My first formal introduction to English Language began when I was admitted in my primary school located in the heart of the village I was born. My parents had escaped from Tibet due to the Chinese occupation of my country. They gave birth to me in that small Tibetan colony. It was back in early 70’s. I had a vague knowledge of my English teacher. She was a Tibetan lady, same as me having small eyes, dark hair and hardworking. I put my first step into learning the disassociated words like the 26 alphabets and some registers of English. I would be very happy when I was able to narrate all the alphabets and words given by the teacher then. When I went back home, my parents were illiterate and as such could not give much input. Some students who were better would narrate the alphabets backwards. There was a textbook too. English was taught with same importance given to the mother tongue. That was how people of that generation had been taught.
Gradually I moved from primary to secondary and secondary to senior secondary.
All the schools I had attended were English medium schools. All the textbooks we had used in all these classes were NCERT publications. I remember mugging up the textbook exercises then. The one that comes in mind even today is, “Where did Ramalinga live? Ramalinga lived in the kingdom of Vijayanagar”. The teacher would translate line by line what was written in the textbook. Grammar was taught in total isolation. There was very little or nothing when I remembered talking and discussing with my peers in the class then. I really didn’t know how my English was then but what I could guess was I might be good for the fact that I cleared all the subjects related to English like Social, Science, math etc. apart from Tibetan subject. If I had faced problem in English, then I would have faced the same problem in all non Tibetan subjects!
During the time of my schooling especially when it comes to English language which was my second language in early 80, there wasn’t much changes or development in the ESL I guess. The methods used by the teachers were mostly Direct Translation, Grammar Translation etc. There was a great role of rote learning. I don’t remember my teachers attending workshops like us. There were very few native speakers as well as people who speak English language. But whatever we had learnt that time had helped a lot because the basics of English were taught whether we had understood or not that time. English at time, when I look back was taught only for academic purposes and not on the basis of Inter-personal communication. The teachers were very hard working and would do all they could. That was how they had been taught to teach that time.
I finished my +2 in 1990. Some of my class mates were very good in English. They had already started reading novels and could understand well. I was still very good. I remember my brother complaining about my poor English. I really didn’t understand why there was much difference. Today I realize it was because of the interest and the awakening. I was not that much awakened and I didn’t feel the necessary that time. Even after completing my schools, I felt uncomfortable speaking.
Gradually, I graduated and became English teacher. And today the children are taught by me in a total different way which was not the way I had learnt when I was a student myself. I got exposed to many native speakers and faced the real language in my life. I studied English with lots of interest as it was my profession. So, I studied with reason so that I could answer my students’ queries. After attending language teaching, B.Ed, reading, attending workshops, I came to know various methods of teaching English. I made myself aware of various methodologies related to teaching of English. I realize that English can be better learnt in real life context.
Over the decades, lots of revolutions had taken place in the field of learning especially English language. The research in the field of teaching English is still going on and the learning process has no end. Teachers are also introduced to various updates about teaching of English. Today my students are more exposed to English language outside their classrooms.
Most of my grammar and linguistics were learnt in the school but the speaking and reading were learnt outside my class room when I mingled into real world. The method of teaching was not refined during the time of schooling.