|The one Raj legacy other than cricket that keeps haunting India is theEnglish language and the continuing debate on the dominance of English over mother tongues. Those with good English knowledge have always an overriding advantage in Indian society and the respect they earn due to their command in that language is also immense. A young student from an educated and well-to-do family automatically prefers English medium ofeducation; English medium schools are normally keep up good standards and facilities; this automatically makes him eligible for good courses in higher education; he ends up with a plumb job and becomes a successin life. This has made everyone draw a line between the success in life of a person and the English-medium education he got. A simple equation is thus made: English medium schooling leads to good jobs and success inlife. No denying of this fact.|
But there is one another side for this argument. All said and done,after all English is a foreign language and thought processes will always be in one's own mother tongue. Hence there has to be a gap between learning in one's own mother tongue and in a foreign language. Especially this is very much so in lower classes, say, till the end of schooling. So a student can acquire more knowledge faster if he does his studies in his own mother tongue and his comprehension and mastery over the subject would be much better. What he has to do in addition is to learn one another language, English and he will have definitely enough energy to do well in one more language since his learning process of other subjects through his own mother tongue would be considerably and comparatively easier than being through English. Our schooling focuses on quantity and not on quality. Loads and loads of information are fed to the students not worrying how much is being grasped, absorbed and assimilated by the students. This leads to rote learning. The cognitive levels of understanding, comprehension,analysis and appreciation are left out from our schooling system. Many a time what a student would do in lower level gets simply repeated at his college level. The pity is the college students in general donÂt show even a trace of knowledge of those lessons they already studied, nay, 'covered'in schools. It is because they would have learnt it then by memorizing it without understanding and simply forgotten them then and there. Anyone who teaches in the college level would be familiar with this but if nothing has been done to rectify this, the blame is squarely on the shoulders of the teaching community.
What could be ideal is to teach and lay a strong foundation in at least two languages, mother tongue and English and if possible, one more language at least since it is said that till the age of ten children have aptitude for learning languages. Once the children finish the elementary education with strong foundation in languages then in high schools different subjects could be taught up to knowledge and comprehension levels in the mother tongue. A good foundation in languages would stand in good stead both in their understanding of the subjects and also in their communication skills. This lack of a good foundation in languages - in the mother tongue as well as in English - is a common feature and this had been deteriorating fast in the last two decades. Quality or depth of knowledge has become the first sacrifice in the altar of avaricious educationists who vie for quantitity.
English is essential, no doubt, as a bridge with rest of the world. But those who have to cross that ÂbridgeÂ will be so few and with a strong foundation of basics in English any one can develop his virtuosity in English as and when he needs it. A noteworthy point is that even in many of the developing countries that got their freedom from earlier colonization recently have switched over to education through their own mother tongues. But in India with its multilingual and multicultural ethos a common compromising language formula is very hard to reach and we reap the consequences of it.
But, for how long?