaner. By informally or formally testing the learner’s
face), the teacher is getting a progress report and taking decisions
to go back one or more steps, to modify and improve his method, to
change the pace, and to take special remedial steps.
Fifthly, since the number of learner normally exceeds by far
the number of teachers, special organizational and pedagogic measures
have to be taken to individualize teaching and thus respect the individuality
of learning This can be done, for example, by depending on the resourcefulness
and initiative of the teacher or by providing for individual “ pacing”
in the method, or by setting up multiple alternative courses (e.
g. ’lower’ demand for standardization through transferring most
teaching decisions from the teacher to the designers of syllabuses,
and texts and thus lightening his burden.
This is expected to meets the problem of uniformity in the
face of numbers and the problem of the shortage of resourceful talented
teachers. The demands for standardization and for individualization
are, it has been programming principle is claimed to satisfy both
of these. M14 of edu./69—7
Language teaching activity may be divided into the following phases:
(1) Behind-the –scene
Designing the syllabus for a teaching year or the lesson-plan for
a teaching-hour are both examples of this activity.
Grading vocabulary or grammar or posting reading in favour of speaking
are examples of staging and sequencing.
(c) Determining entrance conditions: The learners may be admitted to the course
on the basis of age, the completion of some other course, a special
aptitude test, etc.
is providing the three kinds of opportunity: exposure to short examples
or connected conversational or narrative texts or mock-up situations;
verbalization about language or explanation and glossing: and initial
practice in reception, production, or reproduction as the case may
Revision: This may be used as blanket term for subsequent practice
(“booster shots”), diagnostic tests serving as progress reports, remedial
steps, and supervised self-teaching (which includes exposure to “
real life ”, un-doctored texts and situation).
Final Test: This may be either an achievement test geared to
the foregoing course or lesson or a generalized proficiency test.
The final test of one course may of course be the entrance
test of another.
The Follow–up: The
importance of taking special measures to ensure retention of learning
and prevention of loss has only recently been realized. The person primarily responsible for this phase is of course the
be noticed that this analysis by phases is as much applicable to a
whole course or to any intermediate course unit as to the ultimate
unit–a particular teaching-session (the “lesson”).
Planning the course is the war strategy:
planning the lesson is the battle tactics.
The success of the course as a whole or of any course-unit
depends on the delicate balancing of several factors in the decisions
at every phase. The term “method” is applied to the particular set
of governing decisions with respect to phases I and II for effecting
this balance in accordance with which a whole course is designed and
administered. Thus we speak
of the Grammar-Translation Method, the Direct Method, the Svādhyāya,
Method3. and the Mimicry Memorization Method. Less appropriately, the term “method” has been
applied to single governing principles that can be introduced in any
full –fledged method: thus we can speak of the Structural. Principle, the Statistical Principle, the Contrastive Principle,
or the Programming Principle. A given method by itself is not a sufficient
condition of success –a bad teacher can ruin a good method can ruin
a good teacher. A given method
is not even a necessary condition of success—a method effective and
feasible in one situation may be ineffective and / or impracticable
in another situation. The conclusion that the strategy and tactics
of language teaching has to be adapted to the situation sounds obvious
but goes against the grain. The inter-War period saw the rise of aBabel of “methods” each claiming
to have seen the light and some amounting to little more than partial
statements, single principles. Language teaching became a matter of
allegiance if not fad and fashion or rank competitive commercialism. A naïve conception of sober facts and experimental
educational psychology only served to confirm the dogmatism. The ethnology and sociology of language learning
and language teaching were ignored.
The comparative indifference of students of linguistics till
the Second World War in setting up programmes for Americans learning
the usual and the more exotic foreign languages and for speakers of
Korean, Japanese, Spanish Arabic, and other languages learning English
led to the emergence of the so-called Mimicry Army method pattern
practice Audio lingual Oral aurel Memorization Method (which incorporates
some of the principles of the Direct Method, the Structural Principle,
and the Contrastive Principle). What the linguists have done since is not a
dogmatic espousal of this method, but the stressing of a comprehensive approach, of our relative
Ignorance of the whole
language learning process I its psychological, linguistic, and socio-cultural
aspects, and of the need for trying out different methods and their
“fit” with different situations.
In the field of language teaching we should cultivate the philosophy
of “both–and” rather than the philosophy of “either-or”.
This of course does not absolve us from the responsibility
of weeding out techniques based on a fundamental misunderstanding
of the nature of a languages based on a fundamental misunderstanding
of the nature of language learning and exposing their apparent “ successes”
dependent on exceptionally favourble situations or markedly of reformulating
older methods by supplementing gaps and removing basic defects.
In the subsequent discussion we shall concentrate on problems specific
to language teaching and leave out educational and administrative
problems faced by all teaching such as the entrenchment of vested
interests, limited monetary and technological resources, poor morale
in learners and teachers, limited availability of hours for school
and home learning, scarcity of qualified teachers, the allocation
of initiative and responsibility among the planners and the teachers.
We shall also leave out of account all problems of adequate testing
and follow-up whether general or specific to language learning, Poorly
conceived final tests are of course a series threat in that they constitute
a short-term motive antagonistic to improved methods (“ what can I
do? I have to pass the examination somehow or make the boys pass the
PROBLEMS AND PRINCIPLES
Since it is our present intention not to make a detailed survey of
various methods and techniques but merely to present a broad perspective
against which to evaluate them, it will be advantageous to group the
“problems”, i.e., the points calling for decisions of educational
policy and pedagogic technique around the main types of language teaching
situations and to indicate the general “Principles” governing these
decisions and entering into different methods against each problem.
When we put language teaching
in its social and cultural context, language teaching may be seen
to be simply a special case of conscious enculturation or conscious
acculturation. These terms borrowed from anthropology refer to the
processes through which a person becomes a full-fledged member of
some community or cultural group. So, a child is said to undergo enculturation
in growing into or being educated into a fully participating, member
of the community he is born into.
An immigrant, on the other hand, is said to undergo acculturation
in being slowly assimilated into his adopted community and becoming
fully conversant with its way of life.
It is obvious that we can apply these ideas to language teaching (and learning) and gain a whole new perspective. In doing so we have to think of the learner
in relation to the language network he is a member of. A language network may comprise smaller language
networks. Each network is a set of language varieties in continued
mutual contact and subject to extensive or limited bilingualism. Typically
a compact network comprise a standard language variety and a set of
nonstandard varieties closely related to it.
India is a typical loose networks, link languages, and even
Bearing these things in mind and leaving out exceptional cases (e.
g… teaching the deaf and the dumb, an anthropologist teaching himself
a tribal language), we can set out the following kinds of typical
language teaching situations.
First Language Teaching --- We can take the skills of speaking
and listening for granted: the child learns by accomplishment only
reading, writing, and, possibly, the more effective use of language
as a medium of other learning: this is linguistic enculturation par
excellence. First language is going to be a filter for
all other languages learned by accomplishment rather than growth.
The locus of teaching—the home base of the first language or some
area where it is a minority language—will make a great difference
to the purpose and the technique of teaching.
Standard Language Teaching—When we teach the standard language
of the area to a child speaking a non –standard dialect of it or a
language other than the network language, we have a much wider gap
between the child’s initial equipment and the goal of enculturation.
An example would be teaching Hindi to speakers of Braj or Bhili or
to Gondi or Bengali speakers settled in the Hindi-adherent area.
Second Language Teaching—This is different from Foreign language
teaching (To below) because there is an element of enculturation in
it—the target network to which the learner belongs. The chances of
exposure to “ live” outside the classroom are better than for T though
not so good as for P to q. Less
typically the second language will be a language other than the link
language (e, g. Bengali to a Tamil—speaking learner, Spanish to a
Classical Language Teaching –Since the opportunities for meeting
alive speaker are small or non –existent, naturally greater attention
is paid to the written medium and specific literary or religious styles.
Normally the classical language will have a place in the learner’s
network (e. g. Sanskrit in India, Latin in Europe).
Foreign Language Teaching –This represents the other end of
the scale: it is linguistic acculturation of the learner to a language-which
has a meaning to him only in the loosest network of all the civilized
world. The chances that there
is a cultural or linguistic gap between the learner’s filtering language
(typically the first language but sometimes also the standard or the
link language where different from the first language) and the target
language are greater under T than under Q,R, or S.
The locus of teaching –the learner’s own country or the target
language country—and the exact purpose in view (e. g., belles letters,
technical literature, intelligence work) will make a great difference
to the principles of selection, arrangement, and presentation.
We can now take these
types up one by one.
First language teaching:
(P1) The skills selected are the visual-manual ones, re-expression,
and style. The muscular-sensory
base is an entrance condition.
(P2) Three of the governing purposes are equipping the learner
with the vehicle of his in-group culture, and with a medium of instruction.
Standard language teaching :
(Q1) This is the language to which the learner is going to be
exposed most in his life –including life outside the intimate circle. Some informal learning by growth or accomplishment
can be normally assume at the time of entrance.
(Q2) The teacher also serves as a model, therefore he should
have native or near-native control of the target language.
(Q3) The governing purposes are equipping the learner with a
sound base for the study of the regional literature, with the vehicle
of the whole life in the region beyond the narrow circle of intimates,
with a medium of instruction, and with an intellectual insight into
the language he is likely to use most often.
(Q4) The material selected, arranged, and presented must be based
on sound linguistic analysis. If
no sound linguistic description exists, preparing one in the first
step—a phonology, a grammar, and a lexicon.
(Q5) Where the linguistic gap between the learner’s first language
or dialect and the target variety or style is narrow, special care
should be taken (especially in the early stages) not to present the
material in prescriptive or proscriptive terms. The learning to be
accomplished is the formation of new skills by the side of those the
learner already possesses and not the reformation of existing skills.
The latter approach is likely to reduce motivation through
creating boredom, alienation, antagonism .4
(Q6) The British sociologist Basil Bernstein distinguished between restricted
and elaborated code’s 5 Adapting
it for our purpose we can distinguish between the stereotyped, reduced
style of the intimate circle conveying intimacy, shared emotion, and
concrete face-to face learning on the one hand and the flexible, elaborated
style of public, impersonal contract which serves as the vehicle of
highly individual emotion, of abstract, impersonal learning about
objects or interpersonal relations. Compare the way in which an Indian
parent would transmit the family craft to the child with the minimum
of verbalization and formal measurement and the way in which a teacher
would do it in a craft school. There
is evidence that speaker of non- prestige languages (e. g., non-standard
varieties, tribal languages) are likely to possess only the reduced
style when they enter school, where all learning is primarily verbal
and dependent on the elaborated style. It is the function especially
of the language teacher (if not of all teachers) in the first few
school years to see that this deficiency is made up.
(Q7) Once a through basic familiarity with the target language
is assured and the necessary level of maturity is reached, “language
that” can be introduced by the side of “learning how” in explaining
the materials presented. Indeed the description of this target language
is the best vehicle for conveying an insight into the working of language
in general. Rudiments of linguistic are as much a part
of” Social studies” as the rudiments of civics or history. These also constitute a good working base for
later acquisition of other languages.
Needless to say, this linguistics should be sound though rudimentary.
(Q8) To enable the learner to be on his own in the follow-up.
The course should include the following skills building up his vocabulary
and the proper use of dictionary or a reference grammar.
Also applicable –when
the linguistic gap between the learner’s filter language and the target
standard languages is considerable-are: R2-R7, T6.
Second language learning:
(R1) In learning a second language which is not a link language
in the network to which the learner belongs, the target is the same
as in all modern foreign language teaching (T1)—namely, to be able
to listen speak, read, and write it in a manner approximating that
of the educated native speaker of that language.
(R2) But, in learning a second language which serves as a link
language in the network to which the learner belongs, this
target is not likely to be realistic.
(The reasons that follow also apply to some extent to a standard
language like Hindi or Colloquial Arabic to learners in their widely
dispersed areas.) To the extent that Hindi or English are vehicles
of Indian life, the emergence of Indian Hindi of Indian English as
distinct from Hindi-Hindi or English- English is not only inevitable
but also functional. It is
functional because this is one way in which the non-native learners
make it “theirown”. It is
in evitable because of the frequency with which the link language
is used between two non-native speakers and taught by a non-native
teacher who serves as a model to the learners in his charge.
(R3) Linguistic and cultural resemblances (if any) in the form
of obvious cognates and borrowing (excluding “false friends” like
‘education’ in Hindi and ‘punishment’ in Marathi) should be exploited
in establishing a working base in the beginning.
Such resemblances leading to parallelism of structures and
meanings should make for a some what freer use of translation in initial
practice and subsequent practice.
(R4) A guarded use of the learner’s language
as a medium of instruction is not harmful if limited to unobtrusive
glossing of presented texts (without making the learner repeat them,
without “sṭye Kai māne billi ) verbal explanations, and classroom formulas
(“your turn”) and not extended to translation by way of initial and
subsequent practice. Even
in such cases it should be replaced by the target language at the
earliest opportunity (e. g., using paraphrase or associative pairing
for glossing new vocabulary items).
A ritually perfect direct method involving slow pace and extensive
use of objects, actions, and pictures may be unsuitable or impractical
with adult learners, though it can work well with children.
I the verbal explanations of pronunciation and grammar in the
text-book are as self-contained and clear as possible, the teacher
can dispense with reading them aloud or reproducing them in the class-room
–thus the learner’s language will not obtrude in the classroom experience.
(R5) The careful staging and sequencing of
grammatical tools and structures and of vocabulary items –especially
the former –is especially important in second and foreign language
teaching. This can save much costly and heart –breaking
remedial work later on—prevention is always better than cure. More useful and better learnable items should
come first so as to establish a working basis: learnability is promoted
by having small enough installments: items between which there is
bad carry –over should be separated: items between which there is
good carryover should be in the favourable order: items between which
there is no carry-over (e. g., bits of verbal and nominal structure)
should be put in the same stage so that they help to create a working
(R6) As the course advances the learner should
be weaned from the doctored vocabulary and grammar on the reception
side. At all stages the receptive stock is going to exceed the productive
(R7) Effective presentation and subsequent
practice has to reconcile three different demands: each can be temporarily
sacrificed but not permanently. They
are: liveliness through association with meaningful situations: automatic
responses through careful drilling: insightful improvisation through
induction from examples a and limited amount of rule-application. Liveliness is ensured through visual and audio-visual
aids, dramatization ranging from question-answer to a full-scale dialogue
or story and keeping the material close to the learner’s interests.
Habituation is ensured through audio-aids and drilling: it
is essential for building up a working base in phonology and grammar.
Improvising is encouraged by variation drills, guided dialogue
or composition, and learning to learn. Programming makes use of both
habituation and improvisation. In no case should the target language material
consist of disjointed sentences: it can be organized around some situation
and or some phonological or grammatical patterns to be put across.
Disjointed and ungraded material has a place only in the end-of-the
Also applicable are Q2, Q4, Q8, T3, to T8
Classical language teaching:
Reading and writing are more important than listening and
speaking, and reception and reproducing is more important than production;
accuracy is more important than speed.
(S2) However to ensure liveliness and to establish a working
base in phonology and grammar, some listening and speaking is used
in the early stages.
(S3) Translation from the target language (not to the target
language) is used for initial and subsequent practice and for testing
(S4) To ensure “authenticity” of the texts and examples to which
the learner is exposed, classics are excerpted and graded. Grammar
should be firmly linked to these and not taught for its own sake.
applicable are Q4, R3, R6.
Foreign language teaching:
(T1) Teaching a foreign
language as a full-pledged target makes it like teaching a second
language (see R1).
(T2) Teaching a foreign language as a library language (e.g.,
chemical German) makes it like teaching a classical languages (see
S1, S2, S3).
(T3) Teaching a modern foreign language as a base for the study
of literature cannot be treated like classical language for a living
literature is rooted in the “live” ordinary use of language: its deviations
from the ordinary language can only be appreciated by some one who
is familiar with the latter.6
(T4) Since teaching a foreign language as a full-fledged language
is likely to be organized on a limited scale, aptitude tests involving
more difficult skills in the standard language familiar to the prospective
learner and / or more elementary skills in unfamiliar or artificial
language material may be instituted an entry condition.
(T5) Where a noticeable cultural gap exists between the target
language and the filter language, the need for acculturation to a
novel categorization of experience should be emphasized. Learning a new language is not simply learning to attach strange
noises to familiar meanings: it is also learning new meanings. The
initial break-through is important and translation is likely to retard
ability “ to think in the new language”.
The material in the text should therefore be culturally authentic
and plausible (cfS4)
(T6) Where the phonetic habits of the target language are noticeably
different from those of the filter language, the teacher should not
hesitate to use phonetics and should not make do with crude” phonetic
translations” (e. g., German ö like Hindi oe). If the conventional
orthography is noticeably unphonetic or involves the learning of a
new script, the teacher should not hesitate to use phonetic transcription
to fill in the gap as needed.
(T7) Where a teacher does not have a native-like control of the
target language, an informant can be used as an audio-aid. Even otherwise the teacher’s burden may be
lightened by using audio-aids for listening practice –initial and
Also applicable are Q4,
R3 to R7.
It is a difficult task requiring long experience to judge the mutual
suitability of the following factors in a language teaching situation:
The learner with his motivation, aptitude, and entrance condition:
The overall purpose (specifically, the uses to which the learner is
going to put the skills to be learned):
The target (specified in syllabuses and the pattern of the final test:
course for translators and interpreters have of courses a separate
The teacher with his motivation, aptitude, control of the target language,
and training as a teacher:
The class-room aids, namely: the texts ungraded, graded and programmed:
manuals for teaching the art of translation from and into the target
language: the informant (or mechanical computer-based substitutes
like the Eliza: (programme): the audio–aids (tape, phonograph, radio)
the audio-visual aids (film, television); the visual-aids (objects,
The library aids, namely: the reference books (phonology, grammar,
lexicon, graphonomy, stylistics): tape and record library; reading
library; the teaching machines:
The teacher’s and tester’s aids, namely: the teacher’s handbooks:
pre-fabricated methods; frequency counts of phonological, graphic,
grammatical, and lexical units and structures; contrastive studies:
error analyses and the machine tools.
The linguistic conditions, namely: the filter languages present: the
out-of-the classroom exposure, if any, to the target language or its
replicas (e. f., Indian English, “Missionary Marathi”): the social
standards of acceptability:
The pedagogical and administrative conditions, namely: the learner-to
teacher ratio and relation (the extremes of self-teaching and mass-teaching
meet; 7 the available time and its scheduling;
the physical conditions; the
physical conditions; the allocation of responsibility (the teacher
doing everything versus the teacher merely “administering” the aids):
The method or directive principles of the course and its execution
(together with its presuppositions about learning and about language).
There is the element of the “given” (limits on availability and the obligation
to make use of the more readily available) in all these factors except
the last: all of these, however, are subject to some selection after
evaluation and some manipulation. Flexibility and resilience are the
What the language scientist –the linguist, the psychologist, ethnologist
of language, and the student of stylistics all rolled into one –has
to offer are: the right sort of pre-suppositions about language in
general; the linguistic, stylistic statistical and socio-cultural
data on the target language variety or style); and the analysis of
the linguistic conditions.
The least he can do is to tell what language is
not so is to dispel the hold of home made linguistics.
The teaching of Modern Indian Languages In India
(Prepared by Ashok R. Kelkar, M.A. (Poona) Ph.
D. (Cornell) Prof. Of Applied Linguistics Centre of Advanced Study
in Linguistics (University of Poona) at Deccan College, Poona.
Shills, the American sociologist, has offered1 the tempered
hope that the social scientist can (note the verb) work with policy-makers-without
either despising them or cringing or kowtowing before them. I happen to be a social scientist and I happen
to very much share this hope: that is why I am here. One important condition
for this “working with” is (of course apart from the readiness to
work) that the policy-makers should put himself in the shoes of the
social scientist and the other way round.
The two background papers I have presented to this Conference-namely,
“Language: Linguistics: the Applications “and “Language teaching:
A perspective” –constitute an attempt to promote this condition.
The present paper naturally, therefore, presupposes them.
SURVEY OF EXISTING FACILITIES AND MATERIALS
The facilities for teaching Modern Indian languages
other than Hindi as second languages in secondary schools are virtually
unknown. Besides it is useful to be aware of all
materials on Modern Indian Languages –no matter what kind of facilities
they have grown out of. It will be more realistic for these reasons
to glance beyond the terms of reference of this Conference in this
preliminary section. (From now on we shall use the short form MIL
for ‘Modern Indian Language’.)
MIL as a First Language
changes in the 1920s and 1930s in our educational system or rather,
systems led to the MILs finding a place beyond the so-called “ vernacular
schools” (Primary stages and alternate lower secondary stage) in the
English -teaching secondary schools (alternate lower secondary stage
and higher secondary stage ) and in the system of
higher education (under-graduate stage in different faculties
and post –graduate specialization within the arts faculty) A good
deal of monolingual material –texts, readers,. Grammars, dictionaries has grown out of this:
it is of very uneven quality. Even
now when an adult thinks of teaching himself or his child a MIL other
than their first language, he instinctively turns to the primary and
secondary school readers.
are also taught as first languages out of India not only in Pakistan and Ceylon but also among “Indians“ abroad-Gujarati
I East Africa and Tamil in Malaysia, for example. Most probably Indian materials are imported in such cases.
India one must note exceptional circumstances pertaining to some MILs
taught as first languages _Urdu, Sindhi, Kashmiri, and languages outside
the Eighth Schedule –notably English, Nepali, Konkani, and others.
Some MILs) notably Bengali and Tamil) are also taught as first
languages away from their home region.
MILs as a Standard Language of the area where
a non-standard dialect is firmly attached to the recognized standard
language of the region by virtue of the narrow linguistic gap between
the two (e. g. North Marathi of rural Vidarbha, Kathiawari of West
Gujarat, North Kannada of north west Mysore) or of historical circumstances
(e. g. Kachhi in Gujarat, Bhojpuri in the Hindi area), no special
statement need be made as the standard language is culturally “identified”
with the first language. (The peculiar educational problems aristing
out of this have been touched in section III of another paper prepared
by the author for this Conference-Background Document No. 4”Language
teaching: A perspective”. The
same goes for the problem of speakers of tribal and other unrecognized
questions of teaching the regional MIL to tribals and other minority
groups is there and has not always been satisfactorily tacked. Minority schools or tribal schools are not always present (e.g.
Marathi speakers I Uttar Pradesh, Kataris and other tribals in West
Maharashtra): some ordinary schools and many institutions of higher
education provide for the minority language (e. g.
Marathi in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh). The teaching
of the regional MIL in English medium schools and in minority schools
all over India) needs to be strengthened—especially where the regional
MIL is other than Hindi.
MILs as a Link Language in India
question of teaching Hindi as a link language is considered in two
other documents for this Conference and so will not be examined here.
We may note in passing, however, that bilingual dictionaries between
Hindi and other MILs produced for this purpose are also useful for
teaching these other MILs to Hindi-knowing learners.
The same is true of contrastive analyses between Hindi and
other modern Indian languages.
MIL other than the Link language as Second Language
pursuance of one version of the “Three Language Formula” the teaching
of MILs other than Hindi to Hindi-speaking children was taken up in
some secondary schools in the Hindi area. This would mean, for example,
that Marathi where already provided for the Marathi-speaking minority
was also offered by the Hindi-speakers. Occasionally a new language
course (especially in a Dravidian language) may have been started.
The present state of affairs is not known to the writer.
Some State Governments
(e. g. Maharashtra) and some Universities (e. g. the University of Poona) now require their employees to show
some working knowledge of the regional language accepted by them as
a medium. The Union Government also encourages its employees in the
same direction (e. g. I.A.S. officers assigned to a State may be asked
to acquire some knowledge of the language of that State).
Arrangements for teaching and testing are not always satisfactory—either
too little (e. g. just the
script) or too much (e. g.
the reading of a novel that
may not be especially representative of the “Working” language ) is
often asked of them. Some privately circulated material has grown
out of these halting attempts.
the level of higher education, the cases that I am aware of are the
following: the provision of Gujarati, Tamil, etc. as an integral -part
of the M.A. Hindi course at the K. M. Institute of Hindi
Studies and Linguistics, Agra University, the provision of Comparative
Literature Studies at this same institution and at jadavpur University
the provision for Marathi at Deccan College Post graduate and Research
Institute, Poona and at Wilson College, Bombay (with language laboratories
at both places): and the provision for elementary MIL courses at Annamalai
there are the stray efforts (private tutors, small-scale courses,
self-teaching) towards meeting the needs of Indians moving out of
their own regions (0n a business or on an official academic. or religious mission) or of on Indians who wish to learn a MIL as
a second language for cultural motives.
Occasionally some State or institutional encouragement and
help may be forth coming, but mostly they have to be on their own.
Of course there are specialized bodies like the Antar Bharati, which
how ever is not doing as well as one would wish.
A certain amount of stray material
has been published in order to meet demands in this category by presenting
one MIL through the medium of English or of another MIL. Some of this is useful: but a good deal is worthless-especially
most of the inexpensive self-help books in English or Hindi. One must also mention here ambitious multilingual
undertakings like-Bhārat Bhārat
a series of Hindi guides to other
MILs publishedby the Rashtrabhasha Prachar Samit, Wardha; the 16-laNguage
classified thesaurus and phrase bok by V. D. Naravane (the explanation
are in Hindi): and the omnibus guide in English by P. Adeltha sīta Devii.
MIL as a foreign Language
Foreign visitors to India like Christian missionaries,
official’s businessmen, scholars, or peace Corps Volunteers make their
own personal or institutional arrangements either before entering
India or after. These arrangements often embrace the members
of their families.
(especially Hindi, Urdu, Bengali, and Tamil) are being learned as
foreign languages outsides India –especially in the U.K., U.S.A.,
the U.S.S.R., France and Germany.
A visit to India or Pakistan need not be in view.
This may take the form of self-teaching, of study art an institution
of higher learning, of an under-graduate course (in the U.S.A.), or
even of a secondary school subject (in the U.S. S. R.).
respectable body of teaching and self-teaching material has grown
out of this activity. Some
of the best items are out of print or unpublished, how event. Some
OF THE English-medium material is prepared in Indians and also used
by English-knowing Indians. Most of the audio-aids on MILs and of the books
for learning less known MILs have been prepared under foreign auspices.
Material from the U.K., France, and Portugal goes back to pre-Independence
days; material from the U.S. A., the U. S.S. R. and Germany’, on non-classical
language more recent.
The teaching of MILs as second or foreign languages
has been carried on in India and abroad, but all this activity has
on the whole remained isolated from the vigorous modern language movement
embracing English, French, German, Spanish, Russian, and Italian and
consequently from much of the technical Know-how that the movement
has accumulated to its credit. MILs as second or foreign languages
have practically no place on the educational man of the world or (with
the exception of Hindi) even of India.
two documents were presented at a Conferences on the Methodology of
Teaching Indian Languages as Second Languages in Secondary Schools.
New Delhi. November 1968 and published in the Proceedings, New Delhi:
Ministry of Education, Government of India, p. 71-91, 91-95.
-1. Ottto Jespersen (in his Languages7.4) has made
a similar observation about his son. Cf. also Ruth Hisch Weir, Language
in the crib, The Hague: Mouton, 1962.
2. This social satisfaction
in language use is so strong that a person may go on speaking to another
person even when knowing fully well that the other person has not
learned the language being used.
This name is sometimes given to the
method of teaching Sanskrit traditionally used in India before the
introduction of the Grammar-translation Method from the West (through
R.G. Bhandarkar’s books, for example.
There is no clear description available.
For a fuller discussion see “Problems
of un-recognised speech forms in India)” by Ashok R. Kelkar in the Transactions of the 1967 Seminar
on language and Society in India Simla; India Institute of Advanced
Study in the press)
In several articles see for example,
the one in penguin Survey of the social Sciences 1965 ed. J. Gould.
This is a point which enthusiasts of
English literature that are hostile or suspicious towards language
teaching are apt to be blind to.
The learner-to-teacher relations may
present special problems e. g., possibility of resentment against
an outsider coming as a teacher a city-man in a village school, a
Hindi-specking teacher in a Non-Hindi area displacing Hindu or knowing
locals as teachers.
In “The Calling of sociology” in Theories
of Society (ed. Talcott Parsons and others), New York; Free Press,
1961, vol. II.