Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Problems with the Communicative Approach in Teaching English

During the course of teaching English for fifteen years I have seen a steady veering away from the teaching of essentials of Grammar in classes leading to class eleventh.The amount of grammar taught in our syllabus is being steadily being Diluted by the framers of the curriculum and the syllabus. Grammar is the Maths of any language and you cannot teach the language without teaching Grammar! A student who doesn’t have a firm knowledge of Grammar can never be expected to frame sentences which are correct in syntax! So what is the teacher supposed to do while teaching English to students of classes sixth to eleventh of the C.B.S.E Board? Well, pat the answer comes, “Teach him to communicate!”  Which means, “How r u?” should be as good as, “How are you?” The C.B.S.E’s. Communicative and Interactive syllabus doesn’t do justice to the teaching of English in the schools of India! I feel dumbfounded by the expectations of the curriculum framers who think you can teach a student English without teaching him Grammar! Poor Chomsky would be confounded to see such a travesty in the teaching of this language! Chomsky believs that every child is born with a basic mental program, or circuit which responds to principles of Grammar, semantics, and syntax. So are we playing with Nature or the way the human brain is wired by neglecting the teaching of the principles of Grammar? I believe the answer is yes!
In class eleventh, the total marks awarded to the Grammar section in the Annual Question paper is ten-fifteen marks - that too in a paper of hundred marks! Forget about teaching formal Grammar! Editing and Omitting type of exercises can be effective only after the student is well versed in syntax and semantics of the subject! So now it seems our objective of teaching is only  to make  the student functionally aware about the language! It is no wonder therefore that a student may make as many mistakes as possible, he is not to be penalized for Grammatical errors, the only thing that matters is that he should “Communicate !”
I very strongly feel that when English is being taught as a second language then there should teaching of formal rules of grammar otherwise students are going to think in their mother tongue and then write a translation in English. One example how in Hindi read can also mean study, so a student who translates from Hindi would respond with the answer, 'I am reading in class ten,' to the question, 'What class are you in?'


  1. Sir this blog is one of the masterpieces I have ever read and heard.

  2. Sir hi again this is me , piyush.......... I am not able to write completely about the blog so I have decided to write more.
    It is really beautiful. I found it an appropriate tool to have deep insight into the educational system.
    I want to add on by saying that the so called "framers " of the edu. system, the revolutioneries excited enough to bring upon a change, rather a revolution in edu.system to upgrade the level of students of INDIA but they are unable to understand that have made a fuss of the INDIAN education. They have totally degraded the students of today and tomorrow. They have done exactly opposite to what they have wished of.............