Language and Linguistics
Ashok R . Kelkar



Language Teaching ---A Perspective


Though 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.





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.


(1)            Learning 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.


(2)        The 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.


(3)        Broadly 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.


(4)            Learning 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.


(5)        One 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.


(6)            Learning 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 sentences.


            (IIIa) Inventory of vocabulary items.

            (IIIb) Systematic combinations of these


            (IVa) Graphic skills at the  script level

            (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  situation.


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.


(7)        The rules or traits just classified are to be used in various ways which may be set out as follows:


(A)     Reception

(A1)Recognition (sensory skills) Identification

(A1a) Listening

 (A2b) Reading


(A2) Comprehension (‘mental’ skills) Identification

(A2a) Listening

(A2b) Reading


(B)     Production

(B1) Transmission (motor skills) Execution

(B1a) Speaking

(B1b) Writing

            (B2) Expression (‘mental skills) selection of the form

                        (B2a) Speaking

                        (B2b) Writing


(C)     Reproduction


(C1) Repetition (chiefly motor and sensory skills)

(C1a)Recitation from memory

(C1b)’Listen and speak’

(C1c)’ ‘Look and write’

(C1d)’Writing from memory

(C1e) ‘Look and Write’

(C1f) ‘Listen and write’


(C2)Re-expression in the same language (chiefly ‘mental’ skills).

    (C2a) Paraphrase with or without change of style

    (C2b) Condensation

    (C2c) Expansion


(C3) Translation from the new language to a more familiar language.

    (C3a) Spoken

    (C3b) Written


(C4) Translation from a more familiar language to the new language.

    (C4) Spoken

    (C4b) Written


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.



(1)           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).






(2)               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.


(10)      In 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


(11)           Language teaching activity may be divided into the following phases:

(1) Behind-the –scene activity:


(a) Selection: Designing the syllabus for a teaching year or the lesson-plan for a teaching-hour are both examples of this activity.


(b) Arrangement: 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.


(II) The teaching proper:



(a)            Presentation:  This 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 be.

(b)           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).


(III) After-the-event activity:


(a)               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.


(b)                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 learner himself.


 It will 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.


(12)           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 examination somehow.”)






(13)           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 classical languages.



(14)           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.


(P)               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.


(Q)             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.


(R)              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 Portuguese-speaking learner.


(S)               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).


(T)               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.


(15)           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.


(16)           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.


(17)           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 ślkṣa) ‘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 “sye 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 base. 


          (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 stock-in –trade.


            (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 –course test.


Also applicable are Q2, Q4, Q8, T3, to T8


(18)           Classical language teaching:


(S1)            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 comprehension.


(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.


            Also applicable are Q4, R3, R6.


(19)           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 subsequent.


Also applicable are Q4, R3 to R7.




(20)           It is a difficult task requiring long experience to judge the mutual suitability of the following factors in a language teaching situation:


(1)               The learner with his motivation, aptitude, and entrance condition:

(2)               The overall purpose (specifically, the uses to which the learner is going to put the skills to be learned):

(3)               The target (specified in syllabuses and the pattern of the final test: course for translators and interpreters have of courses a separate specialized target);


(4)               The teacher with his motivation, aptitude, control of the target language, and training as a teacher:


(5)               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, pictures, gestures):


(6)               The library aids, namely: the reference books (phonology, grammar, lexicon, graphonomy, stylistics): tape and record library; reading library; the teaching machines:


(7)               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.


(8)               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:


(9)               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): and


(10)           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 watch words.


(21)           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.


            Edward 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.




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


            Certain 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.


            MILs 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.


            Within 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 taught 


            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 languages).  


            The 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


            The 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


            In 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.


            At 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 University.


            Finally, 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 ī 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.


            MILs (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.).


            A 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.



            These 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.

3.                   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.

4.                   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)


5.                   In several articles see for example, the one in penguin Survey of the social Sciences 1965 ed. J. Gould.


6.                   This is a point which enthusiasts of English literature that are hostile or suspicious towards language teaching are apt to be blind to.


7.                   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.


8.                    In “The Calling of sociology” in Theories of Society (ed. Talcott Parsons and others), New York; Free Press, 1961, vol. II.