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In the field of English Language Teaching there have been arguments and counter arguments about the

role of various methods, approaches and techniques in learning the language. Over the centuries, these
methods and approaches have been critically in and out of favour in educational programmes. The
recent expansion of technology also led to umpteen innovative methods of teaching such as Teaching
Assisted Language Learning (TALL), Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL), Computer Assisted
Language Learning (CALL), Web Enhanced Language Learning (WELL), and Mobile Assisted Language
Learning (MALL). Every year the institutions of higher learning conduct seminars, conferences,
and teacher-training programmes and invite experts on English Language teaching who give
interesting talks. But the question is, Do they really help us? Do we effectively use those techniques
in the classroom? Do we actually get success in improving the students’ powers of expression? If
the answer is ‘Yes’ then why the Indians are lacking communication skills and one witnesses a
marked failure in the effective use of English. A study is made in the paper based on the Report that
was published by British Council in The Deccan Herald. The Report says: The pace of improvement in
the English language skills of the Indian population is currently too slow to prevent India from falling
behind other countries which have implemented the teaching of English in primary schools sooner,
and more successfully. Thus, the present paper studies some of the reasons for our failures and also
attempts to give a remedy to those problems.

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 professionals to clear tests such as
GRE, TOEFL, IELTS, etc. Hence, the teaching of English language became essential in the Indian
classroom. The present paper is based on the Report that was published by The British Council,
Britain’s International Cultural Relations Body, in The Deccan Herald. The Report says that India is
falling behind China in its attempts to increase the use of English, risking squandering a key economic
advantage. The study estimates less than five per cent of the Indian population speaks English
which would mean that only about 55 million people in India will be fluent English speakers by
2010. In comparison, China adds 20 million English speakers each year as a result of new
education policies that require English to be a compulsory subject in primary schools. China had
200 million English users in 1995 and currently it has reached nearly 400 million English speakers.
The Report further says: The rate of improvement in the English language skills of the Indian
population is currently too slow to prevent India falling behind other countries which have
implemented the teaching of English in primary schools sooner, and more successfully. … Poor
English is one of the causes of Indian universities falling far short of rival countries in the quality of
teaching and research.1 In conclusion, the study says a range of approaches is required to improve
English proficiency in India, and no single method will help. Before we look at the remedies to solve
this problem, let us have a glimpse at the various methods and approaches which are critically in and
out of favour in educational programmes. ‘Grammar-Translation Method’ is the oldest method of
teaching English in India. The method emphasizes reading, writing, translation, and the conscious
learning of grammatical rules. Its primary goal is to develop literary mastery of the second language.
Memorization is the main learning strategy and students spend their class time talking about the
language instead of talking in the language. According to this method, English words, phrases, and
sentences are taught by means of word-for-word translation in to mother tongue. In the words of
O’ Grade, et al. (1993),
ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 The curriculum requires the
memorization of paradigms, patterns, and vocabulary, with translation being used to test the
acquired knowledge. Consequently, the role of L1 (that is, mother tongue or native language) is
quite prominent.2 But the method ignores the natural way of learning language and it aims at
passive mastery of the language. It binds the language within the rules of grammar and makes the
students passive listeners. Another method of teaching English is ‘the Direct Method’ that came as
a reaction against the Grammar-Translation Method. It is a method in which a new word or
expression is connected in the pupil’s mind directly with what stands for and not through the
medium of vernacular. English is taught in the medium of English and not in the medium of the
mother-tongue. The pupils get many opportunities to listen to spoken English that is very important
for language mastery. It follows the natural way of learning the language. But the method has its
own disadvantages. No doubt the method is very useful in the early stages, but it cannot work well
in higher classes as it requires teachers who are skilled in handling language material. This method
suits to those students who are linguistically strong as its basic principles that the aural-oral appeal is
stronger than the visual in learning a foreign language. Dr. Michael West, the longtime Principal of
the Teachers’ Training College, studied the problem of teaching English in India in relation to the
bilingual needs of an Indian child. His method ‘Dr. West’s New Method’ is a reaction against the
Direct Method and suggests some improvement on it just as the Direct Method was a reaction against
the Translation Method. He views that it is sufficient for the Indians to acquire largely a reading
acquaintance with English though speaking and writing are included in the English curriculum. But
many people criticized this method as they feel that the language learning cannot be justified if it is
exclusively for reading purpose. ‘Bilingual Method’ is another method that strikes the balance
between the grammar-translation method and the direct method. In this method, two languages are
used, that is, one that is to be learnt (English) and the mother-tongue. The basic aim of this
method is to help the student speak and write fluently and accurately in the target language. The use
of the mother tongue makes the students understand quickly. But this method too has its own

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 disadvantages as the use of the
mother tongue affects markedly the students from acquiring a working knowledge of English. It also
prevents direct thinking in English. There are other methods like ‘the Natural Method,’ ‘The
Phonetic Method,’ ‘The Audio-lingual Method,’ which also stress only on a particular skill determining
the other skills of the language. Hence, no method serves as a complete method. A complete
method or the best method is the one which develops the four important skills – Listening,
Speaking, Reading, and Writing. Besides the aforesaid discussed methods, there are some
approaches of teaching English. English has been taught by using different approaches and
techniques from time to time. As such, structural approach is one which lasted for a long time. It
creates suitable environment in the class for learning a foreign language. It gives command over the
language as there are more opportunities to the pupils to express their ideas, feelings and
experiences in the English language. But some critics feel that the teacher cannot successfully
teach prose, poetry, and composition and the present curricula is not suitable to follow this method.
‘The Communicative Approach’ argues that merely knowing how to produce a grammatically correct
sentence is not enough. A communicatively competent person must also know how to produce an
appropriate, natural and socially acceptable utterance in all contexts of communication. ‘Hey, buddy,
you fix my car!’ is grammatically correct but not as effective expression in most social contexts as
‘Excuse me, sir, I was wondering whether I could have my car fixed today.’ The approach lays
emphasis on language practice, pupils’ involvement, fluency in speech, cooperative relationships,
etc. But the approach cannot be implemented in the Indian classrooms as our classrooms are over-
crowded. Even average teachers with limited language skills cannot make this approach a success.
‘The Situational Approach’ makes the language teaching natural, meaningful and realistic by
teaching the structural pattern and vocabulary situationally. It gives a sound understanding and
helps the teacher to practise the structure in relating to its meaning. It also helps him in building
up a vocabulary of content words. But it has its own limitations like the teacher has to do a lot of
planning to think of appropriate situation through which to

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 teach the language material
meaningfully, lively, and effectively. ‘The Oral Approach,’ and ‘Total Physical Response Approach,’
are some other approaches which also failed to improve the communication skills of the students.
The recent expansion of technology also led to innumerable innovative methods of teaching such
as Teaching Assisted Language Learning (TALL), Technology Enhanced Language Learning (TELL),
Computer Assisted Language Learning (CALL), Web Enhanced Language Learning (WELL), and Mobile
Assisted Language Learning (MALL). Due to these methods, English language teaching (ELT) has
undergone a purposeful change in terms of syllabus design, instructional material and techniques
of teaching. This change is mainly the outcome of result oriented tasks which led to a need-based
instruction. The constant interaction between the Institute and the professional world has led to
the interflow of ideas and cross-fertilization of concepts. With this ELT has gradually become
academically more meaningful and socially more relevant. Unfortunately these techniques too could
not solve the problem of English language teaching because most of the teachers do not have
computer knowledge and they could not make the effective use of computers. Sometimes the
management of educational institutions also failed to establish computer laboratories to improve the
standards of the students. So, naturally these innovative teaching methodologies with the help of
computer also could not serve the students. In fact, every year the Department of Higher education
encourages the institutions of higher learning to conduct seminars, conferences, and teacher-
training programmes so that the experts on the language come out with innovative methodologies
that help the teachers in English Language teaching. But the question is, Do they really help us? Do
we effectively use those techniques in the classroom? Do we actually get success in improving the
students’ powers of expression? If the answer is ‘Yes’ why in India one easily witnesses a marked
failure in the effective use of English and why do the Indians lack in communication skills. The first and
the foremost reason for this is that the lack of clarity of vision about its goals. India’s association with
English has been long and multifaceted. But its teaching and learning have proved complicated,
thanks to a host of factors such as professional incompetence of the teacher, lack of interest
among students, improper syllabus design, lack of practice

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 and motivation from the teachers,
faulty system of examination, and a general deterioration in education standards. Another major
reason that made the task of English language teaching and learning really problematic is the
methodology of teaching English in schools, colleges, and universities. As a corollary to the
functional imperatives of English language teaching, it is essential to restructure the syllabus of
English at schools, colleges, and universities so as to attain the goal of functional proficiency in
English. The syllabus should be so graded that starting with the basics of English language at the
lower level, gradually the elementary and higher level may be introduced in the form of interesting
and instructive short stories, anecdotes, essays, and poems. Writing of popular writers like
Shakespeare, Narayan, Ruskin, etc. may be chosen to capture the imagination of the young minds.
Nowadays, the English language has gained importance in the Indian context, more specifically in
relation to business. As a consequence modules such as presenting writing material, oral reporting,
making inquiries, giving instructions and directions, participating in meetings, seminars, interviewing,
negotiating skills, demonstrating, making speeches, formal teaching, must be prescribed to improve
Spoken English. To develop writing skills components like writing letters, reports, memos, orders,
notices, circulars, agenda, minutes, technical proposals, abstraction and summarizing, research
papers, articles, booklets, brochures, press releases have to be prescribed. As language is an over
learned skill, the prescribed pieces should become the springboard for the simultaneous study of
language and grammar. Another thing that one has to remember is that the ability in a language grows
by practice – constant and consistent – but not merely by knowing the rules of grammar and
cramming its vocabulary. Thus, the knowledge of English must be imparted through appropriately
structured syllabus which can be done only by an able teacher. Hence, the competence of the
teacher also plays a major role in the effective teaching of English. Truly speaking, the competence
of teacher is a vital issue to overcome the problems of English language teaching. The fact is
that all the methods and strategies become useless if the teacher is incompetent whereas a
competent teacher can make things happen without them. Specialized training and knowledge is

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 required to develop linguistic
competence among English language teachers, which is simply not there. Most of the teachers
remain ignorant of the new approaches, latest aids and tools, and the changes taking place in the
pedagogy of teaching and learning. The teachers teach the English language not as a skill as it
ought to be but merely a subject to help their students to get through the examination. Consequently,
at the end of a course, students acquire little or no proficiency in linguistic skills like speaking,
reading, and writing. Frankly speaking, many a teacher themselves are lacking in these skills. So
they should be given periodical training through workshops for better English Language Teaching. In
this regard M.L. Tickoo’s views are worth quoting: In the hands of a teacher appropriately trained,
a structural syllabus can be an effective tool for teaching English … It is indeed a delightful sight to
see a class buzzing with activities like the bee-hive as it gainfully learns by doing and speaking.3
Another solution to impart English language teaching effectively in the Indian classrooms is that the
teacher must remember the two-way process in which involvement and participation of the
students are absolutely essential. It would be no exaggeration to say that in most classrooms in
India learning of English is an extremely boring, even painful experience. The teacher reads a few
lines from the text book and explains the meaning. The students sit through the class like dumb
driven cattle with practically no initiative or involvement. As such they learn nothing of the four
basic language skills. Therefore, one must realize that one can learn something only by doing. The
following are some other suggestions that could be considered to uplift the standard of all English
language learners from the present irredeemable and tragic state. 1. The authorities of schools and
colleges should encourage students to speak only in English. The classroom must also be made
interactive by employing various techniques like role-play, play reading, group discussion, buzz
group activity, debates, elocution, etc. which would involve the students in the English study and
unconsciously remove the stage fright and make the students more articulate.

ELK Asia Pacific Journals – Special Issue ISBN: 978-81-930411-1-6 2. The educational institutions
should be empowered and encouraged to adopt the stream so that all students with respect to their
varying degree of proficiency in English would reap the benefits of learning English. This system
would definitely provide a challenging atmosphere to the outstanding students and a healthy
atmosphere to the average and weaker students in English; 3. The conventional evaluation methods
should be modified appropriately so that they assess both the learner’s theoretical knowledge and
oral communication skills in English. 4. As there is a gradual rise in the trend towards job oriented
courses, the university could contemplate vocationalizing English and designing separate English
curriculum for every subject by analyzing the requirement of specific jobs in consultation with the
employers and professionals of various fields. 5. According to the local needs and standard of the
students, the college could offer an enrichment course or a diploma course in ‘Spoken English and
Public Speaking’ and ‘What is Not Taught in the Classroom’ in addition to the University
prescribed English curriculum; 6. The students could be frequently exposed to good English plays,
movies of popular classical novels and good English programmes through video sessions in the
classrooms. Finally, the teaching of English is not something that ‘you do the tough and master the
easy.’ But the reverse seems true. The four components of teaching a language – the learner,
the teacher, the class, and the syllabus – if properly organized and coordinated, English teaching
and learning can be effective. To conclude, we can say that unless we rectify and overcome the
failures we cannot achieve success. References [1] “China has m