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Since independence, the national policy in India has been to require education in three languages: English, Hindi, and the local state language. Over the years, as the medium of instruction in schools and colleges shifted to local languages, less emphasis was given to English. Currently, English classes usually begin in the fifth grade, with English essentially taught as a foreign language. As a result, students today often enter state colleges with a low level of English.

At the college level, English language instruction continues to be largely content based rather than skills based, in spite of attempted reforms by both university and state bodies. Class sizes are large (60 to 100 students), which makes practice in listening and speaking skills difficult. Outside of classes, students, especially in the rural areas, may have little exposure to English language. Furthermore, apart from a required orientation course and occasional refresher courses, English lecturers generally have little or no training in modern teaching methodologies. The result is that even after attending ten or more years of English classes, students often graduate from Government colleges with a dire lack of basic communicative skills in English.


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