Lack of English Language Development is a common challenge faced by many schools today. Be it IGCSE, CBSE, ICSE, or even State Board, administrators are keen on improving the overall communication skills in the school. As the world gets increasingly interconnected, the dominance of English as a Lingua Franca continues unabated. MNCs throughout the world are not just looking for someone with ideas, but persons who can express and articulate themselves on a Global Stage.
The Language Divide.
Even though India is a former colony of the British Empire, the lack of permeation of English language education meant that only the top 3-4% of the population learnt the language well. Over the decades, learning English skills was part of a strong academic push. Yet even though we have English as a compulsory subject in every board, why is it that students are graduating with poor English Skills. Only those schools where the general environment is of English, have students graduating with good English proficiency. The rest are left to fend for themselves through a haze of online learning and content. The problem in itself is systemic and requires a change in approach towards Teaching English.
The English Advantage acknowledges this gap in English Literacy among students and seeks to plug it using a skills-based solution through international English Language Assessments like Cambridge English Qualifications or LanguageCert IESOL. These assessments test student’s comprehension and use of the language rather than just comprehension. These assessments are standardized as they benchmark candidates from Pre-A1 to C2 based on the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR)
Such a response serves to target level appropriate LSRW skills. It aims to achieve actual communicative competence where students are encouraged to use English for real communication purposes. It uses a Task-Based learning approach that requires the students to engage in real world tasks. A skills-based curriculum is student-centered that facilitates learner autonomy creating a mindset of lifelong learning. It equips the students with tools and strategies to continue improving their English skills beyond the classroom. Authentic materials play a central role in such a curriculum, as they help develop language skills in context and enhances the student’s cultural understanding.
The skills-based curriculum provides continuous opportunities for assessment and timely feedback by the trainer. This helps to identify areas of improvement and tailor instructions accordingly. In addition to this, this kind of a curriculum not only focuses on English language skills but allows the trainer to help develop transferable skills like Critical Thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, and problem-solving. These skills are highly valued in both academic and professional settings.
Contrary to popular notion, just having a BA in English or even sometimes a B.Ed in English isn’t enough to be a Language teacher. Special English Language Teaching (ELT) Qualifications like TKT/CELTA from Cambridge or Cert.TESOL from Trinity College London are a must for a prospective trainer. Along with a teaching qualification, Trainers should also have taken a Language Assessment to prove their English language skills. The English Advantages prides itself in having qualified English Language Trainers who can successfully deliver such a curriculum.
Complementing the School Curriculum
An English skills-based curriculum helps improve the overall English language proficiency of the school. Students in schools come from diverse backgrounds. Most are either second or even first generation learners of English. Such an intervention will help bridge the gap between the various levels of students in the classroom. It provides the necessary scaffolding to the students to build their language skills on par with their peers.
All subjects in the school are usually in English. For a holistic education, students should not just memorize content, they need to comprehend, evaluate, and express themselves in a clear manner. For this they need to develop essential Language skills that are very well aided by a skills-based curriculum. The programme aligns with the Indian Education System to help them develop the necessary skills and strategies to perform well at the examinations.
Schools dedicate an hour per week per class for English Language Skills Development that allows them to successfully implement this programme throughout most of the grades.
All in all, complementing school education with a skill-based English Language programme offered by likes of The English Advantage, where the students can receive targeted support, develop strong language skills, and develop their overall communication abilities. This will see a boost in the average academic performance of the students and also enhance their social interactions.