English is a language that is frequently used in everyday lives. It is the world’s most accessible language today. As the world becomes more interconnected, the importance of being able to read, write, and speak English will only increase. The rising demand for English as the medium of instruction in school gives rise to questions of access, exclusion, and affordability. In a system of instruction that is usually centered upon the teaching of the first, second, and third languages, robust lessons in all of them will not only help students learn to move easily among different registers of language early on but will also further India’s most valuable heritage – pluralism.
Any language that is used constantly while teaching, speaking, or for educational purposes is said to be the Medium of Instruction. It increases students’ exposure to the specific language and enhances their command over it. Governments argue in favor of having the English language as the medium of instruction in schools due to “the near-necessity of English proficiency for graduate employability”.
What are the benefits and challenges of having English as a medium of instruction?
English is a universal language spoken in every corner of the world. So students with the ability to speak in English –
- Find it easy to settle and move around in any part of the world
- Will be able to access better job opportunities and advanced career development.
- Will experience positive influence which adds value to one’s personality.
In an IT developed country like India, fluency in English is very important to be able to work around with the technology.
Having English as a medium of instruction had resulted in a class disparity among urban and rural populations. Those who study in the English medium were often the ones qualified for the “white-collar jobs”. Imparting English on children from the onset of education might also lead to loss of mother tongue or culture. This is also in conflict with the ideals of the Constitution of India as the fundamental right provided – Freedom of speech – doesn’t allow for English to be the official teaching language in schools.
The pros and cons of having English as the medium of teaching in schools are predominantly balanced. Learning English increases one’s chances of succeeding in career aspects by providing them with more opportunities. But the importance of the mother tongue can not be denied; rather conscious efforts must be made to ensure that it is not marginalized. UNESCO considers that “providing education in a child’s mother tongue is indeed a critical issue”. To reap the benefits of cultivating a universal language, we must strive to learn English without losing the essence of our language and culture.