Surat is a port city in the state of Gujarat situated on the banks of the Tapti river, in central India.
Surat is one of the largest and most populous cities in India. It is the administrative capital of the Surat District, the 2nd largest city in the state of Gujarat, and the 8th Metro city of India.
Gujarati is the main language spoken in Surat and the Surat district. It is an Indo-Aryan language, and part of the greater Indo-European language family. Overall there are about 46.1 million speakers of Gujarati worldwide, making it the 26th most spoken native language in the world.
Out of 80 millions Indians who use English in their daily life most use Indlish or Hinglish not English.
Indlish or Hinglish is a hotchpotch of the many languages and dialects spoken in India mixed with colonial English. It consists of mistranslated expressions from Indian languages; a khichri of officialese, legalese and commercialese of the eighteenth century; meaningless fad coinages; vague abstractions; automatic expressions; the use of nouns instead of verbs; un-English use of the passive voice, etc.
Recently, the Surat District Primary Education Officer (DPEO) has ordered Gujarati medium students in rural areas to observe Saturdays as English Day.
Every Saturday, the Gujarati medium students attending primary schools will be taught English words in an informal manner so that they can use these words in their regular conversations with teachers, classmates, friends and even family members.
As per the DPEO’s instructions all the schools in Surat will have to use English words in Gujarati sentences on Saturdays. The teachers have been asked to explain the meaning of common English words so that the students can use them in their conversation.
To fight the fear these students have towards speaking English, the DPEO prepared a book consisting of English words and jokes, and distributed it among 8,000 teachers in 1,000 schools. Among other sentences in the book are “Chalo ahin sitdown thai jao, hun home jaoo chhun, Mummy breakfast ready kari de, Mummy mare bathroom ma jawanu chhe”.
Teachers will have to go through these books, which also explain how to teach English words to the students. Not only the students but teachers and principals will also have to use English words in their conversation on Saturdays.
According to DPEO’s representatives, with primary education being the foundation of higher education in India, it was important to find a way to encourage Gujarati medium students to speak English. The best way to do that was to introduce a fun element in the English learning process. The DPEO believes their book and the mandatory English speaking on Saturdays fulfills this criteria. In the words of one of their representatives: “This will help the students use English words and later on, develop these words into sentences.”
Does this sound like fun to you? Is this the right way to go about it? Will this encourage more Indlish rather than English? The question is open for debate.