CHENNAI: Correcting spelling and grammatical mistakes shown by wiggly red and green lines in typed-out essays is common for Apoorva R, a college student who relies on computer more than the years of English she learnt at school. “It’s much simpler to learn this way, I don’t have to spend time learning grammar with Wren and Martin,” she says.
As students concentrate more on scoring high marks in Science and Maths — the subjects that are considered during medical and engineering admission — their language skills, particularly English, has fallen far behind, warn educators. While this may help them secure a professional seat, it could pose an issue in future when their employability becomes a concern due to lack of communication skills.
Consider for instance, the top performers in the medical/engineering ranking, counselling for which is now underway. The first rank holder in Tamil Nadu medical admissions rank list came at a rather low 191 rank overall. The same trend is observed among other toppers. They seem to have given attention to only those subjects that are considered for admissions to professional courses.
“This develops nonchalance towards the languages. Maths and science go only as far as the admissions are concerned. A substantial knowledge of English and fairly good communication skills are needed from then on,” says Chitra A, an English teacher.
The standard of English is deteriorating, students are finding it increasingly difficult to comprehend simple grammar questions and they also lack interest. “For professional courses, importance is not given to their English score, hence the indifference. Little do the students realise that English is actually necessary in all stages of life,” she complains.
While there is additional pressure on students to score high in core subjects in classes XI and XII, experienced teachers say that English is not viewed seriously even in lower classes. Hence the proficiency in the language, especially among those from matriculation and state board schools, is well below par.
Vasanthi R, a tuition teacher with nearly two decades of experience, attributes it to inconsistent work and last-minute cramming of grammar. “The children are given very few exercises on grammar and composition. Occasionally, they are given question papers to solve at school but that doesn’t help much. It’s just mechanical reading and reproducing that fetches these kids some marks, and they are happy with it,” she says.
Blaming the mark-driven approach to studying, she adds that the urge to develop the language is missing among students these days. “Just a day before the exams, these kids come to me with exercises and look for short-cut to remember answers. This helps them score marks and after that, everything is forgotten. I do my best to develop their language. If I don’t, these kids will grow up to be professionals with strong technically skills, but inept in communicating well,” she concluded.