Communicative English Programme
1. Title of the Practice: Communicative English Programme
2. Objectives of the Practice
The following are the objectives of Communicative English Programme:
- To enable students to learn correct pronunciation, spelling, meaning and usage of English Vocabularies.
- To make students frame correct sentences with known vocabularies related to on daily routines.
- To give English language skill practice to students to enhance their English proficiency.
- To expose students to native speakers’ spoken language to enable students to recognize native speakers’ accent and language usage.
- To simulate real life situations in the classroom to practice real English dialogues and speeches to gain English language fluency.
- To give both silent and loud reading practice to students, to enhance their comprehension and English sound recognition skills.
- To help students overcome their fear and to speak in English in front of their peers and teachers thus, build their self-confidence through various classroom activities and outdoor activities.
- To help students to become autonomous and self-directed English language learners.
- To produce entrepreneurs among students by making them English language trainers and to take communicative English to schools and colleges around.
3. The Context
Sacred Heart College (Autonomous), Tirupattur is geographically located in Vellore District and it is an agricultural hub of Tamil Nadu. Needless to say that the students pursuing their studies at Sacred Heart College, hail from many surrounding villages situated in an around the rural region of Tirupattur. When it comes to education, students from rural areas face a number of challenges. Especially, at the tertiary level of education, English is identified as posing a great challenge to the rural Indian learners. It is against this background that the relevance and urgency of this best practice could be understood in its depth as majority of the students enrolled at Sacred Heart College have done their schooling in Tamil medium, that too in government run schools, and hence their exposure to English is to a very minimum standard.
4. The Practice
Facts - Constrains and Limitations
- At Sacred Heart College majority of the students enrolled have done their schooling in a Tamil medium board of education and that too in government run schools and hence their exposure to English is to a minimum level.
- Another interesting fact is that the parents of such students themselves are not exposed to English and thus the family situation does not help him/her in acquiring the necessary English fluency at home.
- Most of the students enrolled in the college are from rural backgrounds and are not from co-educational schools. Hence, most of the students especially, the girls are tongue-tied in front of the boys.
Significance of English as a Language at the Indian Higher Education Standard
- Acquiring English language as a skill needs continuous language practice, which in the present context of education is not provided.
- Students who gain admission at Sacred Heart College do have the basic potential for English language, which calls for appropriate ways of making students acquire English.
- As almost all tertiary level studies are done through English medium of studies, it is necessary to enhance English language proficiency of the student’s right at the start of the studies, which will help them to pursue their main subjects of specialization.
- A good proficiency in English language could ensure a successful career in the present context of globalization.
Strategies Adopted to overcome the constrains and limitations
The first year students at the tertiary level of studies are streamed into three homogeneous groups. Two continuous hours are allocated for English Communicative Skill classes. All Departmental programmes programme are in English. Thus, creating a continuous English language learning environment.
The basic language skills of Listening, Speaking, Reading, and Writing (LSRW) are taught in isolation, emphasizing each skill at a time and the language assessment of learners are always done by a team of trainers.
Another significant feature of this novel programmes is that No term-end examination is conducted for Communicative English Programme. A series of formative tests are conducted at regular intervals to assess the progress made by the learners. The tests’ scores are used to make a final evaluation of a learner.
5. Evidence of Success
A scientific study was extended to the final year undergraduate students who have successfully completed two years of rigorous training on the programme ‘Communicative English’. The random sampling technique was adopted and 50% of the total population was taken for the study. A tool was developed and the reliability of the instrument was found to be .907 Cronbach's Alpha.
The study revealed that:
- Majority (65.4%) of the respondents stated that they were able to improve their English vocabulary and have developed their skills in narration.
- More than half (56.8%) of the respondents revealed that they have developed their extempore skills and have picked up the ability to comprehend audio and video presentations in English.
- Majority (63.7%) of the respondents stated that they have improved their reading comprehension skill.
- And more than half (58.9%) of the respondents stated that the programme on ‘Communicative English’ was effective to their overall development in their proficiency of the language.
It is noteworthy to mention the fact that though majority of the students from Sacred Heart College are from a rural background and are from a Tamil Medium of education, the programme has created a standard and a benchmark to enable its students to become efficient in English.
6. Problems Encountered and Resources Required
Bigger students’ strength in classes, regular absenteeism, lack of interests of students and timings for the classes of shift 1 were some of the major problems encountered. Various resources have been incorporated which include adequate composition of students in each class based on their entry-level in the English language proficiency. Departments were asked to organize events without affecting the Communicative English Programme in order to reduce absenteeism of students for participation in various activities. Students who lacked interest were regularly motivated to attend classes. The importance of English language in day-today life was also stated via such programmes. As shift-I students finish their regular classes at 1.30 pm and begin their Communicative English classes at 2.00 pm, they do not have adequate time to have their lunch and experience brain drain. Thus, students are encouraged to bring their lunch and mid-day meals are given to student who are unable to do so.