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English v/s Vernacular Medium of Education

Posted Dec 05 2009 8:09pm
"English No.2 medium of teaching in schools" - Headline on the Ahmedabad Edition of Sunday Times, Dec 6 2009.

This article talks about how english has become the second most common medium of instruction in schools.

Vaidehi Ramanathan, a researcher from UK has done seven years of extensive research at three institutes of higher education Gujarat before publishing her book "The English-Vernacular divide: Postcolonial language politics and practice." in 2005. The following is an interesting findings from her work:-

English language instruction in the Vernacular Medium (VM) is focused on developing survival English by acquiring discrete grammatical skills by means of rote, patterned activities. In contrast, language and literature activities in the English Medium (EM) textbooks are centered around self-discovery, expressing the students’ voice in their writing and more creative and analytical responses to the texts they read. The author identifies how the limited, survival-oriented approaches to English in the VM track of education precludes most VM students from acquiring advanced levels of English proficiency. This process acts as a gatekeeper, preventing VM students from passing the state-mandated exams that allow them to enter more prestigious EM institutions of higher education, or to study more prestigious EM majors, such as engineering and technology.

This probably explains why students from Gujarat lose on huge opportunities at institutes of higher education and on job interviews, even though they can score good grades.

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