A hundred years ago March 5, 1920 Archives

Our Education and the Study of English.

(By Mr. P. K. Anantanarayana Iyer M.A. L.T.)

Among the beneficial results that have accrued as the consequence of India’s contact with England, the study of English language and literature should be assigned a very big place. It opened up to us a new world of thought and feeling of the freedom loving western mind, which led to a new outlook upon life and its varied problems. It inspired our young and ardent minds to new forms of literary creation and roused a healthy enthusiasm for social and political ideals of a liberal kind. It has afforded articulate India a common press and platform and has been the means of bringing us into close touch with the outside world in trade and commerce and in the fields of scientific research and industry. That most of the educated Indians have received a bilingual education has been fruitful of immense good in the past. At what stage should the study of English commence? It can be laid down as a sound principle that a child should be introduced to the study of a foreign language only after it has received a good training in the use of mother tongue, at least for the first four or five years at school. If English is begun when the children are about ten years old, they would be able to pick it up easily without feeling any strain upon their tender minds.

The Direct Method.

The use of the Direct Method has been strongly advocated by many educationists and linguists to facilitate the study of a foreign language like English. That method has certain advantages especially in the early stages and in small classes. But faddists have carried it to extreme degrees of absurdity. To say that there are enthusiastic champions of the direct method like the teacher who, in trying to show the significance of the word `knock’ actually brought his zealous cranium into violent contact with the unsympathetic wall, is not a mere fantastic assertion. To such blind followers of a useful method we might reply in the words of Hazlitt applied in a different connection that the use of the vernacular will not bite them. Whenever it is necessary and useful, the translation method might and even should be safely employed to supplement the other method at all stages.

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