Published: 03rd September 2017
Question purinjidha? How teaching English for an hour a day can help rural, small-town students do much better at NEET
Many students from backgrounds similar to Anitha's, who unlike her wrote the test in English, struggled not just because of the syllabus, but because the language of the questions confused them
India, a country so diverse is yet unified by one unassailable factor, that of the link language —English. We Indians can put forth our ideas and arguments in such succinct and sensible terms only because of the greatest British legacy, the English language.
Many State governments, after initial aversion to English, have changed tack having realised the efficacy of this unifying link language and so have brought in policy to teach English even from the kindergarten classes. West Bengal is the most recent to join this list of states. It is just not enough understanding the necessity for English. The need of the hour is the know-how of proper implementation of English in the Educational System.
English connect: Experts believe that many like Anitha could score better if they were fluent in English
Tackling a competitive examination like NEET, first and foremost, requires the understanding of the questions asked. No solution can be found where the problem is not understood. In this case, the problem is simply that most students struggle to do well at NEET because their comprehension of English is found lacking.
The vocabulary requirements of a speaker of any language are 2500 to 3000 words. That Shakespeare had a 21000-word vocabulary makes the Bard a genius. But our students from the vernacular medium, the rural masses and those from the depressed communities, hardly have a 1000 word vocabulary, even though they learn the language for more than 1500 hours spread over 10 to 12 years of their school life.
What else: Most students struggle to do well at NEET because their comprehension of English is found lacking
The depth of pity and sadness at this sorry state of affairs is made more poignant by the fact that English can be taught to anyone above 12 years of age in just 90 classes of 1-1.5 hours duration spread over 6 to 8 months and bring them up to the level of comprehending and communicating matters in speech and writing of that which is found in any national level newspaper. If they can achieve that, then understanding the questions in an exam like NEET will be infinitely easier.
Fortification of English through specially devised programmes for school and college teachers is an absolute must. Once the teachers are equipped with an adequate knowledge of English, the students can be easily brought in with quality control techniques in the imparting of English knowledge.
Let us echo with St. Jerome, "good, better, best, Never let it rest, Till the good is better and the better, the best.
(The writer is a retired professor of English with more than three decades experience and has a doctorate in English and Adult and Continuing Education from the University of Madras and is currently the Chairman of PRICE)