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The Best Method to Teach English Language
Article · March 2015
DOI: 10.16962/elkapj
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Dr Jeevan Kumar
Government College (Autonomous), Anantapuramu, Andhra Pradesh
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ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
THE BEST METHOD TO TEACH ENGLISH LANGUAGE
Dr. T. Jeevan Kumar,
Mrs. G. Sailaja,
Assistant Professor of English, Government College
Lecturer in English,
(UG & PG), Ananthapuramu.
Government Polytechnic, Dharmavaram.
Email: [email protected]
Email: [email protected]
ABSTRACT
In the field of English Language Teaching there have been arguments and counter arguments about the role of
various methods, approaches and techniques in learning the language. Over the centuries, these methods and
approaches have been critically in and out of favour in educational programmes. The recent expansion of
technology also led to umpteen innovative methods of teaching such as Teaching Assisted Language Learning
(TALL), Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL), Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Web
Enhanced Language Learning (WELL), and Mobile Assisted Language Learning (MALL). Every year the
institutions of higher learning conduct seminars, conferences, and teacher-training programmes and invite
experts on English Language teaching who give interesting talks. But the question is, Do they really help us? Do
we effectively use those techniques in the classroom? Do we actually get success in improving the students’
powers of expression? If the answer is ‘Yes’ then why the Indians are lacking communication skills and one
witnesses a marked failure in the effective use of English.
A study is made in the paper based on the Report that was published by British Council in The Deccan
Herald. The Report says:
The pace of improvement in the English language skills of the Indian population is currently too slow to prevent
India from falling behind other countries which have implemented the teaching of English in primary schools
sooner, and more successfully.
Thus, the present paper studies some of the reasons for our failures and also attempts to give a remedy to those
problems.
The liberalization of the Indian
now call centres, multinational companies
economy ushered in all kinds of reasons to
that need trainers to equip their employees
learn the English language. In the last
with communication skills, besides medical
century, people who specialized in English
transcription centres which need efficient
joined either teaching or the civil services.
translators and reporters. In addition to
But today a whole new spectrum of job
this, those who are desirous of immigration
opportunities has opened up. There are
to the West also need the help of the
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
professionals to clear tests such as GRE,
sooner,
and
more
TOEFL, IELTS, etc. Hence, the teaching
successfully.
of English language became essential in the
English is one of the causes
Indian classroom.
of Indian universities falling
…
Poor
The present paper is based on the
far short of rival countries in
Report that was published by The British
the quality of teaching and
Council, Britain’s International Cultural
research.1
Relations Body, in The Deccan Herald.
In conclusion, the study says a range of
The Report says that India is falling behind
approaches is required to improve English
China in its attempts to increase the use of
proficiency in India, and no single method
English,
will help.
risking
squandering
a
key
economic advantage. The study estimates
Before we look at the remedies to
less than five per cent of the Indian
solve this problem, let us have a glimpse at
population speaks English which would
the various methods and approaches which
mean that only about 55 million people in
India will be fluent English speakers by
2010.
are critically in and out of favour in
educational programmes.
In comparison, China adds 20
‘Grammar-Translation Method’ is
million English speakers each year as a
result of new education policies that require
English to be a compulsory subject in
primary schools.
China had 200 million
English users in 1995 and currently it has
reached
nearly
400
million
English
the oldest method of teaching English in
India.
The method emphasizes reading,
writing, translation, and the conscious
learning of grammatical rules. Its primary
goal is to develop literary mastery of the
second language.
speakers. The Report further says:
Memorization is the
main learning strategy and students spend
The rate of improvement in
their class time talking about the language
the English language skills
instead
of the Indian population is
According to this method, English words,
currently too slow to prevent
phrases, and sentences are taught by means
India falling behind other
of word-for-word translation in to mother
countries
tongue. In the words of O’ Grade, et al.
which
have
implemented the teaching of
English in primary schools
(1993),
of
talking
in
the
language.
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
The curriculum requires the
are skilled in handling language material.
memorization of paradigms,
This method suits to those students who are
patterns,
vocabulary,
linguistically strong as its basic principles
with translation being used
that the aural-oral appeal is stronger than
to
the visual in learning a foreign language.
and
test
knowledge.
the
acquired
Consequently,
Dr. Michael West, the longtime
the role of L1 (that is,
Principal of the Teachers’ Training College,
mother tongue or native
studied the problem of teaching English in
language)
India in relation to the bilingual needs of an
is
quite
prominent.2
Indian child. His method ‘Dr. West’s New
But the method ignores the natural way of
Method’ is a reaction against the Direct
learning language and it aims at passive
Method and suggests some improvement on
mastery of the language.
It binds the
it just as the Direct Method was a reaction
language within the rules of grammar and
against the Translation Method. He views
makes the students passive listeners.
that it is sufficient for the Indians to acquire
Another method of teaching English
largely a reading acquaintance with English
is ‘the Direct Method’ that came as a
though speaking and writing are included in
reaction against the Grammar-Translation
the English curriculum. But many people
Method. It is a method in which a new
criticized this method as they feel that the
word or expression is connected in the
language learning cannot be justified if it is
pupil’s mind directly with what stands for
exclusively for reading purpose.
and not through the medium of vernacular.
‘Bilingual
Method’
is
another
English is taught in the medium of English
method that strikes the balance between the
and not in the medium of the mother-
grammar-translation method and the direct
tongue. The pupils get many opportunities
method. In this method, two languages are
to listen to spoken English that is very
used, that is, one that is to be learnt
important for language mastery. It follows
(English) and the mother-tongue. The basic
the natural way of learning the language.
aim of this method is to help the student
But the method has its own disadvantages.
speak and write fluently and accurately in
No doubt the method is very useful in the
the target language. The use of the mother
early stages, but it cannot work well in
tongue makes the students understand
higher classes as it requires teachers who
quickly. But this method too has its own
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
‘The
disadvantages as the use of the mother
Communicative
Approach’
tongue affects markedly the students from
argues that merely knowing how to produce
acquiring a working knowledge of English.
a grammatically correct sentence is not
It also prevents direct thinking in English.
enough.
A communicatively competent
There are other methods like ‘the
person must also know how to produce an
Natural Method,’ ‘The Phonetic Method,’
appropriate, natural and socially acceptable
‘The Audio-lingual Method,’ which also
utterance in all contexts of communication.
stress only on a particular skill determining
‘Hey,
buddy,
you
fix
my
car!’
is
the other skills of the language. Hence, no
grammatically correct but not as effective
method serves as a complete method. A
expression in most social contexts as
complete method or the best method is the
one which develops the four important
‘Excuse me, sir, I was wondering whether I
could have my car fixed today.’
lays
emphasis
on
The
skills – Listening, Speaking, Reading, and
approach
language
Writing.
practice, pupils’ involvement, fluency in
speech, cooperative relationships, etc. But
Besides the aforesaid discussed
methods, there are some approaches of
teaching English. English has been taught
by
using
different
approaches
techniques from time to time.
and
As such,
the approach cannot be implemented in the
Indian classrooms as our classrooms are
over-crowded. Even average teachers with
limited language skills cannot make this
approach a success.
structural approach is one which lasted for
a long time. It creates suitable environment
in the class for learning a foreign language.
It gives command over the language as
‘The Situational Approach’ makes
the language teaching natural, meaningful
and realistic by teaching the structural
there are more opportunities to the pupils to
pattern and vocabulary situationally.
express
and
gives a sound understanding and helps the
experiences in the English language. But
teacher to practise the structure in relating
some critics feel that the teacher cannot
to its meaning.
successfully teach prose, poetry, and
building up a vocabulary of content words.
composition and the present curricula is not
But it has its own limitations like the
suitable to follow this method.
teacher has to do a lot of planning to think
their
ideas,
feelings
It
It also helps him in
of appropriate situation through which to
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
teach the language material meaningfully,
effective use of computers. Sometimes the
lively, and effectively.
management of educational institutions also
‘The Oral Approach,’ and ‘Total
failed to establish computer laboratories to
Physical Response Approach,’ are some
improve the standards of the students. So,
other approaches which also failed to
naturally
improve the communication skills of the
methodologies with the help of computer
students.
The
recent
also could not serve the students.
technology
also
led
expansion
to
of
innumerable
these
innovative
teaching
In fact, every year the Department
innovative methods of teaching such as
of
Teaching Assisted
Learning
institutions of higher learning to conduct
(TALL), Technology Enhanced Language
seminars, conferences, and teacher-training
Learning
programmes so that the experts on the
Language
Language
(TELL),
Computer
Learning
Assisted
(CALL),
Web
Higher
language
education
come
out
encourages
with
the
innovative
Enhanced Language Learning (WELL), and
methodologies that help the teachers in
Mobile
English Language teaching.
Assisted
Language
Learning
But the
(MALL). Due to these methods, English
question is, Do they really help us? Do we
language teaching (ELT) has undergone a
effectively use those techniques in the
purposeful change in terms of syllabus
classroom? Do we actually get success in
design,
improving
instructional
material
and
the
students’
powers
of
This change is
expression? If the answer is ‘Yes’ why in
mainly the outcome of result oriented tasks
India one easily witnesses a marked failure
which led to a need-based instruction. The
in the effective use of English and why do
constant interaction between the Institute
the Indians lack in communication skills.
techniques of teaching.
and the professional world has led to the
The first and the foremost reason for
interflow of ideas and cross-fertilization of
this is that the lack of clarity of vision about
concepts.
its goals.
With this ELT has gradually
India’s association with English
become academically more meaningful and
has been long and multifaceted.
But its
socially more relevant. Unfortunately these
teaching
proved
techniques too could not solve the problem
complicated, thanks to a host of factors
of English language teaching because most
such as professional incompetence of the
of the teachers do not have computer
knowledge and they could not make the
and
learning
have
teacher, lack of interest among students,
improper syllabus design, lack of practice
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
and motivation from the teachers, faulty
speeches,
system of examination, and a general
prescribed to improve Spoken English. To
deterioration
standards.
develop writing skills components like
Another major reason that made the task of
writing letters, reports, memos, orders,
English language teaching and learning
notices,
really problematic is the methodology of
technical
teaching English in schools, colleges, and
summarizing, research papers, articles,
universities.
booklets, brochures, press releases have to
in
education
As a corollary to the functional
formal
teaching,
circulars,
proposals,
agenda,
must
be
minutes,
abstraction
and
be prescribed.
imperatives of English language teaching, it
As language is an over learned skill,
is essential to restructure the syllabus of
the prescribed pieces should become the
English
and
springboard for the simultaneous study of
universities so as to attain the goal of
language and grammar. Another thing that
functional proficiency in English.
The
one has to remember is that the ability in a
syllabus should be so graded that starting
language grows by practice – constant and
with the basics of English language at the
consistent – but not merely by knowing the
lower level, gradually the elementary and
rules of grammar and cramming its
higher level may be introduced in the form
vocabulary.
of interesting and instructive short stories,
English
anecdotes, essays, and poems. Writing of
appropriately structured syllabus which can
popular writers like Shakespeare, Narayan,
be done only by an able teacher. Hence,
Ruskin, etc. may be chosen to capture the
the competence of the teacher also plays a
imagination of the young minds.
major role in the effective teaching of
at
schools,
colleges,
Nowadays, the English language
must
Thus, the knowledge of
be
imparted
through
English.
has gained importance in the Indian
Truly speaking, the competence of
context, more specifically in relation to
teacher is a vital issue to overcome the
business. As a consequence modules such
problems of English language teaching.
as
oral
The fact is that all the methods and
giving
strategies become useless if the teacher is
instructions and directions, participating in
incompetent whereas a competent teacher
meetings,
interviewing,
can make things happen without them.
negotiating skills, demonstrating, making
Specialized training and knowledge is
presenting
reporting,
writing
making
material,
inquiries,
seminars,
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
required to develop linguistic competence
remember the two-way process in which
among English language teachers, which is
involvement
simply not there.
Most of the teachers
students are absolutely essential. It would
remain ignorant of the new approaches,
be no exaggeration to say that in most
latest aids and tools, and the changes taking
classrooms in India learning of English is
place in the pedagogy of teaching and
an
learning. The teachers teach the English
experience. The teacher reads a few lines
language not as a skill as it ought to be but
from the text book and explains the
merely a subject to help their students to get
meaning. The students sit through the class
through the examination. Consequently, at
like dumb driven cattle with practically no
the end of a course, students acquire little
initiative or involvement.
or no proficiency in linguistic skills like
learn nothing of the four basic language
speaking, reading, and writing.
skills. Therefore, one must realize that one
Frankly
speaking, many a teacher themselves are
lacking in these skills. So they should be
given
periodical
extremely
participation
boring,
of
even
the
painful
As such they
can learn something only by doing.
The following are some other
through
suggestions that could be considered to
workshops for better English Language
uplift the standard of all English language
Teaching.
training
and
In this regard M.L. Tickoo’s
views are worth quoting:
tragic state.
In the hands of a teacher
appropriately
learners from the present irredeemable and
trained,
a
structural syllabus can be an
effective tool for teaching
English … It is indeed a
1. The authorities of schools and
colleges should encourage students
to speak only in English.
The
classroom must also be made
interactive by employing various
delightful sight to see a class
techniques
buzzing with activities like
reading, group discussion, buzz
the bee-hive as it gainfully
group activity, debates, elocution,
learns
etc.
by
doing
and
speaking.3
which
like
role-play,
would
involve
play
the
students in the English study and
Another solution to impart English
unconsciously remove the stage
language teaching effectively in the Indian
fright and make the students more
classrooms
articulate.
is
that
the teacher must
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
2. The educational institutions should
a
diploma
course
in
‘Spoken
be empowered and encouraged to
English and Public Speaking’ and
adopt the stream so that all students
‘What
with respect to their varying degree
Not
Taught
in
the
Classroom’
in
addition
to
the
of proficiency in English would
University
prescribed
reap
curriculum;
the
English.
benefits
This
of
learning
English
would
6. The students could be frequently
definitely provide a challenging
exposed to good English plays,
atmosphere
movies of popular classical novels
to
system
is
the
outstanding
students and a healthy atmosphere
and
to the average and weaker students
through
in English;
classrooms.
3. The
conventional
good
English
video
programmes
sessions
in
the
evaluation
Finally, the teaching of English is
modified
not something that ‘you do the tough and
appropriately so that they assess
master the easy.’ But the reverse seems
methods
both
the
should
be
learner’s
theoretical
true. The four components of teaching a
knowledge and oral communication
language – the learner, the teacher, the
skills in English.
class, and the syllabus – if properly
4. As there is a gradual rise in the
organized
and
coordinated,
English
trend towards job oriented courses,
teaching and learning can be effective. To
the university could contemplate
conclude, we can say that unless we rectify
vocationalizing
and overcome the failures we cannot
designing
English
separate
and
English
achieve success.
curriculum for every subject by
analyzing
the
requirement
of
specific jobs in consultation with
the employers and professionals of
various fields.
References
[1] “China has more English speakers than
India,” Deccan Herald, 20 November
2009.
http://www.deccanherald.com/content/3
5. According to the local needs and
standard of the students, the college
could offer an enrichment course or
6979/archives.php. Retrieved on 20-022015.
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue
ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6
[2] William
O’Grady,
Dabrovolsky,
Contemporary
and
Mark
Michael
Aronoff,
Linguistics:
An
Introduction, New York: St. Martin’s
Press, 1993.
[3] M.L. Tickoo, Teaching and Learning
English, New Delhi: Orient Longman
Pvt. Ltd., 2005.
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