Germany considers scrapping English lessons

The Telegraph, UK reports the move in Germany to stop teaching English to children below 11 years of age:

The country is among many in the world which adopted the mantra of 'the earlier the better' when it came to teaching pupils English.

Poor marks in the international Pisa studies of educational prowess in recent years gave even more urgency to start English lessons – in some cases for children aged as young as four.

But research by the Catholic University of Eichstaett has thrown the educational authorities into confusion. An unpublished study of schoolteachers shows that 95 per cent of sixth formers who had primary school English lessons were no better at the language than children who did not.

Two thirds of the teachers consider English instruction before the age of 11 "completely redundant." "The effect of primary school English is completely nil," said Wolfgang Klein, director of the Max Planck Institute for Linguistics in the neighbouring Netherlands.

Teachers reported in the study that very young children learned many words, but not the grammar to string them together properly.

Researchers said political pressure from Berlin and the EU drove schools to adopt English for children who hadn't properly learned their own mother tongue.

Often teachers have only a basic grasp of the English they are teaching their pupils, the study found.

Germany's 16 individual states are to consider the impact of the Eichstaett study and decide whether to improve the programme for teaching very young children or scrap it altogether.

Germany's move is based on the fact that they have a decent German-medium education system in place - a system in which English is unnecessary for children. Unlike us, Germany is a land of people who don't commit cultural suicide at every given opportunity.

The question is - is Karnataka in a position to follow suit? Make no mistake. The answer is "Not yet, but we need to work towards it."

Although linguistically Kannada is more distant than German from English, we have built a stupid system which negates the importance of Kannada itself in education. This has to be set right first. The Kannada medium education system needs to come up to speed first - as much to speed as German schools in Germany are - before we make the move to drop English from school syllabi.

But why are we speaking up about this when popular English-media rhetoric is to drop Kannada from schools, not English (because our intelligentsia unintelligently considers English as the raw material for success in a Globalized world)? Because popular rhetoric is wrong. And we must set right wrongs for Kannadigas to march into the next century.

For the story in The Telegraph, go to: Germany considers scrapping English lessons


ajja said...

Stop teaching the stupid Handi Language, that should suffice to bring down the stress level of the kids...English is required for a living.

Satish said...

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Jai Veerupaksha said...

Great article and great message.

Jai Veerupaksha said...

If and only if we have a strong Political outfit with spine in Karnataka, certain changes can definitely be brought about :

For starters ,Identify exemplarily run Kannada medium Schools and provide visibility to them in mass media. Also tremendous publicity needs to be provided to achievers from these Schools who have gone on to achieve big things in life.

If required collaborate with some US/German University to do a study on how Kannada educated children are more creative or innovative and so on. This unfortunately is the way out in India in the medium term.Remember Tamils' case for classical language was supported with all such reports ( I'm not a whole hearted supporter of such an approach but would recommend it for the short term)

In the medium term,Improve the pedagogy and pump in funds towards improving the infrastructure in these Kannada medium Schools.Imbibe best practices in teaching from non English speaking countries like Japan/Germany.

Make education in Kannada unique and fashionable.Money would n't be a problem once the branding improves.

Till a complete turnaround happens,ensure kids passing out from such Kannada medium Schools also get the benefit of English as an additional language.This is to ensure that the sacrifice required is minimum in case the environment around has continued to remain insensitive to raw or genuine talent.

In the long run, start fundamental research in Kannada related to those issues that are really relevant for Karnataka .

This entire exercise is entirely possible but calls for a lot of sacrifices of an entire generation of Kannadigas,but as they say their is no gain without pain but it is a choice that each one of us have to make now!!

nesara said...

Kannada language is not used or promoted as much as should it be. Kannada should be present in all walks of life and then jobs will be created in the case. once that happens Kannada educatiion becomes a must. enough of obsession with English and Hindi.

Kannadiga said...

we should have done it earlier during the division of states
we are lost in the system and reached a point where it almost takes a fight with the central govt. to do all this.
now the question is are our politicians daring enough to face central government and slash them with the whips of kannada ??
is karnataka government as strong as kongati government ?

first nammorige buddhi barbeku
jai bhuvaneshwari anta helkondu english nalli matadtirtare

Ragavendra said...

My test lead in Mexico writes in Spanish to his colleague in a mail. ಆತರ ನಾವು ಯಾವಾಗ ಬರಿಯೋಧು. Use simple kannada to encourage it. Don't make kannada look like computer motherboard.

Raghu said...

I have seen that too. I work in a french company and the newsletters come in French & english. I see 2 version of the email floating all the time.
This state can be brought about 10-15 years. Unity is the solution. Keep doing that good work of creating awareness amongst Kannadgias and we can get there.

ajayshyam said...

Its good to create awareness about the state of affairs in Europe & Japan. But these countries have one & only one language to speak, drink, eat & sleep.We can't compare the situation to India. Reasons:
1) They are developed countries & so don't need English to help build their economy.
2) India, being a multi-cultural & multi-lingual nation & also a developing country, has to make a compromise between the country & the states. Each state is dependent on the other in many ways, & we should not try to create mini countries within India itself. The need of the hour is economic growth & poverty removal.
I am working in Dubai since 3 yrs & its a fact here that most expatriates don't learn Arabic here & English is the dominant language which is not original to any of the expatriates except British. And this country hasnt made it mandatory to learn or speak Arabic.
You guys are doing a great job, but lets also keep in mind that Raj Thackerys of India are Enemy No.1 for India.

Clangorous said...

@ ajayshyam,
Why dont we try to think the other way round ?... Those countries are developed because they did everything through their mothertongues...We are still a developing country since we are still slaves to English which is not an Indian Language...

I am not saying.. not to learn English.. it does help in interactions between different states .. but each state should build a strong economy based on it roots and cultures. For a country like Japan which was bombed by the US.. it didnt take too long to bounce back... Israel which came in to existence in the 20th century chose Hebrew as its language for development.. look at where they are now.. they have the top most technology... I can go on giving examples of Germany, Russia etc etc who have advanced in technology not following prey to English..

We Indians still seem to be of the opinion whatever Macaulay enforced on us is the best...

Coming to your own point .. if Dubai has not made it mandatory to learn Arabic.. why is India forcing down Hindi upon non-hindian states.. ?

Protecting ones right of celebrating their own culture, language and traditions is in no way enemy to the idea of India cause even Kannada Culture/Marathi culture or for that matter any non-hindian culture is equally Indian whereas forcing down one culture/language i.e Hindi upon people who have their own language/culture is against the very idea of Democracy/India.

sandhya said...


U say: "Each state is dependent on the other in many ways, & we should not try to create mini countries within India itself."

What do you mean when you say we should not create?? Its already there in existence right from 2 to 3 thousand years. The fact that India has so many languages and a culture associated with each language and sub language is a proof to how prosperous and rich India was. Numerous languages had developed cos ppl had to communicate less with farther regions as everythin was available within their reach.
I am not sayin now Indian states are not interdependent. Its just that few states suffering from bad politicians are burdening other states. And states like Karnataka must do enough to protect their culture and language. Just think what will be left of India if there will be just one language. India is what it is due to its diversity. Even if one language is lost, an entire culture associated with that will be lost. Its basic human right to protect what is ours and what has been passed on to us from our anscestors from thousands of years.
Do you not see the problem that Karnataka and Kannadigas have to face due to hindi imposition here? The Indian government is not trying to let us live with our language, but creating a system in which one is being forced to learn hindi in place of english. What use or atleast how is hindi any different to Kannadiga than english?
Finally everything boils down to economical growth and more than anything self respect.

Anjali said...
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