KOLKATA: IIT Kharagpur Director Prof VK Tewari on Saturday called for developing a policy framework for regional language education not only at schools but also in technical institutes so that language does not become a barrier to learning.
Adopting regional language in technical education is "a necessary long-term goal", Tewari said in his official Facebook page, lauding a decision of the Ministry of Education in this regard.
This requires teachers proficient in undertaking classes in the vernacular medium along with English, textbooks and reference materials in regional languages, besides technological assistance such as audio translation aids like those used in Indian Parliament, he said.
It has been observed that the human mind is more receptive to communication in the language in which it is accustomed to thinking from childhood, he said adding that in his four decades at IIT Kharagpur, initially as a student and later as a faculty member, teaching and learning has entirely been in English.
"The practice, I would say, continues regardless of the first language of the students and difficulties at their end in adopting to English as the primary communication language, thus disrupting the process of learning.
"But when explained in regional languages, especially mother tongue, grabbing the concepts or expression of the ideas by the students becomes fairly easy," he said.
This can be observed frequently in practical classes and labs where lab instructors often form a close relationship with students and communicate with them in the languages known by them and even some teachers adopt this approach outside the classroom, the academician said.
"Now it is to be contemplated how such practice can be institutionalized at IITs and NITs with a regionally diverse student population," Tewari said.
"The challenge of language as a barrier to the learning process needs to be critically reviewed. This would lead to the development of a policy framework for regional language education not only at schools but in higher education including technical education," he said.
Regional language hubs set up at technical institutes can bring together students requiring language aids, said the IIT Kharagpur director.
"Depending upon the composition of students from various vernacular backgrounds or those facing a challenge in English communication, and the availability of teachers with regional language proficiency, these hubs can be structured," he said.
"Let us remind ourselves that Across the globe, classroom teaching is pursued in a variety of regional languages, be it France or Germany or Russia or a country like China, which has over 300 languages and dialects with 8 of them being the major ones," Tewari said.