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Teaching in universities- Local language use

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer

Recently, the University Grants Commission (U.G.C) chief, requested the universities to allow students to write their examinations in the local language, even if, the course is offered in English medium. According to him, once the teaching, learning and assessment are done in local languages, students engagement will gradually increase, leading to an increase in the success rate. The BJP-Govt. at the Centre is keen on promoting all Indian languages. “Promotion and regular use of Indian languages in education is a crucial area of focus”, in the new National Education Policy (NEP 2020). It emphasizes the importance of teaching and instruction in the mother tongue and local languages.

All universities in India get two-types of students. One, from local/regional medium-educated i.e., students mostly of mother-tongue-medium – two, from the private English-medium schools. Switching over to English-medium of teaching-learning and writing examinations, is a pretty tough process, for those, that come from the local-mediums. There will be communication gap, if they do not understand the academic jargon in English, in the university teaching. University Professors never come down to the local-language-use in their classes.

It appears, to teach fully in English, is something prestigious. By encouraging local-language in the class, the U.G.C., has raised the curtain for the Bilingual-education-system in the Universities. In fact, bilingual-education is normal in any non-English-speaking country. In India, English is second language to students, as first language being their mother-tongue. The UNESCO defines the second language, ‘as a language acquired by a person in addition to his mother tongue.’

From the beginning, in India, primary education has been encouraged in the student’s mother-tongue/local language, higher education in science, technology and commerce etc., has been in English and it still is.  As a result, there is a strict no…no to local language use. Students were left to struggle hard in learning English and to understand and answer in English. However, some students, educated in local medium, that reached university level, were unable to cope up. They cannot understand or express in the examination paper, with as much ease as, the other English-medium ones could do. For the benefit of all (English-medium students are also from local languages), the U.G.C has liberalized the policy of teaching-learning into local language.

There are many who say, because of English language, our software engineers are getting recognition and our service-sector is at its peak. Though true, knowledge is the primary thing that needs to be told in an understandable language. For a long time, universities are the only places, where education is imparted in the international language, English. Now, English is available everywhere — online and offline — in this internet-social-media-age. English, is getting more importance than its due all over India. Hence, there is a need for promotion of Indian languages, that are depleting and becoming small compared to the big-huge-giant, English.

Moreover, English language is difficult for all Indian students to acquire. The language is too complicated for them to express themselves. Mr. Guru Charan Das, the author and public intellectual, in his column (http://gurcharandas.blogspot.com/2004/10/english-teacher.html): ‘The English Teacher’ 2004 writes, “An attractive lady from Shanghai showed up in Delhi last week in a Chinese delegation and told us proudly about her government’s mission to teach English to every Chinese by 2008… Although, I didn’t think learning English would be so easy, I couldn’t help but admire the ambition.”

So, there are inherent challenges in learning English by the Indian students. So, let us mix a bit of local language too, to make them understand the concepts of science and technology. Nobody says, bye…bye to English, English is needed, however, let us welcome our own local languages too, in the university campuses. It is the timely step taken by the BJP-led-NDA Govt. at the Centre to protect the depleting local languages.

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G Indira
G Indira
Author of the book: The India I Know and of Hinduism. Ex-Publications in -charge Pragna Bharati Organisation, Hyderabad. Academician and free-lancer
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