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Trends in teaching and learning of English

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January 10, 2016

Trends in teaching and learning of English

English language is widely used not only in India but all over the world. Today it works as a connecting language across all barriers. In this era of globalization, English is the best medium to communicate with people across the globe. The accents may be different, the pronunciation may be different but it definitely helps in conveying the feelings, emotions and sentiments of one person to another. In this context today English should be taught to learners so that they are able to interact in this language with a fair amount of fluency in speaking, reading and writing. Hence, to achieve this, there needs to be a change in the teaching and learning pattern of this language.

English language teaching is a continuous process which needs many changes from time to time. Earlier this language was taught with the objective that the Indians could speak, read and write the language for the benefit of the rulers of the raj. But today the focus has changed and it is now a means of communication. It is now taught as a development of language skill. This transition is a need of the hour for two reasons.

1. To produce fully competent English knowing bilinguals to focus on English as a means of communication.
2. English as a means to learn content i.e subjects like Science, Mathematics, Social Science etc. English should be made very simple.

Hence, to achieve these objectives the change in teaching and learning methods should be made from the conventional GTM – Grammar Translation Method, where formal grammar of the language was the base and a mandatory requirement to learn English language. The GTM was derived as a method of teaching Greek and Latin. Here learners learn grammatical rules then apply these rules by translating sentences between the target language and the native language.

This method had two goals:
1. To develop students, reading ability to a level where they can read literature in target language.
2. To develop students, general mental discipline.

There were some demerits of this method, which are as follows:

1. Students learn the rules by rote memory/learning.
2. The focus was more on form of sentences rather than the content.
3. No listening or speaking practice or any communicative aspects of the language were taken care of.

Paradigm shift needed for teaching and learning of English

Today there is a shift towards Functional approach and the latest is Constructive approach.

The Functional approach taught the elements of this language through various functions rather than the topics of grammar. But then there was less reinforcement to the teaching and learning process. As a result experts see Constructivism as a better option to teach English as foreign language or second language. In Constructivist approach apart from the Functional approach there are assignments at the end of the lesson to consolidate the teaching and learning of the learners.

Earlier this was achieved through black board, projectors /OHP, audio tapes, authentic and meaningful contextualised discourse, teacher centered activities and many more. Now the new methods insist that the learner is at the centre while the teacher is in the background. The teacher’s role is that of a helper or a facilitator. The learner who is in the lead should show curiosity for creative thinking, be self confident and enthusiastic about going ahead of the conventional ways of learning.

The teacher should motivate the learners to think out of the box and instill self confidence in them.

In order to achieve this paradigm shift, teachers should also believe in reflective practice. Teachers should introspect and improve wherever necessary keeping in mind the limitations of the institution, students, society and other factors. If the teacher has the urge to improve, only then can he think of new methods, trends and applications to be implemented in the teaching and learning of English language.

ajitAjit P Thosar teaches English at St Joseph ET High School, Bilimora, Gujarat. He has been working as key resource person (KRP) in several workshops on different subjects arranged by different government agencies. He is a writer, reviewer and translator of several projects by Gujarat State School Textbook Board and a member of ELTAI and IATFL. He was awarded Best Teacher Award 2010 by Knowledge Olympiad Society, Hyderabad.

References :
1. Adrian Underhill – Trends in English Language Teaching Today
2. Ahmed Saber – New Trends in Teaching & Learning English as Foreign Language
3. M. Ilankumaran ( Dr. ) and R. Abilasha Trends in English Language Teaching: A Novel Perspective
4. Reema Mittal ( Dr. ) – Emerging Trends in English Language Teaching
5. Yogesh Ramani & Viki Modi – Trends in English Language Teaching Today.

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