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Teaching English for the World of Work
September 16, 2010
Present State of Affairs of Teaching ESL

ESL takes many ?avatars?* as the situation warrants. It is also a vulnerable area of attack for anyone having even the slightest exposure to the academic domain. Committees and Commissions visiting institutions to assess or to accredit them for their vision and mission renderings, turn their glance first to the Department of ESL. This has been the tale told for several decades; still the quality of teaching ESL hangs in the void. As teachers of a foreign/second language, we are aware of the implicit reasons for this sad state of affairs. Teaching ESL and ELT have been receiving the shocks periodically from the administrators and in spite of them remains in form without losing its elasticity. The instructors of ESL face ground realties and search for solutions. If at all remedies are to evolve, they should happen only from this appellate body of instructors and not from the so called policy makers. When this fact is realized and accepted, innovations are made academically viable, and we can gainsay that the situation will improve fast. We proceed hoping that the greener pastures will be closer to our visionary gleam at least in the near future.


Different forms of English Language Teaching

  • There is difference between the English of the classroom (EAP) and the English spoken socially.
  • There is difference between the English of the common situations and the English meant for special occasions (ESP)
  • There is difference between the English of the surrounding world and the world of employment (EOP)

ESL and ELT are comprehensive terms bringing all these necessary and vital aspects under one umbrella. One cannot neither be avoided nor belittled for the sake of the other. If it is done with subjective gains and fancies, a compulsion will arise soon for the youngster to find ways of compensating the loss later. ESL is very closely associated with life skills. When teaching and learning of these life skills becomes part of the classroom experience, the academic stream of thinking itself gets voluntarily purified.

All of us should be clear about a particular goal. The ultimate aim of college education is to seek a career. The days are gone when English was learnt for fun and as a status symbol. ESL is to be looked at as a ladder that helps youngsters in the world of work. Tertiary education offers impeccable training of the subject. Yardsticks have been standardized; methodologies are framed with common aims. But the ways of communication, the modes of communication and the medium of communication are the matters of worry for educationists. It is also the worry of the youngsters and the parents because it has become an inseparable part of career management.

Hence the common understanding is that there is need to strengthen ELT and ESL and it is to be taught with a goal and purpose right from high school education and this becomes the need of the hour without any choice. In addition, globalization and liberalized economy warrants specialized ways of handling English language; the needs are matters of survival in the developing nations, India not being an exception.


The Framing of the Syllabus

The syllabus of ESL and ELT is to be a master product of instructors and not the hobby of administrators. Theories should stand the test of time and they are to be authenticated only by the experienced instructors. These days teaching English is coming under ?no man?s area?, anyone with a little exposure is tempted to become an instructor, forgetting that it involves specialized teaching.

Hence, the suggestion for effective teaching of English for the world of work is proposed in two packages and the packages should necessarily be the components of teaching ESL and ELT
One is for the career placement:
?English of the Résumé? and ?English for Interview Skills? are the two major components of this section.

The second part aims at creating a healthy job environment:
English of the Workplace includes preparing announcements, Maintaining minutes, Preparing an agenda, Speaking with language culture (manners, different ways of saying, seeking permission, debating, disagreeing
. etc.). These two packages should compulsorily be the basis of any curriculum designing and syllabus framing.


Situations will be constructive and mutually beneficial to the anxious learners when the target is fixed before the teaching process starts. Then the effort will be total and the outcome will be fruitful.

* avatar ? totally different and shocking role (neologism)

About the Author

Dr. V. Prakash is in English Language Teaching for the past 32 years and now heads the department of English in Sacred Heart College in Tamilnadu, India.