It is now widely agreed amongst the thought leaders of the world as evidenced at the World Economic Forum meeting in January 2016, that we are entering a stage of accelerated change in the fourth Industrial Revolution.
While newer technologies such as robotics and machine intelligence together with advances in genetics will drive the engine of the economy with innovative products, the global business system will be increasingly driven by the English Language, and it is estimated by some that about 2 billion people will be using English as a Foreign Language.
If Indian youth has to maintain its leading position shown by our alumni from IITs, BIT, and other leading Institutions, then it is clear that our young learners must leave School with English language skills at the CEFR level of C1 or above.
One clear goal of leading School education should be that all their graduating students have achieved a language skill level of C1 on the CEFR scale.
This can be implemented as a 5 year plan, for learners in classes 6 to 10. Those who miss the opportunity because they were in a higher class may continue into classes 11 and 12.
Research suggests that it takes approximately
200 guided learning hours
for a language learner to progress from one level of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) to the next. This translates to about 20 minutes per day everyday, a very desirable and doable cognitive load that is not only bearable, but also perhaps quite enjoyable.
However, there are a number of factors that can affect how long it might take a specific learner to achieve the desired level of English, including:
the existing language learning background
the design of the language learning intervention
the amount of study/exposure outside of lesson times
Personalising the learning experience is therefore crucial. As all children have mobile phones and love to use them, but they are banned within school premises, the possible model is to deliver the language skills improvement mission outside of school hours, on the mobile phone with whatsApp as the tool for social collaborative learning. This allows practice and improvement of all the 4 skills of reading, writing, listening and speaking. Continuous improvement can then lead to achieving the targetted goals.
This journey of improvement would be monitored by an ‘English Language Learning Coach’ assisted with tools such as Duolingo and practice/diagnostic tests to be able to deal with larger learning cohorts.
There is no reason to believe that groups of about 150, the Dunbar number cannot be effectively managed as a whatsApp group, which now allows upto 256 members.
Of course, as we try out the model, it would evolve and with experience we will move towards a new model of effective English Language Learning.