(Download) NCERT Revised syllabus Of English (Class 6 to 12 )

(Download) NCERT Revised syllabus Of English (Class 6 to 12 )

1. ABOUT LANGUAGE, LANGUAGE LEARNING AND MULTILINGUALITY

1.0 Introduction

This syllabus has primarily been conceptualised as a broad framework for teaching languages. We do hope that different states, districts and in some cases, maybe even some blocks, adopt and adapt this framework according to their local contexts, accommodating children with diverse abilities for their own area.

All human beings use language for a variety of purposes. Even children with most diverse abilities such as visually or hearing impaired use as complex and rich a system of communication as any ‘normal child’ does. It is therefore not at all surprising that most people think that they know many things about language. This is indeed unfortunate. Language is not only a means of communication; it is also a medium through which most of our knowledge is acquired; it is a system that to a great extent structures the reality around us for representing it in our minds; it is a marker of our identity in a variety of ways; and finally, it is closely associated with power in society. We should also remember that we use language not only to talk to others but also to ourselves, and that indeed is a very important function of language. How else shall we clarify our thoughts if we don’t learn to talk to ourselves in the first instance?

We need language to understand different content areas such as History, Physics or Mathematics. Similarly, whether we see nature or society, we see it, to a large extent, in terms of our language. It is our language which tells us whether we see just barf or both ‘ice’ and ‘snow’ or above 20 words for a similar object as the Eskimos do. Any time a community wishes to fight for a separate state, it invariably brings in the issue of its language; many, in the case of India, would make serious efforts to have their language included in the 8th Schedule of the Constitution. And as far as the relationship of language with power is concerned, we all know that when we insist on a certain kind of pronunciation or writing system as being ‘correct’ and ‘pure’ and ‘standard’, we are in effect saying that if you wish to gain power in society, this is what you must do. Most children learn not just one but several languages before they come to school. The number of words a child knows before she comes to school is over 5000 or so. Multilingualism is thus constitutive of our identity. Even the so-called ‘monolingual’ in a remote village often controls
a verbal repertoire that equips her to function adequately over a large number of communicative encounters. We should also note that several recent studies have effectively demonstrated the positive relationship of multilingualism with cognitive growth, social tolerance, divergent thinking and scholastic achievement.

From the point of view of the science of language, all languages including what we call ‘dialects’, ‘tribal’, ‘mixed’ or ‘impure’ languages are equal; languages thrive in each other’s company even when each one has its own quality and genius. In a multilingual class, it is absolutely imperative hat every child’s language is respected and becomes a part of the teaching strategies.

1.1 Language Faculty

All children learn not only the basic systems and subsystems of their language but also how to use them appropriately (i.e. they acquire not only linguistic but also communicative competence) before they are three years old. It is eminently possible to engage in a meaningful conversation with a three-year-old on any subject that falls within her cognitive domain. It therefore seems obvious that in addition to the rich and caring exposure that they receive, normal children may be born with an innate language faculty as Chomsky has argued. Even though all languages have different words for different objects and different kinds of phrases and expressions etc., we note that all have categories like Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives or either a Subject-Verb-Object (like English) or a Subject-Object-Verb (like Hindi) word order or that they will have several rules that cut across languages (see 1.2). The awareness that there is an innate Language Faculty has two important pedagogical consequences: given adequate exposure, children will acquire new languages with ease; the focus in teaching should be more on content than grammar.

1.2 Language as a Rule-governed System

For linguists, who study the structure of language in a scientific way, the grammar of a language is a highly abstract system consisting of several subsystems. At the level of sounds, languages of the world are closely associated with rhythm and music in terms of their intonation patterns and pitch contours. For example, no Indian language or even English allows more than three consonantal sounds at the beginning of a word, and even when three are allowed the choices are highly restricted. The first consonant can only be ‘s’, the second only ‘p’, ‘t’ or ‘k’ and the third only ‘y’, ‘r’, ‘l’ or ‘w’ as in Hindi strii ‘woman’ or in English ‘spring’, ‘street’, ‘squash’, ‘screw’ etc. Language is similarly rule-governed at the levels of words, sentences and discourse. Some of these rules are located in our innate Language Faculty but most are socio-historically constituted and show a considerable amount of variation across time and space both at the individual and social levels. Such linguistic variability is always present in a classroom and a teacher should be aware of it and use it as constructively as possible.

1.3 Speech and Writing

The fundamental difference between speech and writing is that written language is consciously monitored and frozen in time; we can return to it whenever we want. Spoken language is far more transient in nature and changes far more rapidly than the written language. One should not, therefore, be surprised to notice discrepancies between the spoken and written languages. There is no intrinsic relationship between speech and script; no sacrosanct connection between spoken English and the Roman script or between spoken Sanskrit or Hindi language and the Devanagari script. In fact, all the languages of the world, with minor modifications, can be written in one script, just as any single language can be written in all the scripts of the world. Such awareness about the relationship between speech and script has important pedagogical implications. Teachers who become aware of this phenomenon often change their attitudes to errors and begin to develop innovative teaching methods.

1.4 Language, Literature and Aesthetics

There are several functions of language which have been paid lip service by language education planners. Apart from having the quality of unfolding the world, language has many fictional elements. Poetry, prose and drama are potent sources not only of refining our literary sensibility but also of enriching our aesthetic life, enhancing our synaesthetic abilities and enormously improving our linguistic abilities, particularly reading comprehension and written articulation. Literature also includes jokes, irony, fantasy, story, parody and parable which pervade our everyday discourse.

At Tagore’s Santiniketan, it was common practice that students would read a play with Tagore, translate it into Bangla, prepare to stage it, set up the stage and finally reach the play to the members of the community in all its glory. As Marx pointed out, a language education policy cannot afford to ignore the fictional, narrative, metaphysical or rhetorical elements of language and treat it only as a useful vehicle or tool for achieving some worldly gains. Human beings not only appreciate beauty but also often systematically codify laws that govern aesthetic dimensions. A considered appreciation of the aesthetic aspects of language would inevitably lead to a preference for linguistic vitality and creativity and help us to eliminate our obsession with purity and correctness. Such processes would ensure space for dialogue and negotiation rather than monologue and aggression. This would also hopefully lead to a respect for minor and endangered languages that is legitimately due to them. No community wishes to let its ‘voice’ die.

1.5 Language and Society

Even though children appear to be born with an innate language faculty, individual languages are acquired in specific socio-cultural and political contexts. Every child learns what to say, to whom and where. As Labov has shown, languages are inherently variable, and different styles tend to be used in different contexts by different age groups . The variability in human linguistic behaviour is not thus randomly distributed but links systems of language, communication, thought and knowledge. As Aurorin points out, ‘language cannot exist and develop outside society. Development of language is ultimately stimulated by our cultural heritage and the needs of social development, but we would not overlook the reverse dependence either. Human society cannot do without language as the most important, most perfect and universal means of communication, formation of thought and accumulation and transmission of expression.’ It is equally important to realize that languages are not ‘discrete objects out there’, almost frozen in time and space, both physical and mental. They are actually constantly changing, fluid systems of behaviour which human beings acquire and change to define themselves and the world around them. Very often languages

 

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