Essay on General aims: reception and expression in India

The study of every language has four important aspects, namely the Phonetic Aspect, the Semantic Aspect, the Graphic Aspect and the Phonetic-cum-Graphic Aspect. The Phonetic Aspect refers to speech and pronunciation, that is, listening and speaking.

The Semantic Aspect refers to the meaning of the words and their inter-relationships in a sentence. The Graphic Aspect refers to the written shapes of the language. Lastly, the Phonetic-cum-Graphic Aspect refers to the reading side of the language.

None of the above aspects of a language can work in isolation. They must function in coordination with one another. We have accepted English to be foreign language as well as a library language. In this context, the above aspects can be rolled into the following general aims:

Aims of teaching English in India can be divided into two categories:

I. Reception; and

II. Expression.

We shall discuss these aims in the following paragraphs.

All language is first received and then expressed. In language learning, four language skills are involved. These skills are listening and understanding, reading and understanding, speaking and writing.

The differences among these skills bring to light the differences between responding to language (reception) and using language (expression). In the first case, the learner gives meaning to language symbols, spoken or written. In the second case (using or expression), the learner has to produce both meaning and symbols.

I. Reception

Reception involves:

(a) Listening and understanding.

(b) Reading and understanding.

All language learning begins with the ear. So the teacher must aim at making his learners respond to the target language when it is spoken. Of course, ear-training begins in the mother-tongue class. But in learning English as a second or foreign language, the learner is to respond to a new set of symbols in speech.

To achieve this aim, the teacher must provide maximum opportunities to his pupil to listen to the spoken forms of English language. For this purpose, he may use different audio-aides such as tape- recorder, radio etc. The aim should be that children learn to respond to English sounds produced in quick succession. In fact, everything in language learning is based on good listening.

Besides responding to spoken symbols, the learners must also learn to respond to written symbols. Reading is also a good means of receiving language. Reception through reading for acquiring knowledge should come much later than regarding for expression has been acquired.

II. Expression

To achieve the aim of expression, the learner must start 'using' the target language (English) in (a) speaking, (b) reading, (c) writing.

(a) Speaking. Listening is naturally followed by speaking. Once the child has started understanding language symbols, he should be given opportunities to use those verbal symbols in speech. This means:

(i) The child should be able to make the sounds of English- individual sounds as well as sounds in combination;

(ii) He should know the proper use of stress and intonation;

(iii) He should be able to express himself through short, simple sentences;

(iv) He should be able to converse in English, answer simple questions and ask simple questions;

(v) He should be able to talk in simple English about events, places, things and persons.

The teacher can achieve this aim in a number of ways:

(i) The child should be given as many opportunities as possible to listen and speak English,

(ii) The teacher should become a good model of speech for the child. A good model will produce a good speaker, and bad model, a bad speaker;

{iii) In order to be a good model the teacher should himself learn and practise English sounds;

(iv) The teacher should make use of aids such as linguaphone, gramophone, tape-recorder, radio, etc., during the teaching hours.

(b) Reading

Reading is an important aim of language teaching. The idea is that young pupils should have had a sound training in reading mother-tongue before they start reading the foreign language. Pupils should be able to read well and read with comprehension. Early expression in reading must be in the form of loud reading.

This will prepare ground for silent reading in higher classes and in adult life. Reading will help the pupils to get pleasure out of the language. There are a number of problems in learning foreign language. The teacher should know these problems of the pupils and help them in every way to read well. While teaching loud reading, the teacher should see to it that:

(i) The pupils pronounce words correctly.

(ii) The pupils lay proper stress on words.

(iii) The pupils bring in proper intonation.

(iv) The pupils read at reasonable speed.

(v) They do not commit reading faults of hand and eye movements.

The teacher should help the pupils in understanding new words and sentence patterns. The pupils should increase their recognition vocabulary.

(c) Writing

While teaching English for practical purpose pupils must be given the ability to write simple and correct English. This is the most difficult task. The aim here is to enable the pupils to write on simple topics of day to day life such as letters to friends and relations, applications and simple notes or invitations.

This ability calls for handwriting, spelling, structures, words of active use, punctuation, etc. In order to achieve this aim, the teacher should begin teaching the pupils how to make the shapes of English letters. Afterwards, he should teach them the other aspects of writing through chained-composition and then free composition. The use of visual aids will prove valuable in achieving this aim.

The above, then, are the important general aims of teaching English to Indian children. An Indian child will be said to have gained working and practical mastery over English if he has learnt the four basic skills:

(i) Understanding spoken English;

(ii) Speaking correct English;

(iii) Reading English; and

(iv) Writing simple and correct English for daily use.