Which Medium of Instruction Is Better

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Why English should not be the medium of instruction in India

In India, one erectile dysfunction for which a miraculousAyurvedic or Unanni cure is not peddled in Technicolor over all media is of hackles. For the good reason that they are always up. That is a required genetic trait for our television anchors and they compensate for nature's oversight in this regard for the rest of the population. So a new outrage cannot make hackles rise, it can make only make them bristlle. Say anything against English, and they not only bristle but also positively come shooting off the snarling mass of the enraged, like quills from a porcupine.

I have no desire to turn into a man-eater, as many leopards in India have, after being maimed by porcupine quills. I hasten to clarify that this column is not against English. I am all for English and for Indians learning it across the board. But I am decidedly against English increasingly being preferred as the medium of instruction in schools.

In January, Swaminathan Anklesaria Aiyar cited, in a column in the Times of India, research findings from those who study cognition to argue against teaching English in Class 1. The easiest language to learn for all human infants is the language they hear spoken at home, the mother tongue. When children who do not hear even a smattering of English at home are taught English in their first year of schooling, their entire learning process is impaired. If they learn to read their mother tongue first, and then learn English, they learn both languages much better. This is just about teaching English. It can be imagined that teaching maths or science or history through English would be even more disastrous. Kids end up learning by rote, not understanding a thing. They pass their exams all right, but end up unemployable graduates, their native capacity to learn damaged for ever, and their creative faculties crippled. This is a tremendous loss, both at the individual level and at the level of...
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