How AP is switching degree courses to English medium with 'Tenglish' lessons

The government is preparing bilingual learning resources and additional support for faculty and students, as it makes English medium compulsory in degree colleges from the coming academic year.
Two young men wearing masks and reading books in a college corridor
Two young men wearing masks and reading books in a college corridor
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The Andhra Pradesh government had decided in February that from the coming academic year, degree colleges in the state will only offer programmes in English medium, aimed at enhancing students’ career prospects. Preparations for the change are underway, with private colleges invited to apply for conversion of all non-language courses from Telugu medium to English medium by the Andhra Pradesh State Council of Higher Education (APSCHE). Simultaneously, APSCHE is also taking several steps, from creating bilingual learning material to introducing support classes and modifying exam patterns, to help students who had studied in Telugu medium till intermediate (classes 11 and 12) have a considerably smooth transition to English medium at the undergraduate level. 

According to APSCHE, in the academic year 2020-21, from a total of 2.62 lakh students who were admitted into degree colleges across the state, only 65,981 students had opted for Telugu medium (BA - 24007, BCom - 16925 and BSc - 24960). “Most of the students opting for Telugu medium hail from rural backgrounds, and attend colleges located in rural Andhra Pradesh. To enhance their employability, we mandated English medium. Nearly half the students who were in Telugu medium till Class 12 are already switching to English medium at the college level on their own,  overcoming their inhibitions. For those students who would otherwise stick to Telugu medium, we want to hand-hold them till they’re comfortable with the transition,” said Prof K Hemachandra Reddy, Chairperson of APSCHE. 

Bilingual and ‘Tenglish’ lessons

These transition measures include bilingual textbooks and other learning resources. APSCHE is publishing bilingual textbooks, where content will be published in English on one page with the Telugu translation on the adjoining page, so students who have doubts with the English content are able to figure things out on their own. These bilingual textbooks are being prepared by the APSCHE, and will be made available for all non-language courses once classes begin, Hemachandra Reddy said. 

Similar bilingual textbooks have been printed by the state government for primary classes as well, as it had planned to introduce compulsory English medium instruction in schools from classes 1 to 6. The move has been stalled as the matter is pending in the Andhra Pradesh High Court following opposition from various quarters, but the bilingual textbooks have been in use. 

Bilingual learning resources, including video lessons will also be made available for students online, with the content first explained in English and then in Telugu. “We are also preparing audio lessons in what is called Tenglish, a mix of Telugu and English, so students can slowly migrate from  Telugu to English comfortably,” he said. 

Support for faculty and students 

Apart from modifying the learning material, faculty development programmes are also being held online, to instil confidence among lecturers switching from Telugu to English medium of instruction. Moreover, apart from the usual courses, parallel English communication competence programs (akin to spoken English courses) are being prepared, of three different levels, which students can opt for to help them adjust, Hemachandra Reddy said. “Even if a student feels their English is at basic elementary school level, they can take these programs which will help them quickly adapt,” he said, adding, “Through these parallel courses, we want to give students confidence that English is not such a difficult language for anyone to follow.” 

APSCHE is also planning to reform the exam system, to replace lengthy essay answers in English with brief critical analysis in a few short sentences at initial stages, to make students comfortable, the Chairperson said. The curriculum for degree students has also been revised to have ten months of mandatory apprenticeship or internship as part of their course, and 30% of the revised curriculum will consist of skilled oriented programs. This is also part of the steps taken to improve students’ job prospects. 

The switch to English medium will happen for all non-language courses starting from the academic year 2021-22. Students who have already started their courses in previous years will be allowed to continue in Telugu. The step to mandate English medium in all private and government degree colleges was taken to improve employability of students, the government had said, citing findings of the India Skills Report of 2019 which found that the English language was among among the top three skills, along with learning agility and adaptability, that employers in India look out for.  

The government had also cited a 2016 Cambridge University report titled ‘Findings of English at Work: Global analysis of language skills in the workplace’ which found that about 90% of employers in India said English language skills were important for their organisation. Students will also have an advantage in the public sector recruitment process, as selections held through UPSC, APPSC (Andhra Pradesh Public Service Commission), SSC (Staff Selection Committee), BSRB (Banking Service Recruitment Board) SSC all test language proficiency as well. 

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