Back to: Pedagogy of English- Unit 5
According to Block & Trager,
“A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group operates.”
According to Graddol (2010), “Throughout India, there is an extraordinary belief, among almost all castes and classes, in both rural and urban areas, in the transformative power of English. English is seen not just as a useful skill, but as a symbol of a better life, a pathway out of poverty and oppression.” He further added,
“The challenges of providing universal access to English are signiﬁcant, and many are bound to feel frustrated at the speed of progress. But we cannot ignore the way that the English language has emerged as a powerful agent for change in India.”
The national language policy for school education, the three-language formula recommended by the National Commission on Education 1964–1966, was incorporated into the national education policies of 1968 and 1986.
Four Basic Language Skills
The four basic skills that need to be developed when learning the English language are as follows:
Learners first listen to the spoken language when they are learning a language. The main functions of listening skills are:
- Receiving message
- Constructing meaning from it
- Responding to (spoken/non-verbal) messages.
Listening skills can be developed with the help of audio, interviews, and various activities such as watching videos with subtitles.
Once they start listening, they start repeating what they hear and start speaking it. Speaking can be enhanced by speaking interviews, class speaking, role plays, and other fun speaking activities such as asking short questions related to hobbies and interests as well as via conducting debates and group discussions.
After listening and speaking, learners eventually start reading the symbolically depicted language. Reading skills can be facilitated by reading newspapers aloud in the classroom with a pronunciation correction lecture. It can also be enhanced with reading comprehension passages.
At last, learners start reproducing what they have heard, spoken, and read in the written form. Writing should be taught after teaching reading skills because it needs the proper identification of alphabets, words, and sentences. It should be taught after teaching grammar structure and rules of the language to produce refined sentences.
According to Allen-
“Language is a means of communicating thoughts.”
O. Jesperson opines that,
“Language is a set of human habits, the purpose of which is to give expression to thoughts and feelings.”
According to Webster,
“Language is an audible, articulate human speech as produced by the action of the tongue and adjacent vocal organs.”
All these definitions make it clear that language is used to give expression to the thoughts and feelings of a social group.