English Language Policy in India


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English language policy in India

Englishlanguage and its roots in India

India has faith in the life-changing influence of English aswitnessed both in urban and rural areas, regardless of the age orbackground of the individual. In the country, English language is notconsidered to be an ordinary communication skill, but a sign ofbetter life. This is because almost all the important services aredelivered in English, beginning from education to research, commerceto agriculture, and many other services. As such, there is a ratherstrong effort by the government to ensure that citizens get access tothe language’s learning material and support. The responsibility toteach the language in the country has been put on variousstakeholders, including the Ministry of Education and the country’sTeaching Service Commission. Despite the fact that there are quite anumber of challenges in providing collective access to English andcertain hindrances enabled by factors such as the existence ofseveral languages in the country, English language has over timedeveloped to be an influential agent for communication and operationsin India.

English language and literature in India began with the coming on ofEast India Company in the 17th century (Bergs, 2012). Thiswas when Emperor Jahangir welcomed the English people into thecountry. As the company spread its wings throughout the country, thelanguage began taking influence into the interior. However, theadministrations had yet to use or any English book. This would notproceed until late in the 17th century when a printingpress was established in India. Among the first English texts to bepublished were the Bible and government rulings. This would then befollowed by a number of newspapers, which were written in simpleEnglish with the aim of helping the locals learn the language fast.The first newspaper to be printed was Hickey’s Bengal Gazette(Khan, 2014). In its early stages, Western art form of thenovel influenced Indian writings in English. Chandra (2014) says thatit was common for the Indian English writers to use complete Indianwords to convey the message, especially to the school children. Totalconquering by the language was achieved in the 20thcentury, where a new breed of writers wrote pure English, without theunmodified Indian words.

As India became independent in 1947, there were plans to totallyphase out the language (Sarkar, 2014). The government had pointed outa number of requests for a language to be accepted as a nationallanguage. First, it had to be easy for government officials to learn.The language also had to be capable of serving as a medium forreligious, economic and political interaction. It was also beaccepted by a majority of the Indians, and they would have to be ableto learn it easily. Lastly, while selecting the language, temporaryinterests could not count. However, with the British government andinternational community’s intervention, the Indian governmentdecided to use both English and Hindi as the national languages.

Howit has changed over the years

As noted earlier, there were plans by the Indian government to phaseout English language after independence. Despite the pressure fromnationalists, the language remains at the heart of the Indiansociety. Only about 10% of the Indian population speaks the languageon a daily basis (Braine, 2014). However, this figure is significant,given that this represents about 125 million people. This means thatIndia has the largest population that speaks the language outside theUSA, a sign that looks at the total population rather than apercentage of the population.

However,the form of English that is used in India is not purely similar tothe standard one. There are quite a number of elements thatcharacterize extreme forms of Asian influence. For instance, manyIndian speakers find it difficult to differentiate between the sounds&ltv&gt and &ltw&gt. They also substitute the sound for &ltth &gtwith &ltt&gt and &ltd&gt. Additionally, the Asian influence hasaffected the English grammar, for example, the use of open-mindedtenses in statements (Jones, 2011). Over the years, due to the Asianinfluence, there are some words and phrases that have been completelyreplaced by Indian substitutes. Such things have led to significantchange of the English form in the country.


Rao (n.d) says that while involving a language policy for India,there has to be an evaluation and understanding of the conflictbrought about by the presence of several languages in the country.There are certain concepts that have complicated some normalconsiderations of the language policy. However, with importantgovernment efforts for Education in India, English language is amongthe nation’s official languages that are taught in school. Giventhat learning opportunities for English in India are intervened by adifference of experiences, the language spans thefirst-second-foreign language range in India. There is curricularfreedom that has been driven by English language ability rather thancurricular understanding. The English policy in schools is forenhancing academic excellence and enhancing communication skills.

InIndia, the setting in which English is communicated in schoolsreflects the related diversity (Ah-Ahdal, 2014). The capability isaffected by two variables, the educators’ ability and environmentalexperience to the language. As such, the English teaching policy thatis spoken by the National Curriculum Framework (NCF) overlookspractical instruction of language (Blumenreich &amp Gupta, 2015).Instead, the policy looks to creating guiding principles for Englishteaching and acquirement. This gives space for accommodation ofapplications for the good of the local needs and the availableresources. Therefore, the current policy attempts to point outspecific delivery systems for clear teaching of the language, both inand out of school.

Thecurrent policy carries with it the ambitions and purposes of theearlier policies, which are to develop skill in ordinary English as afoundation for future academic and professional use of the language.As per the application strategies that have been laid down, theschool-goers’ skill in the language may out-space the teachers’competence. The policy therefore can be said to allow for a varietyof possible standards. In India, this is licensed by evaluationthrough continuous valuation (by exams and other language tests).This ignores achievements within particular curricula. According tothe British Council Report of 2013, the current Indian Englishlanguage policy in India values language skill with respect tonational standard (Berry, 2013). The government aims to balance thecurricular freedom with certain standards of achievement, which givesways for other certification. This policy, therefore, has an ambitionof creating an input-rich environment that promotes both thelanguage’s educators and learners.

Requirementfor education

Just about all universities in India, especially the internationaluniversities, have strict English qualification standards foradmission. For undergraduate programs, candidates with good marksawarded through the India Council for School Examinations (ICSE) areconsidered for direct admission to Bachelor’s degrees. The minimumrecommended score is 75% (Emery, 2012). Additionally, students withstandard XII are considered to satisfy the English languagerequirements. However, there are different language requirements forvarious courses. This means that the students wishing to pursuecertain degrees have to confirm with the institutions for higherlearning regarding their specific set minimums.

Policies related to teacher certification

In India, there are three main school boards tasked with regulatingthe syllabus, syllabus and examinations. These are state governmentboards, the Central Board of Secondary Education and the Council forthe Indian School Certificate Examinations. The state governmentboards account for a majority on school children enrolment. They alsohire the largest number of teachers. Despite the fact that theprivate schools hire the largest number of teachers, better teachersare hired by private schools. This is because the private sector inthe country pays higher than the public sector.

The Indian National Policy on Education board has policies for hiringEnglish teachers to teach at primary and secondary levels (Chudgar,2013). However, most of these policies apply to all other subjects.The most unique policy is that the method of recruiting the teachersis reorganized to ensure value and fairness is given priority (NPEB,n.d). The system of evaluating the teachers is open, participativeand data based. Additionally, teacher education is a constant processand new teacher training programs emphasize on continuing educationand the need for the teachers to satisfy all requirements proposed bythe National Policy on Education policy. Generally the policyemphasizes on continuous study of English so as to keep up with thegrowing pace global education standards.

Generalimpact of the Indian English language policy

India’s policy on English language has had numerous positivesuggestions for the country’s educational development. Beingimposed by the British rule in India, the policy has helped thecountry to develop a workable educational and professional systemwhich puts the country on the international stage. The country hasalso made huge steps in social development, thanks to the literateand highly talented professionals who practice internationally.Economically, it has been argued that the implementation of theEnglish language policy in the country has aided in the developmentof economic sectors, such as industry and commerce. Additionally, thedevelopment of English language in learning institutions has enabledthe country’s leaders to excel in other fields such as sciences andarts. The English policy has also helped the country’s politicaland social institutions to deliver to the public, as it unifiescommunication between people of different languages. India is amultilingual nation, and therefore, by setting supportive policiesfor English language, the people find a common medium forcommunication. In India, the implementation of the English languagein schools has put pressure on the government schools to reform theThree language Formula (TLF). This is due to the emphasis on the useof English language over mother-tongue. Generally, India’s Englishlanguage policy has been influential in the growth and development ofthe country’s education system to the global standards. Indiaremains on course to have a standardized policy on the language thatmatches policies in USA and UK.


Meganathan(2011) asserts that people across India believe in the life-changinginfluence of English, which means Indians see English as a symbol ofbetter life. In this regards, the address on the English language inIndia provides a significant illustration on some of the aspects thatone needs to know before teaching English overseas. In fact,information provided by the body of literature presented in the papershows that most people oversees see English as a way of gainingknowledge and filling study gaps. Teaching English abroad provides aremarkable adventure as Meganathan and other analysts show, but oneneeds to understand cultural differences, taboos and etiquette,safety, health, policies on language, and other requirements abroad.In addition, Meganathan (2011) contends that accommodation of morethan two languages in education means that needs to understanddiversity, understand the demand of English, body of instruction, andthe policies governing tutelage. In this regards, the highlightedinformation throughout the paper will help people willing to teachEnglish abroad in understanding the requirements of students,language etiquette, borrowed phrases, and existence of English wordsthat bear different meanings in oversees.


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