English Language Teaching
Where are the students from?
The students are local people in their 20s from economically poor backgrounds. Some students are from slum areas. Because the students come from underprivileged families they often lack self-confidence.
In most cases, the student’s parents have had little or no formal education. Their parents are unlikely to be able to afford to send them to a tertiary educational institute. This, and their lack of self-confidence, means that they could easily miss the boat in terms of employment opportunities in the modern world. Hence the poverty trap of one generation is carried over to the next.
Why is learning English important to them?
First of all English is key to getting a reasonable job in modern India. The ability to speak is often tested at job interviews. Employers know that India has a variety of different languages (which varies from State to State) and that increasingly English is becoming the lingua franca of India. The official national language is Hindi, but people in many States, particularly in the south of the country, don’t speak Hindi.
English is also a passport to international job opportunities and higher education within India. For example, if a student studies engineering at university it will probably be taught through the English medium. This is largely because resources such as textbooks and internet articles are far more readily available in English than in Hindi or any State language.
As a result of all this, among young Indian people, there’s a strong link between English ability and personal self-confidence.
Although English is taught at Indian schools, the quality of this teaching is generally very poor. It is no way equips students to, for example, read the Times of India newspaper or to discuss politics with a native English speaker. Native speaking English teachers are highly prized in India because they can teach pronunciation and colloquial English in a way that formal Indian educational organizations can’t.