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Innovative Ways of English Language Teaching in Rural India Through Technology

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The rural areas lack good schools having proper ambience and affordability which cater to the changing needs and expectations of the crass- commercial global world. In addition, the paying capacities of people in rural areas also add to the malady of learners who are forced to resort to traditional schools having teachers devoid of the familiarity with the effective language teaching strategies. Undeniably, many English teachers in rural areas are themselves not effective and fluent in using English. In many Indian states English language teaching is confined to the verbal rendering of lessons in regional languages helping learners to understand the content and not the structural nuances of languages. It is not surprising to note that English as a subject at school level in Indian rural areas gains serious attention when learners reach their secondary levels.

Poor grounding of students as regards vocabulary and structure disinterest them in paying attention to their English course. While teachers in their primary and secondary levels fail to complete the exercises or work-book sheets, students too shy away from these cumbersome tasks— resulting in their aversion to English. While lack of trained teachers in rural areas has become a reality, the engagement of teachers in various non-academic tasks (viz. data collection, census, election related works etc.) adds to the malaise. Teaching is a continuous process and teachers in rural India are often debarred from attending workshops and seminars to acquaint themselves with new ways and methods. Many teachers find no time for self-evaluation, which perhaps could lead to some self- devised ways of enhancing their teaching abilities. Schools and colleges in rural areas abound in natural bounties, much to the envy of urban populace. This also becomes a hurdle for many teachers to prefer teaching in rural areas. Natural disasters such as flood and draught, inadequate transport facilities and lack of other amenities also make even trained teachers reluctant to take an appointment in remote areas. Also, the slow pace of life and tardy speed of government policies and resources most often deter both teachers and students from garnering the benefits of advanced aids. In such a scenario an English teacher is bound to take resort to his old tools—namely books.

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The Indian rural populace, which depends on agriculture and limited income, despite their avidity to provide their children with a qualitative life, end up sending them to government schools where English is not taught as a skill but as a subject. Both parents and students emphasize simply on passing examinations just to climb the ladder of a higher class. As a result, students continue to carry the lapses of English throughout their lives. But this should not be taken as student’s lack of intellectual progress rather than the lack of resources. Mishra 39 The endangering situation of English language teaching in rural areas is no excuse to allow this malaise. A majority of Indians as, Graddol (2010) observes, ‘believe in the transformative power of English’. The new reality has enormous scope and application. Graddol observes: “Throughout India, there is a belief among almost all castes and classes in both rural and urban areas in the transformative power of English. English is seen not just as a useful skill but a symbol of better life, a pathway out of poverty and oppression” (Graddol p.120).

In such a scenario where neither adequate resource nor tools are available, English teachers themselves have to devise innovative ways to make their students climb the staircase easily. The teacher has to take a solemn pledge to hone his students’ knowledge of English. This can be done with a resolve, as Patil says: “I have to create opportunities for them to use English in meaningful, realistic, and relevant situations. Games, role play activities, information gap tasks, brain storming activities, riddles, puzzles, cartoons, anecdotes, jokes, songs and other low-cost and easily available teaching materials become handy” (Patil, 2008, p.07). In a world governed by technology, both students and teachers in rural areas have high expectations. The spreading hands of technology in their everyday lives have enabled them to compete with others despite some unalterable truths.

The arrival of computers, i-pads, cell phones, and innumerable gadgets has made them more enthusiastic. Who would not like to Google and Skype nowadays in an age of technology? The plethora of ambitions most often remain famished because of several reasons— known or unknown. There are various technological tools, which though can enhance English language teaching in rural areas, often have certain limitations. An English teacher’s task in a rural area becomes more intimidating because of certain shortcomings on his part. While the syllabus makers are least bothered about the teacher’s predicament, the teacher himself feels responsible for the poor products that are been produced over the years. The various limitations like course completion, successful implementation of government’s schemes, lack of autonomy and lack of exposure add to his agony.

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