Acquisition And Learning Of A Language English Language Essay

Published: Last Edited:

This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

This chapter deals with the basic important aspects of the research report. It throws light on the background of teaching and learning process in general, the concept of municipal schools in India, Andhra Pradesh and Vijayawada. It also includes the background and need of the research, significance, statement, objectives, assumptions, hypothesis, scope and limitations of the research.

1.2 What is language?

A language is a systematic means of communication by the use of sounds or conventional symbols. It is the code we all use to express ourselves and communicate to others. It is a communication by word of mouth. It is the mental faculty or the power of vocal communication. It is a system for communicating ideas and feelings using sounds, gestures, signs or marks. Any means of communicating ideas, specifically, human speech, the expression of ideas by the voice and sounds articulated by the organs of the throat and mouth is language.

Language is a very important part of life. It is indeed a wonderful phenomenon. Only human beings can communicate with each other in various languages.

A human language is a system of remarkable complexity. To come to know a human language would be an extraordinary intellectual achievement for a creature not specifically designed to accomplish this task. A normal child acquires this knowledge on relatively slight exposure and without specific training. He can then quite effortlessly make use of an intricate structure of specific rules and guiding principles to convey his thoughts and feelings to others, arousing in them novel ideas and subtle perceptions and judgments (Chomsky, 1975.4)

Language is an exclusively human property. There are many tools for communication e.g. signs, symbols, gestures, expressions and languages. Out of them language is the most developed, advanced and popular tool for communication. So, language has become an integral part of human life. We cannot think of anything without language.

Language is a defining characteristic of humans that plays a central role in virtually all aspects of human activity, interaction, knowledge and thought. Because language is at the same time a socio-cultural phenomenon and a formal system grounded in human cognition and biology, its study rests at the intellectual interaction of the humanities and the social, biological and behavioural sciences.

Most human knowledge and culture is stored and transmitted in language. Without language, society as we know now would have been impossible. Language in fact is a great tool which has made human civilizations possible. It is also the most important tool for understanding, thinking, for development of knowledge, its storage and improvement.

1.2. 1 Definitions of Language

Language has been defined in different ways by linguists.

According to Bolinger, language is �A system of vocal auditory communication, interacting with the experiences of its users, employing conventional songs composed of arbitrary patterned sound units and assembled according to set rules�. (Pandit, kute and Suryawanshi, 1999. 1)

Wardhaugh defines language as �A system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication�. (Pandit, Kute and Suryawanshi, 1999. 2)

Block and Trager states �Language is a set of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group communicates�. (Boss, 2002. 1)

�Language is the medium through which the child acquires the cultural, moral, religious and other values of society�. (Klein, 1986. 6)

An understanding of language as open, dynamic, energetic, constantly evolving and personal (Shohamy, 2007. 5) encompasses the rich complexities of communication. Language is not a thing to be studied but a way of seeing, understanding and communicating about the world and each language user uses his or her language(s) differently to do this. People use language for purposeful communication and learning a new language involves learning how to use words, rules and knowledge about language and its use in order to communicate with speakers of the language.

Distinctive Features of language

(A) Language is Human

A totally distinctive feature of language is that it is human. It is a very different from that of animal communication. Human language uses the dual feature that is of concurrent system of sound and meaning. Language does not exist in the communication of any other species. So in the words of Dwight Bolinger, �Language is species specific. It is uniquely human trait, shared by the culture so diverse and by individuals physically and mentally so unlike one another.�(Bolinger, 1968. 3)

(B) Language as a system of communication

Language is primarily an instrument of communication among human beings in a community. Humans convey their ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, wishes, experiences to the others by performing certain actions. These actions create sound waves which travel through the air from one person to the others. Thus, language works as a means to express ones communicative needs.

(C) Language as Arbitrary

Both the sound and the meaning bear an arbitrary relationship. It is a matter of convention. Between the sound and the sense the occasional matching is a chance and not a rule.

Hence, this arbitrariness is the relationship that offers a wide field of uniqueness and variety. This property is helpful to the language user who enjoys the openness and freedom to use the language.

(D) Language as Vocal

The primary medium of language is sound. Sounds are called oral aural symbols of communication. It is basically related to the vocal sound system.

(E) Language is learnt

The child learns a language and he/she learns it over a long period of time. His or her language learning starts with various isolated sounds. Gradually he or she acquires the total sound system and grammatical rules.

(F) Language changes

Every language is a living phenomenon. As per the speakers needs it constantly changes and develops. New words are borrowed and absorbed in a language from time to time.

In a way, human language is very significant and important; It is like a raw material to learn anything in one�s life. Language is something that people do in their daily lives and something they use to express, create and interpret meanings and to establish and maintain social and interpersonal relationships.

The vital aspect or property of language is that language is �acquired� and not �inherited�. In the focus of this property, language acquisition becomes very significant in the case of every human being.

1.3 Process and Learning Process

The term �Process� is common in acquisition/learning a study is used in two related meanings. It refers both to the sequence of development [i.e., to the incremental nature of acquisition/learning] and to the factors that determine how acquisition/learning takes place.

Illeris (2007. 3) states learning is a very complex and many- sided matter including �Any process that in living organisms leads to permanent capacity change and which is not solely due to biological maturation or ageing.�

This definition implies that process such as socialization, qualification, competence development and therapy are regarded as special types of learning process where real learning takes place.

1.3 1 (i) Acquisition Vs Learning

There are different opinions about the acquisition of language and learning of language. Krashen�s (1981) opinion is one among them. He distinguishes between �acquisition� and �learning�. The former refers to the subconscious process of picking up a language through exposure and the latter refers to the conscious process of studying it.

According to this view, if a language is internalized subconsciously through exposure in a natural environment the process becomes �acquisition�. In contrast, if a language is internalized consciously through instruction in class room settings the process becomes �Learning�. When a language is internalized subconsciously by a learner, he or she may not have grammatical competence but he or she may have communicative competence in a particular context, and when a language is internalized consciously by him or her, he or she may have grammatical competence, but need not have communicative competence.

(ii) Acquisition and learning of a Language

* Acquisition is the act of getting something especially knowledge, skill, etc, by one�s own efforts, ability or behaviour.

* Learning is gaining knowledge or skill by studying, from being taught, one�s own experience, etc.

* Acquisition is the process by which a child acquires its mother tongue. It is an active process by which children, taking cues available to them, construct their own utterances and say things they have never heard of.

Language learning is a behaviour acquired by making conscious efforts. There are also many distinctions between the processes of acquisition and learning.

* Children within five years of age learn their mother tongue through acquisition. A second language is learnt through conscious effort of learning.

* Acquisition is an unconscious process where no formal classroom instruction is involved. Learning however is about conscious knowledge and the application of rules and structures.

* In language acquisition, the focus is on communication or reception of a message. But in language learning the thrust is on Syntax and grammar.

1.3.2 First Language Acquisition and Second Language Learning Process

There are two different approaches about the acquisition process of language. Linguists like Chomsky and his followers, assume that language is innate and children acquire only the Corpus of the language from the environment and not the structure. Psychologists assume that language is learnt like other behaviours.

Further, they claim that both the corpus and structure of language are acquired from environment. However, both the approaches accept the importance of the environment for acquiring a language.

First language acquisition occurs when the learner usually a child � has been without a language so far and now acquires one [Klein, 1986. 4]. Hence, the acquiring process of language takes place, subconsciously in a social environment in several stages. The studies (Droni, 1979; Ingram, 1989; Redford, 1990) reveal the stages of acquiring first language. These stages are prilinguistic stage, single word stage, early multiword stage, later multiword stage. In the later multiword stage, children produce unlimited number of sentences using their linguistic competence.

Where as �Second Language acquisition� (SLA) is used in the applied linguistic studies to refer to the internalization process of an L2 through exposure in a social environment where the real communication takes place. Further, Eliss (1986. 6) says that second language acquisition is the subconscious or conscious process by which a language, other than the mother tongue is learnt in a natural or a tutored setting. It covers the development of phonology, lexis, grammar and pragmatic knowledge.

As far as acquisition of first language is concerned, the child follows the sequence of linguistic skills i.e. L-S-R-W (Listening � Speaking � Reading � Writing). But while learning a second or foreign language the sequence of skills is changed. It becomes as L-R-W-S (Listening, Reading, Writing and Speaking). So learner of a foreign or second language faces many problems.

How has this problem of foreign or second language occurred? And why has it become acute in these days?

1.3.3 Second Language Acquisition

According to second language acquisition theory, language is acquired when we understand what is said or written, rather than how it is expressed. Language acquisition takes place when we focus on meaning and not on form (Stevick 1976). Learners succeed when they actively participate in their own learning.

Stevick further says that the learners may only succeed in formulating few language utterances when they are actively involved in interaction. Therefore, interaction plays a vital role in the second language acquisition process.

According to Krasheu (1984), comprehensible input is necessary for second language acquisition which, according to him, takes place in a low anxiety situation. In some cases input is provided and understood, but does not result in acquisition, as the learner suffers a mental block which prevents him or her from learning effectively. Keeping this in view, Krasheu has formulated the �affective filter hypotheses in relation to second language acquisition. His �Affective filter hypothesis� claims that, when the learner is not motivated, when he/she over anxious about his/her performance, then there is a mental block called the �affective filter�, this prevents the input from reaching those parts of the brain responsible for language acquisition, and as a result the second language acquired turns out to be minimal.

This theory implies that the second language, classes should be filled with comprehensible input presented in a low � anxiety situation. In order to facilitate second language acquisition, the classroom is considered a very good place for beginning second language, acquisition, as the learners acquire the language conditions which are conducive to learning through instruction. One of the main goals of teaching in the second language class room is thus to help the learners understand the language, and improve on their own. With the help of the knowledge of the new words and the clues provided to them through exposure to the second language.

The language classes, which expose the learners to comprehensible input, are considered to facilitate the second language acquisition. As the present study focuses on learning process of English at school, it is important to examine the language skills (LSRW) as a means of acquiring second language.

1. 4 Historical Background of Teaching English in India

Let us have a look at the historical background of teaching English in India.

Pre-Independence Era

When English was introduced in the country in the 19th century, the purpose was to create �a class of people, India in blood and colour, but English in opinion, in moral and in intellect.� The English educated� class of people were to act as mediators in administration. Thus English became the utility language.

After 1920 and right up to the dawn of independence many historical events took place in India. These events were National freedom movement, the round table conference, the economic dead lock, the Second World War, etc. These followed in quick succession. The overall effect of these events was that the government could not implement any changes regarding their policies of education and medium of instruction. However, English continued to dominate the curriculum of Indian schools, colleges and universities.

In this way, English became very important Language in Indian education system. It was associated with better education, culture and intellect. The British ruled over many parts of the world, hence, English spread in many countries. Naturally it acquired international status.

Post � Independence Era

Though the Post-independence India witnessed a great deal of anger against the English, the language has been retained as associate official language since 1950. But the people of India began to feel their problems in more realistic way. They began to think keenly about politics, economics and even about education. They wanted complete independence in all fields viz. political, cultural, economic and educational.

Pundit Nehru expressed his views in connection with the continuation of English. He said, �Indian languages have suffered psychologically and otherwise because of English, yet they have gained a great deal to form contacts with the wider world��..however, English cannot be in India, anything other than a second language in future.� (Gurav, 2002. 4)

�Of all the superstitions that India has, none is so great as that a knowledge of the English language is necessary for imbibing ideas of liberty and developing accuracy of thought.� [Gurav, 2002. 4]

Though the above expressions revealed that our national leaders, who were the product of English education, were supporters for English as a foreign or second language, English language has been in the position of controversy even after fifty years of the country�s independence. The challenge posed by English language in the multilingual society of India with 1652 mother tongues and 18 major languages included in the VIII schedule of Constitution, was the subject of examination by several commissions, Committees and Reports on the issue of language policy and medium of instruction.

However, English continued to occupy an important place in Indian education system.

After independence various commissions and study groups have given their views about the study of English language in India:

* The Radhakrishna Commission (1948) emphasized the need for the continuance of the study of English.

* The University Education Commission (1949) focused on,� English will continue to occupy an important place in India�s academic and intellectual life. English should be studied in High schools and in universities in order that we might keep ourselves in touch with the living stream of ever-growing knowledge.� [Purkait, 1987. 320 -21]

* Kothari Commission (1964) highlighted the role of English as a �Library language.� (Gurav, 2002. 7)

* The report of the National Commission on Education (1964), Ministry of Education, Government of India, has insisted on the study of English for practical purposes. (Yardi, 1987. 34)

* Prof. Gokak said that the study of English should be continued. (Yardi, 1987.29)

From the above mentioned views, it is clear that English language has occupied a place of prestige and significance in our country.

1.4. 1 The Importance of English Education in India

India is a unique geographical territory where diversity in diversity is seen. The diversity is not only seen in geography but also in culture, tradition, customs and languages. According to the 1961 census, India has 1652 tongues and of which 320 are major languages. The survey itself clearly tells that India is a multilingual language. In spite of these diversities, India adopted English and has given it a remarkable place in the history of Indian education.

The history of ELT in India is vast, rich and eventful; a vast amount of writing in English is available in India, English occupies unique position because it is used by large number of people. It played an important role for the growth of nationalism at the time of freedom struggle, accelerated the process of modernization, and helped to overcome the age old and evil practices. English is one of the languages in various fields, namely business, politics and education. Because of its richness, flexibility, elegance, and dignity in nature, English has been enjoying a privilege status in India since British rule. The East India Company succeeded in establishing its overwhelming empire in India by the end of eighteenth century. The British parliament renewed its charter not only for trading but also for ruling. The Charter Act of 1813 provided an annual sum not less than one-lakh rupees for the promotion of learning among Indians.

The main objectives of Lord Macaulay�s famous �Minutes of 1835� teaching English in those days are, �revival and improvement of literature� and the �promotion of the knowledge of the science�. Naik (1982) said, �in any case the Indians were forced to learn English to meet the immediate compulsion of communication between the rulers and the native habitants�.

Not surprisingly, Lord Macaulay is called the Father of English language education in India. In his letter to his father states, �We must at present do our best to form a class who may be interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern, a class of persons, Indians in blood and colour, but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and in intellect�. George Braine 1961:61)

The education policy of Lord Macaulay was endorsed by the then Viceroy, William Bentinck, but followed by his successors too. Method of teaching English, better known as �king�s Language�, to bring English culture through language and literature was taught and it acted as the culture carrier. It was found the Grammar-Translation Method (GMT) was very effective to teach Indian masses. The Sahib variety, Babu English and Butler English were some of the varieties in English that emerged. There was a prolonged controversy over the medium of instruction and East India Company decided that English was the only possible language for education in European literature, philosophy and science. Wood�s famous Despatch of 1934 expressed the view that English and the modern languages together would become the media of dissemination of European knowledge.

1.4.2 Teaching English at the Academic level

There was drastic change in the teaching of English at the academic level and these are divided into four phases.

Phase - I

The Phase I covers more than fifty years (1835-1856). In this phase the teaching of English included the teaching of pronunciation, vocabulary, reading, writing, grammar and composition, and translation was taught as separate skill. The main objective of teaching was to develop the ability to read with comprehension, write grammatically correct English and speak intelligibly. There was no separate place for teaching prose, poetry, and composition in the school curriculum of English education.

Phase - II

In Phase-II (1857-1882) the teaching of English had begun in the third year of schooling in all the English schools with lot many changes. The directions to the teachers and students, rote memory was encouraged, teachers were permitted to use vernacular occasionally, teaching rules of grammar, training in speech and functioned based dialogues on real life situations were some of them.


The third Phase (1883-1935) is a very crucial phase where many innovative methods were introduced and for the first time textbook was published with the approval of government in the Fort George Gazette in 1903. The teaching of conversation marked the importance of speech in the language learning. In 1980, the popular concept, �language through literature�, was tried for the first time in Madras Presidency College. Grammar Translation Method was in practice and did not consider the four skills and ignored the fluency in speech and phonetics. The Direct Method was introduced in India in 1904 by the then Director of Public Instruction, East Bengal and Assam, and it greatly influenced the English Language Teaching in India and in turn recommended in English as the medium of instruction in the secondary schools. Fluency in speech along with reading, pronunciation, vocabulary was encouraged. But Michael West pointed that Direct Method was not suitable for Indian students and emphasized on the importance of reading and speaking and writing was given a secondary place.

Phase - IV

In the fourth Phase (1835-1947) Harold E. Palmer�s ideas were introduced and believed that a scientific study of a language should integrate linguistics, pedagogy and psychology. He introduced the order of four language skills- Listening, Speaking, Reading and Writing.

Three Language Formula

Three language formula should be Hindi, English and a modern Indian language (preferably one of the southern Indian languages); and (b) in non-Hindi speaking areas, Hindi, English and regional language. There were many fluctuations and controversies regarding the place of English and medium of instruction in Indian education system. The Three �language formula was enunciated the National Policy Resolution of 1968. The following gives the detail of that.

(1) Hindi speaking areas

(a) Hindi (with Sanskrit as a part of a composite course)

(b) Urban or any other modern Indian language excluding

(c) English or any other modern European language

(2) Non-Hindi speaking states

(a) Regional language;

(b) Hindi;

(c) Urdu or any other modern Indian language excluding (a) and (b); and

(d) English or any other modern European language (Verandra Kumar, 2001)

The government of India accepted the recommendations of Ramakrishna Commission and it was decided that the federal languages be developed through assimilation. English be replaced by an Indian language, gradually, the three language formula- the regional, the federal and English be adopted, and English may be studied in high schools and in universities. Even while framing the Indian constitution, various articles were placed in it keeping in mind the importance of English language. The Article 345, 346 and 347 deals with the subject of English language. The article 343 of the Indian constitution assigned Hindi the status of official language of India while English was retained as the associate official language for as long as it was deemed necessary.

Some of the states did not agree to accept the Three Language Formula and Tamil Nadu vehemently opposed to this. There were many committees and commissions set to formulate this formula.

1.4.3 English Language Teaching in Different States

English has become a language of globe. The proficiency in it is synonymous with success in life. The teachers of English across the country in private and government institutions have to meet the requirement of the business demand and teach students so that they could benefit after the schooling and college life. It is indispensable for all the states to teach and learn English. Otherwise, it is difficult to keep pace with the development in the world. In particular, it is very essential for a multilingual and developing country. It is already mentioned that India is multilingual and language of the majority plays a dominant role. Geographically, India has four regions i.e. East, West, North and South and is divided into 28 states and there is possibility for forming few more new states.

1.4.4 English Language Teaching in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh is one of the states in India which was formed on linguistic basis. Though Telugu is state�s official language, Urdu (Deccan Urdu), Hindi, Marathi, Kannada, Tamil and many other languages are spoken here. Now, with the advent of technology and globalization, the state has become a hub for multinational companies, corporate setups, education and business. People come here not only from other states but also from other countries for various purposes like pursuing education, business, tour, etc., and it has become a land of opportunities. With all these changes, this state has become a multilingual state. Though Telugu is the official language of the state, all the official orders are issued in English. Correspondence between ministers/departments of the government and the lower hierarchy is usually done in English. English is used for acquisition of information. Newspapers, magazines, journals, etc. are used for this purpose. Thus the state has the newspapers �The Hindu, New Indian Express, Deccan Chronicle, The Times of India, The Hans India, etc.� English newspapers are the second largest selling papers in the state.

Education in the state is mostly spread through Telugu and English media. However, English is a compulsory subject at school and college levels. In most of the private educational institutions, English is the medium of instruction. University education is usually offered in English medium. Globalization and information technology have contributed to the awareness of the importance of the English language among the students.

The state government issued an order (G.O.76) to introduce Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) syllabus for higher classes from 2008-09 academic year. English replaced Telugu as the medium of instruction and the state syllabus in 6,500 governments run high schools in Andhra Pradesh from 2008-09 academic years. The government said that the move would not only strengthen school education but also improve the English language abilities of rural students and prepare them to avail opportunities in information technology and knowledge based industries. The Educational department has issued an order implementing these changes from class VI in 6,500 select schools convey over 2, 50,000 students.

In the educational system of Andhra Pradesh, English is given importance. English is introduced in class II in the years 2011-2012 and in class I from 2012-13 academic years. At High School level in English medium and non-English medium schools, English is the third language while Telugu is the first and Hindi the second language. At Intermediate and Graduate level, it is one of the two languages in Part-I (Languages) and, at the Post-Graduation level; English is the language of Higher education.

Andhra Pradesh has been implementing the Three Language Formula. English is taught alongside Telugu-the regional language and Hindi-the official language. If it is an English medium school, the students are taught the subjects (mathematics, science, social studies and other subjects depending upon the institution) in English, and if it is Telugu medium school all the subjects are taught in Telugu and English and Hindi as second language and third language. Across the country, the four language skills are taught and some training to read and write but when it comes to listening and speaking, it is completely undervalued and neglected. The syllabus and the examination system itself clearly show that learners are emphasized on rote learning and the ability to produce the long essays as answers to the questions asked in the exams. There is no place to the language skills especially listening and speaking to be tested or examined. Still the old and outdated teaching practices and teacher-centeredness in the Indian classrooms has been giving any scope for the learners to interact and participate in the language classrooms. Naturally, therefore, the language skills remain most neglected ones in the second language classroom.

1.5 History of Municipal Administrative in India

In India a Municipal Corporation is a local body that administers a city with a population of 200,000 or more. Under the Panchayati raj system, it interacts directly with the state government though it is administratively part of the district in which it is located.

The First Municipal Corporation in modern India was set up in the former presidency town of Madras in 1868. It was followed by Municipal Corporations of Calcutta in 1876 and Bombay in 1888. Lord Ripon (1880-84), the viceroy of India introduced an element of elections in the municipal Corporation. The reforms introduced by Lord Ripon continue to have its traces in the existing local self governments.

1.5.1 Functioning of Municipal Schools in A.P.

Education in the AP Municipality Act, 1965 under section 130 read with Rule 42 of taxation and Finance rules appended to the APM ACL 1965, municipality can incur expenditure connected with education on the following items:

Establishment and maintenance of Schools;

Construction and maintenance of school buildings; and

Training of teachers.

Further, Section 31 A mentions that municipalities �would appoint committees to formulation of reviews and general superintendence of development programmes relating to education and welfare of the SCs, STs and BCs and women and children� among others.

Education is not mentioned explicitly as an area of core concern for municipalities in Andhra Pradesh and therefore it is a grey area. It is taking cue from Section 31A above that the role of municipalities in �managing� education is restricted. The administrative function of appointing Headmasters and teachers in the Municipal Schools, managing and disbursing their salaries, promoting and transferring the staff and maintaining the upkeep of the municipal schools under their management is what all municipal authorities have been doing so far. Most of the academic functions rest with the education department.

In AP, municipal schools exist in only 13 districts of the 23 districts in the state. Nearly 2100 municipal schools are functioning in the state. About 1400 primary schools, 400 upper primary schools and 300 secondary schools are functioning in the state. Over 3.5 lakh children are enrolled in these schools and 8100 teachers are working in the municipal schools with Teacher-Pupil ratio of 1:45, 1:49 and 1:40 in primary, upper primary and secondary schools respectively.

1.5.2 Municipal schools in Vijayawada, Krishna District, A. P.

Vijayawada, also called �Vidyala wada� (Place of Education), occupies a large amount of the educational infrastructure of Andhra Pradesh. The city was named �The Educational Sahara� by a foreign ambassador.

Education in the city is implemented by both the government and the private institutions. Vijayawada Municipal Corporation VMC) takes care of the government educational institutions.

Following are the statistics of Municipal Schools:

High schools: 28 (including 1 Urdu Medium, 2 Schools both English and Telugu Medium and 1 Tamil Medium)

Upper Primary Schools: 15 (including 3 Urdu Medium)

Elementary Schools: 65+10=75(10 Urdu Medium, 2 English Media)

Students: 28,450 (as on 30.06.2011)

Teachers: 622

Municipalities responsible for opening / up gradation of schools in the urban areas are under Municipal Corporation. A municipality is a unit for all purposes. All teachers in a municipality are under one unit for purposes promotion or reversion etc. Panel committee in the municipality has the authority for promotion of teachers. Teachers are transferred from one school to another in the same municipality. Municipal authorities inspect the school. Salaries of teaching and non � teaching staff are paid by the government. But it is reduced to the extent of education tax collected by the municipality.

The trends in enrolment show a clear shift to private schools in urban areas like Vijayawada. Poor infrastructure, lack of sanitation facilities, lack of subject / lack of adequate teachers, teacher absenteeism, are some of the factors leading to poor performance of students resulting in low demand for these schools.


Class rooms: Inadequacy of rooms to accommodate is a problem in municipal high schools. Problems exist with regard to ventilation and sufficient space for all the children in all the class rooms.

Headmaster�s office and staff room: In the urban municipal schools in Vijayawada there is one room that is used as the Head Master�s room as well as the office with the files stacked behind. There is no adequate place to store and exhibit the various shields, trophies and mementos won by the school and its teams.

Laboratories: There is no exclusive space for a laboratory in any of the schools visited. There are a small number of demonstrable aids and equipment in high schools, but the same are stacked in cupboards inside classrooms. In the case of an upgraded school, laboratory equipment is being borrowed from a neighbouring school and the same is returned after demonstration in the class.

Library: Libraries ideally provide access to books in addition to the classroom texts and create a link with the developments taking place outside. Storage of books in the best of municipal schools is found not satisfactory. Books are not made accessible to the students for whom they are meant to be additional reading material.

Common rooms for girls: The Government of India has embarked on a mission to retain girls in schools through the National Programme Education for Girls at Elementary Level (NPEGEL). Urban slums in Municipalities and Corporations of the four districts including Krishna district was covered under the programme. It was seen that such room existed in one high school, but was not being utilized for the purpose. The newly constructed rooms were being used as staff rooms for female teachers.

Drinking water and Toilets: Drinking water for children has not been uniformly provided in all municipal schools. Sanitation facilities or toilets in schools are shared by the students and the teachers. This is a cause for concern as drop out among girls is normally attributed to poor sanitation conditions in schools.

Playgrounds: Due the scarcity of space in urban areas, it is hard to find municipal schools with adequate space for play ground for the students.

Furniture for Staff and Students: Municipal schools have been lacking in furniture for its students. There are hardly any municipal schools, at all levels, which have been benches for all the children. This could possibly be one of the reasons for the parents in shifting their children to private schools.

Performance: Looking at the results achieved by municipal schools over the years, it is found that the pass percentage has been a mixed bag of success and failures. Some of the students of VMC have excelled academically despite adversities.

The performance of Municipal School students in SSC Board exams over the last three years is consistently on an average 60%.

Performance of Municipal School Students in SSC Exams


As is seen from the table above the performance of municipal schools is around 60% while the overall performance in all schools is consistently around 74%. Inspite of these results which indicate quantitatively good performance, their performance in English language appears to be qualitatively poor.

As per the recent G.O. Ms No: 76 (2008), English medium has been introduced at all levels in municipal schools. However, the system is not adequately equipped to handle children who wish to enroll in English medium schools. A five day training programme on Communicative English has been organized by the Education Department to all the teachers to enhance their knowledge and skill. But this does not seem to fully equip them to handle the classes.

1.6 The Problems of Teaching / Learning English

The way English is taught in schools, especially in municipal and government schools today is to a great extent responsible for the lowering of the standard of English in India. The aim of English language education and teaching is certainly very lofty and the means are inadequate to realize them. The following are some of the problems faced by the teachers of English in Municipal schools:

Dearth of Competent teachers

The teachers of English at municipal schools do not keep themselves abreast with the recent developments in the field of linguistics and theories of learning and teaching, without which they cannot teach their students effectively. Though the education officials conduct training programme once a year, the teachers give least importance to equip themselves with the latest methods of teaching English. So, the problem of dearth of competent teachers arises due to the lack of teachers who are specialized in the method of teaching English.

Wrong method of teaching

The methods and techniques used by teachers are faulty and outdated. Most of the teachers in the schools use the Grammar Translation Method and they are very much comfortable using it and they ignore the other methods of teaching.

Constraint of time

The teachers focus on syllabus completion. They do not have sufficient time to do other activities like role play, play-way, dramatization etc in the class. The teachers do not find time to carry out the interaction with the students in English.

Crowded Classes

The size of the classes everywhere is considerably large and thus, students� participation in the class work is quite impossible. The ratio of students in relation to teacher is not proportional. This is one of the reasons why the teachers are unable to pay individual attention to the students.

Lack of Creativity

Most of the students prefer to use the age old readymade notes either distributed by the teacher or available in the market. Students are generally to a great extent handicapped in the power of self-expression. Hence, the students are not taught to use their potential creatively.

Teacher�s and Student�s Regional Dialect affecting proper pronunciation

This is a very crucial problem with most of the teachers teaching English. When the teachers try to speak English, they carry their own regional dialect into English. They have difficulty in pronunciation and are not cautious about the stress and intonation of their own speech. They teach incorrect phonetic transcriptions, pronunciation, stress and intonation to the students.

A large number of teachers teaching at school level are incompetent. They have little idea of correct usage and none at all of correct pronunciation. Their vocabulary is as limited as their reading. They are not conversant with the use of modern teaching techniques.

Though the text books prescribe for different classes are skill-oriented, teachers are not adequate enough to teach them.

The frequent changes made in the policy regarding English by the state and central government has also proved to be greatly detrimental to the teachers and learners of the language.

Teaching Aids

Class room teaching aids and materials are generally in short supply in schools, not to talk of audio-visual aids like tape recorders, lingua phone programmes of film strips. In some cases even pieces of chalk and black board are difficult to obtain.


It is a pity that most of the examinations are in content oriented rather than skill-oriented. If at all any skill is required to be displayed by the examiners, it is their writing ability. Though reading, listening and speaking skills are given in the text books, they are neglected totally in the examinations.

With the establishment of bodies like National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), National syllabus has gained popularity and being increasingly adopted by more and more states. Many of these syllabi provide enough scope for the development of the learner�s abilities. However, the unfamiliarity of the English teacher with both the aims and objectives of these syllabi and their use almost always succeeds in defeating the very purposes for which they were initially framed.

Teacher�s education is one major area which needs drastic changes if quality teachers are to become available to develop the English language skills of the student.

1.6.1 The Factors that Influence the Acquisition of a Second Language

Several factors influence the Second language (L2) learners who are able to perceive and produce the L2 accurately especially the students who are first generation learners, studying in Municipal and government schools.

Some language learners are successful by virtue of their sheer determination, hard work and persistence. However, there are other crucial factors influencing success that are largely beyond the control of the learner. These factors can be categorized as internal and external.

Internal Factors

Internal factors are those that the individual language learner brings with him / her to the particular learning situation.

Age: Second language acquisition is influenced by the age of the learner.

Personality: Introverted or anxious learners usually make slower progress, particularly in the development of oral skills. They are less likely to take advantage of opportunities to speak, or to seek out such opportunities.

Experiences: Learners who have acquired general knowledge and experience are in a strong position to develop a new language than those who have not.

Cognition: In, general, the students with greater cognitive abilities make faster progress. Some linguistics believes that there is a specific, innate language learning ability that is stronger in some students than in others.

External Factors

Culture and Status: There is some evidence that the students in situations where their own culture has a lower status than that of the culture in which they are learning the language make slower progress.

Motivation: The students who are given continuing, appropriate encouragement to learn by their teachers and parents will fare better than the students from families that place little importance on language learning are likely to progress less quickly.

Psychological Factors

Many linguist and educationists investigated the factors related to the English speaking, such as social factors, teacher�s influences, learners� strategies. These researches found out that the teaching methods and techniques to a larger extent, failed to produce effective English speaking.

According to the studies, the factors which affect English language learning are motivation, anxiety, extroversion, self-esteem and self-concept.

Socio-Psychological Factors

Socio-Psychological problems influence the teaching/learning of English in their own respective way.

Lack of Motivation

Motivation is a crucial factor and is known as a complex phenomenon which includes many components, such as the individuals drive, need for achievement and success, curiosity, desire for stimulation, new experience in learning a second or foreign language, etc.

Lack of communication Need

The extent of the communication need depends upon the nature of the social community in which the person lives.

Several factors such as the learners� age at the time of L2 acquisition, amount of daily use of the L2, capacity of the learners, working conditions, the influence of working memory on L2, pronunciation, and the ability to imitate, play a role accurately in L2 and its perception and production.

1.7 Teaching English as a Second language in the schools

In the state board schools, English has been introduced as one of the language subjects from the third standard along with other subjects, and it is the medium of instruction in certain schools of the state board.

Further, the high school English syllabus includes the prose, poetry, grammar exercises, listening and reading comprehensions, speech practice and communication and other tasks.

The teaching of English as a Second language at school level aims at helping:

* the learners enjoy the learning of English.

* them listen to English spoken by their teachers and classmates, and understand it,

* them speak English with their teachers and classmates,

* them to read and understand the given reading materials,

* them write simple but appropriate English,

* them learn elements of language, such as sounds, words, spellings, phrases, sentences and their structuring and

* train them read, recite, understand and enjoy simple poems in English and

The above objectives reveal that the English syllabus aims at developing the language skills, learn the target language and use it correctly.

1.7.1 Language Skills

Learning a language comprises four skills. They are listening, speaking, reading and writing (LSRW). The former two skills are known as oracy and the latter two are known as literacy; both oracy and literacy form linguacy. Among these four skills, listening and reading are used as the channels of receiving information which are called receptive skills. The remaining two skills, speaking and writing are used as channels of sending information and they are labeled as productive skills.

All these four skills of language are the bases for communication. Hence, they form the base for the language proficiency �the ability to use knowledge in different tasks.�

1.8 Need of the Study

As the research scholar is a lecturer in English in one of the colleges in Vijayawada, Krishna District, A.P, she realized that the students coming from municipal and government schools for intermediate hardly know few words in English after studying English as a subject for about six periods per week for eight years. She has visited these schools a number of times and observed some of the English classes and realized that the teaching of English in these schools is in chaotic state today.

The researcher has discussed the difficulties faced by the teachers related to English language teaching and understood the main problems of communicative language teaching.

Though the high school English syllabus includes the prose, poetry, grammar and all the four language skills (LSRW), the learners are not taught in a systematic way as the teachers are in a hurry to complete the syllabus and also got used to the grammar translation method.

There are different reasons for the problems faced by the teachers. They are as follows:

* Inadequate training

* A sudden change in the teaching method and approach.

* Teachers- habituated to teach English in a traditional way by using structural approach.

* Problems in pre-service training.

* Problems in in-service training.

* Lack of innovative and broad outlook towards English language teaching.

* Vast syllabus. Focus is on completion of the syllabus rather than language teaching.

Considering all these problems the researcher felt the need to study the problems of both the students and the teachers with the aim of conducting an in-service training programme. The investigator feels that there is a gap between the textbooks and the actual class teaching.

Hence, the researcher had the following questions in her mind before starting the present research work.

(i) Regarding Teachers

1. Do the schools (Municipal Corporation Schools) have trained teachers for teaching English?

2. Do they know proper class room techniques to implement the latest methods to teach English effectively?

3. Do the teachers get adequate pre-service training and regular in-service training?

4. Do the schools have proper facilities for English language teaching?

5. What type of teaching aids do the schools provide to the teachers?

6. Do the teachers use realia for class room teaching?

7. Do the schools provide them with library facility to get reference materials to teach English?

8. What could be the other problems faced by the teachers while teaching English?

9. What efforts should be taken to improve teachers� confidence and ability to teach English in an effective way?

(ii) Regarding the learners

1. Why are they not able to comprehend the English language?

2. What problems do they face in learning the language?

3. Does the mother tongue of the students interfere in learning English language?

4. Do the family background and the surroundings become a barrier to learn English effectively?

Considering the above questions in her mind, the investigator started her work.

Language acquisition is a process by which humans acquire the capacity to perceive and comprehend language, as well as to produce and use words to communicate. Hence, the main objective of teaching and learning the language is to prepare the students to communicate properly in society. It is found that the students are scoring good marks in English but they are unable to comprehend the English language. Hence, it is the most acute problem. Therefore the investigator has selected this problem for the study.

1.9 Significance of the Study

The present research is significant from the following points of view:

* This research is helpful to locate the difficulties faced by the students in learning English language.

* It is helpful for defining the difficulties faced by the teachers in teaching English

* It is useful for the teachers to overcome the problems faced by them while teaching English.

* It is of help to know the problems of the teachers and to arrange in-service training programme for the English teachers.

* The study is helpful to make suggestions and propose remedies to the students.

* The study is significant through the point of view that, even if the text books are changed periodically, the teachers should be able to teach English effectively.

1.10 Statement of the Topic of the Study

Learning Process of English at School Level: A Case Study of Municipal Schools of Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh

1.10.1 Explanation of the Problem

The researcher has studied the problems faced by the learners in learning English language and the teachers teaching English.

Teachers of English face the problems regarding clarification of concepts of teaching English using latest methods, text books, class room situations, teaching aids, students participation in communicative activities and class control.

Students of English face the problems regarding mother tongue influence, family background, linguistic gap and active participation in the class.

These problems were studied in this research work.

1.11 Objectives of the Research

The following objectives were framed for the present research.

i. To evaluate the listening ability of the students and identify their recognizing ability of sounds, vocabulary, grammar and information in the process of comprehension.

ii. To identify the communication strategies adopted by the L2 learners wherever they find linguistic gap in the process of learning the oral communication and to evaluate their speaking skills.

iii. To evaluate the reading ability and to identify the students understanding capacity of the vocabulary and discourse in the process of reading comprehension.

iv. To identify the problems encountered by the students in the process of learning the writing skills and also identify the L1 interference on L2 writings of the students.

v. To suggest remedial measures to improve all the four skills of English.

vi. To identify the problems faced by the English language teachers and

vii. To conduct a training programme for the in-service teachers and propose remedial measures to help them raise the standards of English at school level.

1.12 Assumptions

With her experience of teaching English in the college to the students including those coming from municipal schools and observations of English classes in VMC schools, the researcher has made the following assumptions:

i. Most of the teachers teaching English at VMC schools are not using communicative approach to teach their classes.

ii. Text book bureau of Andhra Pradesh has prepared text books of English well comprising all the four skills (LSRW), elements of language such as sounds, words, spellings, phrases, sentences and their structuring.

iii. Inspite of being well qualified teachers, they are unable to teach English effectively.

iv. The teachers are not given proper in-service training for teaching English.

v. Teaching aids which are required to teach English are not available in these schools.

vi. The teachers are not updating themselves with latest methods of teaching English.

vii. The teachers are not referring hand books and curriculum book prepared by the text book bureau.


After identifying the problems faced by the learners in learning English and the teachers who find it difficult to teach English due to various reasons, a well designed in-service training programme arranged to teach English makes a significant difference in teacher�s performance and student�s achievement of learning English.

The Scope of the Research

The scope of the research was limited to the Municipal schools of Vijayawada, Krishna District, A.P only

The scope of the present study was related to the upper primary and High school level, Telugu Medium schools only.

The research work was related to the teachers of English in Municipal schools of Vijayawada only.

Limitations of the Research

The study was related to the upper primary and high schools of Municipal Corporation of Vijayawada, Krishna District, A. P.

The study was limited to the data collected in the period from 2009-2011.

The present study was not the study of the text books but the approvals of the students and the teachers on the basis of which the text books are prepared.

Design of the Research Report

The design of the Research report is as follows:

The very first Chapter entitled as �The Background Study� includes the background of English Language, education information of Municipal Schools of Vijayawada, Krishna District, A.P., need of the study, significance of the study, statement of the research, objectives, assumptions and hypothesis of the research, scope and limitations of the study and the design of the present research report.

Chapter-II presents the nature of language, second language acquisition/learning theories, methods of teaching as a second language, English language skills, the review of the related literature on professional development, in-service training programme, and the research studies in the field of English language teaching/learning conducted abroad and in India.

Chapter III will describe the methods and procedures of the dissertation study. It will include research design, the methodology employed for the teachers, procedure used for the research, the sampling design, participants, data collection and in-service training programme, its benefits, communicative language approach, analysis techniques, and procedure of the pre-test for the learners used by the researcher.

Chapter-IV entitled as Data Collection and Analysis is concerned with the data analysis of the teachers� questionnaire, implications of training programme, empowering the teachers through professional development and the analysis of the students� pre-test questionnaire.

Chapter-V contains the summary, conclusion and recommendations of the study. The study concludes with a bibliography and appendices. Bibliography is given as per MLA hand book, seventh edition.


This chapter has dealt with the background, information of Municipal schools of Vijayawada, need, significance, objectives, hypothesis and assumptions and design of the research report have been given in this chapter.