Does Our Education System Need To Incorporate Foreign Languages In Its Curriculum?

Posted on March 27, 2012 in Education

By Amrita Nayak-Dutta:

Like there are two sides of a coin, incorporation of any foreign language in the Indian school curriculum has its pros and cons. This however would not include English as it already is a major language in the country since Independence. If I am asked, I would be all in favor of foreign language and nowadays a lot many schools are witnessing this change in trend. We, the earlier generation, were not so lucky however.

It is a pleasure to understand prominent languages like Spanish, French, German, Japanese and Chinese today. With the ever increasing demands in the employment scenario, it is a regular affair for professionals to travel offshore for work. It is then that the individual realizes the value of knowing the local language when he wanders about places asking for a particular place and end up paying double the taxi fare. The hoarding signs around seems illegible and the person glances helplessly looking for help. If only he knew the language.

However, even if someone doesn’t travel out of his country, it is always lucrative to learn a foreign language as it opens up many career scopes in different sectors like translating jobs in different embassies, opportunities in the aviation sector as well as language teachers in language schools.

But it also has its cons as discussed earlier. Foreign languages incorporated as early as kindergarten in schools put an additional pressure on the young minds, more so because they can’t even get help from their parents due to their lack of knowledge in the subject. As a result they have to just deal with it. Also incorporating a variety of foreign languages can take away the attention that we need to pay towards the variety of languages that exists today in our country like Hindi, Bengali, Punjabi , Tamil, Marathi and so on. It seems odd to know foreign languages without knowing the languages of our own country that forms the fabric of our society.
It may be argued from a myopic vision that learning different vernacular languages of our country will not serve any purpose to the future of the students. However, if analyzed deeply, learning long lost languages like Sanskrit and Pali will open a thousand doors to the secrets of history, some of which are still undiscovered due to ignorance when it comes to the language. It would enlighten us so much about the past of our country and the world.

The idea is to keep a balance. Learning a foreign language opens many different avenues while the rich culture nurtured in Indian languages keeps us rooted. What is your opinion on it?

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