The significance of English in the modern world isundeniable. Its importance is not confined to professionals and students solelybut it is also very essential for any layman. It is due to the immenseimportance of this language that it is being taught as a compulsory subject inall institutions up to graduation level.
We, being, a developing country andhaving faced British colonialism still think that English is synonymous todevelopment and progress, which is true to an extent. In our circle, Englishhas been declared a symbol that approves your literacy. It is heart-rending tosee that many capable people are left behind in our coterie just because theylack good understanding ability and speaking skills in English. This is why theparents nowadays are extremely concerned to make their children highlyproficient in English. All the parents now try to send their children toEnglish-medium schools where they are exposed to English language in a veryearly age which is due to the belief that the earlier a child is exposed to thelanguage, the earlier he learns it and more fluent he becomes in it.
This hasalso led the parents to pour English along with the mother tongue in the rawminds of their kids in a mere age of 1-4 which has been classified as thecritical age of a child. This research analyzes the policy of exposingsimultaneously to the mother tongue and English in his critical period and howit affects the abilities of the child and his understanding of both thelanguages. Using multiple research tools such as a questionnaire survey,classroom observation and interviews with professionals, the research deducesthat the exposure of both the languages by parents and schools in a very earlyage leaves them inept and incompetent in both of them and they don’t grasp evena single one of them well. Moreover, this attitude will bring our mother tonguecloser to extinction.
This brought us to the conclusion that the policy ofexposing a child to more than a single language in the critical period of hisage would surely decrease his language learning abilities. 1.1INTRODUCTIONA child’s learning capacity is at its maximum in hiscritical period i.e. (1 to 4 years in normal cases).
So it is often thoughtthat exposing the child to multiple things and languages in his critical agewill lead him to quickly grasp them. Since English is viewed as a “passport” topower, prestige and an array of social, economic and cultural goodies soparents find it suitable for their child to pour all the languagesconcomitantly in the critical period, as the mind is functioning at its best,because they think that this will give him more exposure to languages at anearly age and enhance his vocabulary and understanding of the language. This iswhy now most of the schools in Pakistan are being established as English mediumdue to increasing demand for English-medium education, motivated by bothnational as well as global imperatives, and mother tongue based learning isdeclining at an exponential rate. However, the survey we conducted and to ourobservations it proved highly counterproductive because it diminished theabilities of a child to a great extent. The interviews of the linguisticprofessionals suggested that a strong grip on a certain tongue is what isrequired to learn other languages but the scenario, we were presented with wastotally opposite to it and we observed highly discouraging results.
Thethumping of more than one language at a time, at an age when the child was noteven familiar with his mother tongue, led to confusion which made him inept inboth of the languages. Educating the child in his critical years by keepingprimary focus on mother tongue showed many benefits such as the level ofliteracy and competence acquired in the mother tongue reinforces faster andbetter development of additional second, third or more languages. Moreover, itresults in better academic and overall intellectual development.In this research paper, the backdrop oflanguage-in-education policy in Pakistan is given, followed by context,methodologies, surveys, observations, data analysis and conclusion. Taking intoaccount multi-lingual and multi-ethnic background of our society, Englishteaching pedagogies and the school infrastructure, the terminal part of ourresearch suggests how to make refinements in our policies so as to keep thechildren fluent in both the languages without neglecting any of them. 1.
2LANGUAGE POLICIES AND CRITICAL ISSUESLanguage plays a central role in the process of learning andthe achievement of educational pursuits. Besides being a means of communicationand of access to education, language is also the marker of identity.Pakistanis a multilingual country.
For complex historical reasons, the nationallanguage of Pakistan is the mother tongue of a minority of the population. Urduis the official language of the country and is used extensively in urban areas.It is also the language of government schools. However, according to the 1998Census of Pakistan, Urdu is the mother tongue of fewer than 8% of thepopulation.
Childrenlearning in Urdu as a second language face major obstacles, particularly intheir early years, which can range from slower progress in reading and writingto lack of support from parents who also struggle with Urdu. Englishremains the preserve of the country’s elite minority who are educated privatelyin English-medium schools and who can make an easy transition intoEnglish-medium higher education and higher-paid government jobs that requireEnglish-language qualifications.Currentgovernment strategy seeks to widen access to these English-only social strataby improving the quality of English teaching in state schools. Yet theprovision of effective teaching and materials has been uneven, with the resultthat the majority of learners are failing to make even basic progress inEnglish.Urduhas always been at the top most priority of education policy makers of thecountry contributing to the negligence of other local languages which isreferred as ‘dilemma’ of educational policy sector by our modern day scholars.The language policy of Pakistan is still an unsettled matter as there has beena total of 22 reports and policy documents on language and education policy inPakistan but no efforts are made for the fulfillment of the objectives setforth by the policy documents as there is a gap between the policy and itsimplementation, as fulfillment requires continuous and pragmatic approach.Themost recent educational policy (2009) recommended a multi-lingual educationalsystem as English, Urdu and one regional language (mother tongue) shall be madea part of the curriculum till primary–level , from their English shall be madeas a medium of instruction for sciences and mathematics.
The policy provided agreat opportunity for the people to develop rich personality contributing tothe promotion and perseverance of culture but unfortunately it was notimplemented well resulting negligence of domestic languages.Thefollowing chart shows languages spoken in the country.Butthis is completely contrary to the medium of instructions adopted by differenteducational institutions of the country as shown below. Hencethe educational policy of Pakistan is facing a serious crisis over the past fewyears regarding the medium of instructions, the countries adopting policy ofbilingualism during a child critical period (teaching both the English andmother tongue) are getting well along in all walks of life, as the children islearning most of his/her culture along with a tool to cope with outside world. 1.4CONTEXT English is usedin the domains of power such as government, education, law, corporate sector,research, and media.
The language hierarchy is based on power in which Englishstands as the most powerful; Urdu occupies the second position, while the restof the minor and major indigenous languages stand at the lowest rung in thelanguage hierarchy ladder. Urdu and English receive substantial institutional support inthe domains of power especially in education; however, the indigenous languageswith the exception of the Sindhi and to negligible degree Pashto languageremain excluded from all domains of power including education. Themedium of education policy is still an unsettled problem in Pakistan. Pakistanlike many other post-colonial countries is faced with the dilemma of languagepolicy and planning in the education sector. 1.5ADDITIVE BI/MUTILINGUAL EDUCATIONAdditivebi/multilingual education means that children should begin schooling with theirmother tongues while any second or third language may gradually be added tohis/her repertoire. It refers to the situation where a person has acquired thetwo languages in a balanced manner.
It is a strong bilingualism. Academicwriting requires conscious effort and much practice in composing, developing,and analyzing ideas. Students writing in a second language are also faced withsocial and cognitive challenges related to second language acquisition.
L1models of writing instruction and research on composing processes have been thetheoretical basis for using the process approach in L2 writing pedagogy. However,language proficiency and competence underlies the ability to write in the L2 ina fundamental way.Critical periodItis regarded as the time in which a child’s brain is sensitive to certainenvironmental stimuli and learns things very fast and efficient especially theart of language acquisition. This period is generally regarded as the sensitive period in which a child’slearning is imprinted in the subconscious brain and stays their permanentlyhence regarded defining period in achild growth span.
Many scientists are still researching on existence ofcritical period .Many of the studiesinvestigating a critical period for language acquisition have focused on deaf childrenof hearing parents. Thisperiod is generally for about first four- five years of child’s growth.1.
6DATA ANALYSISPart1: Student, Teachers and School PrincipalsDatawas collected by employing various methods which include but are not limitedto: questionnaires, interviews, observations etc. It is worth mentioning that we chose twolower-secondary/ primary schools for our visits:i) ArmyPublic Schoolii) BeaconhouseSchool SystemWewill first analyze the responses of the students in a brief manner. As expectedof them, majority of the students ranked English with greater significance andconsidered it to be a global language, whilst regarded their mother tongue as ahousehold language with little importance. We have listed some talking pointsfrom our experience:· Studentsunderstand the constantly growing trend of globalization and the sheerimportance of interpersonal skills· Inrelation to the above mentioned point, a yearn for decent English speaking andwriting skill prevails· Somestudents are in favor of additive bilingualism · Majoritysupports the application of extensive English language programs in theirschools with due stress on speaking incentivesEnglishis perceived as a ladder to better employment opportunities. The role ofEnglish in our socio-economic activities has seen a drastic increase in thepast 2-3 decades. Students are encouraged to converse in English with theirteachers and peers, activities are held in this regard i.
e. declamationcontests, spelling-bees. Wecirculated a questionnaire among students and their responses are recordedbelow:i) Mostof the students selected Urdu as their mother language and some chose othersii) Overwhelmingly,an estimated 83% voted in favor of English as the medium of education asopposed to Urduiii) Englishhas a very significant stature in the eyes of almost all studentsiv) Conversely,a little portion students responded favorably when asked how often theyconversed in English v) Thisquestion received mixed answers, with some opting to side with introducingEnglish before the critical period, and some after itvi) Eventhough most students wanted to pursue the policy of additive bilingualeducation, however a notable stress was placed on giving English superiorattentionThequestionnaire we used is displayed as follows:Research QuestionnaireTo help us build moreinformation about English language as medium of instruction; the role insocial, educational & professional aspects of our life, and its importancein a rapidly evolving global society. This study will help us understand andevaluate the existing structure of language policy. Complete the survey. Q.1 Based on your upbringing and learning, select yourfirst language.
Urdu English Other Q.2 Would you prefer English as the medium of education inPakistan as opposed to Urdu? Yes No Q.3 How would you rate the importance of English as a toolfor communication? Rate 1-10 Q.4 How often do you converse in English? Rate 1-10 Q.5 Should English beintroduced from the beginning or after the critical period? Beginning After C.P Q.6 Do you support additive bilingualism? Yes No Please add any further comments or suggestions thatyou may wish to make. ______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________Thank you for taking the time to complete ourquestionnaire.
Your input is importantto us and we value your comments and contribution.Here are some excerpts fromthe interviews of the respondents:Principal IIn my opinion, schoolsshould focus on teaching student’s English language from day one, with dueimportance to Urdu, since that will allow them to become proficient. From whatI have seen/observed, our students are left with linguistic weaknesses whichcause them to become under-confident and ultimately lag behind.
English is aglobal language and has applications in all aspects of life; hence there shouldbe no compromise in this regard. We must review our policy whilst keeping inmind the changing trends at the global stage.Principal IIBefore we ask this questionwe must assess the situation at hand. We at Beaconhouse teach Urdu and Englishparallel to each other; however English holds much more relevance in today’sdynamic environment. We must encourage proficiency. English is no longer just alanguage; it is a tool to better opportunities.
Contrarily, when we talk aboutour mother language, I do not feel the urgency to put so much emphasis on it,after all a child has aptitude in it as it is our household language. Thepolicy of additive bilingualism is indeed a viable solution.(Reference:Alif Ailan) Part2: ConclusionIt has become evident thatthe rapidly evolving trend of globalisation has had its share of impact inPakistan, especially among the youth; with English considered as theflag-bearer of this phenomenon. Through our research, we have come to anobservation; English and its pluses are seen as far more out-reaching andimpactful, whilst the quench for Urdu/mother language proficiency has declinedsharply. Moreover, the disparity in curriculum, teaching methodology, resourcesetc. is far too great between private and government run schools. This is fuelledby the lack of an over-arching authority and a clear language policy. The performanceof state owned institutions tasked with managing these affairs is questionable,with the absence of a solid resolve.
Moving on, respondent oneand two have both agreed to the policy of additive bilingualism. They haveargued that sole focus on one language is not beneficial for as students, ormembers of the society. We have also observed clear-cut deficiencies as a resultof the existing framework, children lacked proficiency in English and Urdusimultaneously. In light of theaforementioned arguments, we can conclude, that additive bilingualism iswithout doubt the most efficient solution to this language complexity, howeverwith greater emphasis on English. The applications of this global languageoutweigh all its competition. In addition, students have significant exposureto their mother languages via social interactions and household conversation. This concludes the research.