The Language As A System Of Communication English Language Essay

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This chapter enters into the basic important aspects of the research report. The chapter 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 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 a 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 pervasion, storage and improvement.

1.2. 1 Definitions of Language

Language has been defined in different ways by the 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 duality 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

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 offers a wide field of uniqueness and variety. This property is helpful to the language user who enjoys and 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' which is common in acquisition/learning studies 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.

It is the process by which a child acquires its mother tongue.

Acquisition 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.

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.

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 look and the Second World War. These were 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 pervaded in many countries. Naturally it got international status.

Post - Independence Era

Though the Post-independence India witnessed a great deal of anger against 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 every field i.e. political, cultural, economic and educational fields.

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 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 e.g.

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 in our country.

1.4. 1 Importance of English

Language plays a vital role in a society because it is not only a mode of communication but also a way of life. It carries historical, cultural, religious as well as ethnic markers of people. It is like a raw material to have fine product of education. Hence the English language has got the significant importance in today's education system.

English is widely used as an international language throughout the world. It is one of the official languages, even in most of the countries of the world. It is spoken by more than 340 million people as a first language in United Kingdom and the United States. It is also used for international communication.

Randolph Quick point out that, "There are now something like 250 million people for whom English is the mother tongue or first language and this of course means for the most part, their only language. If we add to this the number of people who have a working knowledge of English as a second or foreign language (many Indians, Africans, Frenchmen and Russians and so on), we raise the total to about 350 million." (Quirk, 1972. 8)

It is important as a library language which plays a vital role in higher education. It is a language of trade and commerce, science and advanced technology, medicine and computer. Importance of English language is due to its international use. In Pandit Nehru's words it is a "Window to the world'. (Gurav, 2003.7) English has proved itself, as a torch - bearing to the nations of the world.

English has become important language for national and international communication. It is the only language which is widely known as a link language. Hence, English is treated as a language of a global village. It is an important language for social cohesion.

F. G French has rightly pointed out the importance of English. He says, "Because of rapid spread of industrial development, science and technology, international trade and commerce and the close interdependence of nations; English has become a world language." (Gurav, 2002.8)

Due to such importance it seems that English communication is the most effective way to open various doors of opportunities in various fields.

Let's see what place the English language has in the school curriculum.

1.4. 2 Place of English in India

The English language became popular, because it opened paths to education, employment and influence. The English education system was started in 1835 by the British. At that time English played an important role in school curriculum. It was taught as a compulsory subject.

By the time India became independent, English had already consolidated its position in the school and university education. The language acts of 1963 and 1967 reinforced the position of English in India. The language has blended itself with the cultural and social life of the country. Its importance as a national and international link language as a language of trade, as a library language and an official language of administration is fully accepted in India.

However, the National Policy of Education [NPE] of 1968 reiterates recommendations to adopt regional languages as medium of instruction at the university level and efforts to implement the three language formula. Inspite of strong recommendations of NPE (1968), the university education has been continued through English and the noticeable fact is that English is preferred by many learners and the parents. This is because of the better chances the learners would have to qualify with a reasonable command over the English language.

Kothari Commission (1964 - 66) has suggested the there language formula in which English has been placed as a second or third language. The three language formula is as follows:

Regional Medium Schools

English Medium Schools

L1

Telugu (Mother tongue)

English (International language)

L2

Hindi (National language)

Hindi (National language)

L3

English (International language and 2nd language

Mother tongue

(Telugu as Mother tongue in Andhra Pradesh)

English as a second language

English has been used as a second language in India not a foreign language. It has been used as an official language, a medium for higher education, the national and international link language, interpersonal and inter institutional communication, a language of business, a language of competitive examinations and a language of professionals.

English became the 'neutral' language for wider communication and the language of technology, modernity and development. After Hindi it is the most commonly spoken language in India and probably the most read and written language in India.

1.4.3 English Language Teaching in Andhra Pradesh

The syllabi of the state analyzed gives the picture of how language learning is understood; the basic conditions for learning a language as a second or foreign language aimed at and the essential of a good language learning, teaching in a situation like the rural Indian settings. The essentials may be listed as

(i) Proficient language teacher (ii) amount of exposure of students to the language (iii) motivation of children (iv) materials that would provide opportunities for the learner and teacher to act and react and move beyond the texts.

But the syllabus of Andhra Pradesh does not make an attempt to understand what is language learning i.e. assumptions about language learning. The syllabus reflects:

 Attainment of basic proficiency, and

 The development of language is as an instrument for basic interpersonal communication and later for abstract thought.

It does not talk about the learner, nature of learning, language and learning. The place and status of English language is touched formally. The syllabus draws learning upon NCF-2005.

Objectives attempt to bring in many things at the same time. Though the syllabus advocates multiple methods of teaching learning the language, it appears that it relies heavily on good old structural approach in the primary classes. The number of structures to be taught / learned is listed in the detailed syllabus.

As the research is based on the municipal schools, let us see the background of municipal schools of Vijayawada, A.P.

1.5 History of Municipal Administrative in India

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

The First Municipal Corporation in modern India was set up in the former presidency town of Madras in 1688. It was followed by Municipal Corporation of Calcutta in 1876 and Bombay in 1888. Lord Ripon (1880-84), the viceroy of India introduced and 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.

Education is not mentioned explicitly as an area of core concern for municipalities in Andhra Pradesh and there fore it is a grey area. It is taking care 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 TP ratio of 45, 49 and 40 is 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 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 are 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 / adequate teachers, teacher absenteeism, are some of the factors leading to poor performance of students resulting in low demand for these schools.

Infrastructure

Class rooms: Adequacy 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 a double for the HM's room as well as the office with the files stacked behind. There is no place to store and exhibit the various shields, trophies and mementos won by the school and its teams adequately.

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 displaying them in the class.

Library: Libraries ideally provide access to books that are beyond 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 to be satisfactory. Books are not 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 new constructed rooms were being used as staff rooms for female teachers.

Drinking water and Toilets: Drinking water for children has not been uniformly attended to 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: In the space scarce areas of urban locations, it is hard to find municipal schools with adequate play space 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 the reason for shifting of parents in moving 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 in academic despite adversities.

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

Performance of Municipal School Students in SSC Exams

Year

Municipal Schools

All Schools

No. Appeared

No. Passed

Pass%

No. Appeared

No. Passed

Pass%

2008 - 09

21899

13084

59.75

799324

585781

73.28

2009 - 10

23140

13385

57.84

880252

643974

73.16

2010 - 11

22959

14607

63.62

956887

722137

75.47

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 70%. The Comparative poor performance is a cause for worry as municipal school standards are gearing up to competitive market standards.

As per the recent GO 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 English medium schools. A five day training programme on Communicative English has been given by the Education department to all the teachers to teach in English which is not adequate 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 deteriorization of the standard of English in India. The aim of English language education and teaching are certainly very lofty and these are inadequate means to realize them. The following are some of the problems faced by the teachers of English in Municipal and government schools:

Dearth of Competent teachers

The teachers of English at municipal and government 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 some training programme once a year, the teachers give least importance to equip themselves with 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 teacher are faulty and out of date. 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.

Shortage of time

The teachers rush for 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 quiet impossible. The ratio of students in relation to teacher is not proportional. This is one of the reasons why individual attention is not possible to the students.

Lack of Creativity

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

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

This is 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.

Examinations

It is pity that most of the examinations 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 in 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 the faster progress. Some linguistics believe 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 the crucial force 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 and new experience in learning a second or foreign language.

Lack of communication Need

The extent of the communicative 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 in accurate L2 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 (as the preface of the high school text reveals).

To help the learners enjoy the learning of English.

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

To help them speak English with their teachers and classmates,

To train them to read and understand the given reading materials,

To help them write simple but appropriate English,

To help them read, recite understand and enjoy simple poems in English and

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

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

Language Skills

Learning a language comprises of four skills. They are listening, speaking, reading and writing (LSRW). The former two skills are known as oracy and the later 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 the knowledge in different tasks.'

Need of The Study

As the research scholar is a lecturer in English in one of the colleges in Vijayawada, Krishna District, A.P 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 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 realized 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 of 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 has found it necessary 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 objective questions in her mind before starting the present research work.

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

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

Do the teachers get adequate and frequent in-service training as well as proper pre-service training?

Do the schools have proper facilities for English language teaching?

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

Do the teachers use realia for class room teaching?

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

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

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

Regarding the learners

Why are they not able to comprehend the English language?

What are the problems do they face in learning the language?

Does the mother tongue interfere in learning English language?

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

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

Language acquisition is the 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 helpful 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 face by the teachers to teach English

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

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

The study is helpful to make some suggestions/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.

Statement of Research

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

Explanation of the Problem

The researcher has studied the problems faced by the learner 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 are studied in this research work.

Objectives of the Research

The following objectives were framed for the present research.

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

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.

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

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.

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

To identify the problems faced by the English language teachers and

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

Assumptions

With the experience of teaching and observations in their field the researcher has made the following assumptions:-

Most of the teachers teaching English at Municipal Corporation Schools of Vijayawada, A.P are not using communicative approach to teach their classes.

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.

Some of the teachers teaching English in these schools are well qualified.

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

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

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

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

Hypothesis

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 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 2008-2011.

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 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.

Summary

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.

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