English, English, English… English everywhere!
There are countless numbers of meaningful meetings and conferences that have become meaningless because of the lack of commonsense and foresight. Sometimes, the necessity to prove one’s worth to others or to the world makes one to take adverse steps by not heeding the warning signs and making one vulnerable to mistakes and sometimes blunders. I remember an incident that so rightly pops into my mind. It was a national level conference for English Teachers and Professors. Faculty members had come from all parts of the country. The event started on a positive note, with a couple of native speakers contributing to the richness and purpose of the meeting. Then came the time for paper presentations by the participants. They all talked about the necessity of changing the pattern of education followed in colleges in India. One must’ve heard them talk to believe that they really talked so. Such was the quality of their language that Shakespeare would have become Othello himself and Dr. Johnson would never have compiled his great initiative work. One cringed as one listened to the meaningless chatter that emanated from the mouth of the people who presented. To think that they were English Teachers was something incomprehensible. It would be a miracle if students could learn The Language from them. Aren’t teachers of English supposed to be grammatically correct while conversing in English? Isn’t that a common requirement? Where has the Quality of English Teachers gone? Isn’t it a crying shame that there are many teachers of the English Language who cannot speak in the same language confidently without mistakes? They then become the butt of all jokes inside and outside the college campus and end up blaming the Management or the Quality of students and finally retire from their respectable positions in colleges and universities signalling a grinding halt to their miserable, fruitless life. There was a workshop given by an Associate Professor of English. God only knows how she became one, and of all surprises how she was chosen to be the resource person on that day, fateful for lovers of English. The Associate Professor did not know proper English, had no clue as to the use of a microphone and to top it all, she thought that she was doing a wonderful job as a speaker. The last point was evident from the manner in which she strutted around. Where, I ask, is the quality that is required now? Can’t colleges and universities recruit candidates who know how to talk in English? Can’t they take in someone who can deliver more than what the students need? Are there not people who can make a crowd swoon by their language skills? Why can’t they be employed? Pay them well, I say, and retain them.Where did we go wrong? Where are we going wrong now? It is not the educational system. It is the lack of fire inside individuals. It is the case of people going to a job just for the sake of working. There is no heart in the subject, no love for the subject and practically no interest whatsoever. The change that needs to be implemented is the one that needs to happen within the teachers, not with some system that everyone blames. The Teacher must change, lead from the front and make the students fall in love with the subject and inspire them to follow him/her. Till that happens, many more farce presentations and conferences will continue to happen and I too will be lingering around, hoping to catch glimpse of one or two people talking in a way that would make English Language Teachers proud.