Foreign Languages ​​in Punjab Public Schools: Mandarin Class Still Born, First Batch of Teachers Ready to Test Japanese Skills

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Punjab education department officials have taken with a pinch of salt Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh’s suggestion to offer a foreign language course as an optional subject in public schools. They cite how a similar announcement made in 2018 for Mandarin education in public schools failed to take off.

Amarinder on Thursday asked the state education department to consider teaching foreign languages, such as Chinese, Arabic and French, in schools to help improve students’ chances of employability. in the world.

“In 2018, after CM asked officials to start teaching Mandarin as an optional subject, we tried our best but couldn’t get enough qualified instructors. We contacted several universities and even private coaching centers looking for qualified teachers, but the project just couldn’t get off the ground,” said a senior official from the Punjab State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT).

In a positive development, meanwhile, the first group of teachers, whom the government started training in the Japanese language last year as part of its skills development mission, are expected to take the language proficiency test. Japanese (JLPT) to qualify as “master trainers”.

However, indicating that learning a foreign language can sometimes be a tedious task, the number of teachers enrolled in the course has been cut in half in almost a year.

Expecting major investments from Japanese companies under its Invest Punjab program, the state government began training Japanese language teachers in July last year with the first batch of 35 Gradually, 20 of them withdrew.

“Fifteen teachers will complete their Japanese language training in July and then report to the JLPT. After passing the JLPT, these “master trainers” can train 25 candidates each and they will then become eligible for jobs offered by Japanese companies. As most of them are government teachers, it is the prerogative of the education department to see if they can also teach Japanese to students,” said Swati Thakur, Project Coordinator, Punjab Skill Development Mission, adding that an instructor has been arranged to teach. Japanese to teachers through online courses.

Kanwaljeet Singh, a computer teacher who trained in Japanese, says: “Additional qualification is always welcome. We were taught to write, speak and listen in Japanese, just like preparing for IELTS. We have not yet been told what our next role will be after completing this course.

Clarifying the reasons why so many teachers opted out of the training, Thakur said, “Learning Japanese takes time and dedicated effort. Some left because they felt overwhelmed with their other professional duties; some struggled to learn the new language and some were down with Covid as well.

Meanwhile, Chinese and French experts say the government has taken a step in the right direction by deciding to offer foreign languages ​​as an optional subject.

Cecilia Antony, Coordinator and Professor, Department of French and Francophone Studies, Panjab University, Chandigarh, said that learning French would not only be very beneficial for students, but could also create employment opportunities for French trainers qualified.

“Some central government schools offer German and the experience has been very successful. Instead of partnering with private institutes, the government should consider hiring its own French teachers. Students who are not very good in English can also succeed in French. Many students from Punjab go abroad, especially to Canada, and French is also very valuable there. French is the official language of the province of Quebec in Canada. Many students from the region pursue graduate studies and a doctorate in French at PU, which can be another career field,” said Antony.

Vijay Kumar Singh, chairman of UP’s Chinese and Tibetan languages ​​department, called the government’s decision a “good move”, but recruiting qualified Chinese instructors could be a problem. “In our department, we currently only have one teacher who can teach Chinese. It is difficult to say how many qualified Chinese teachers there are in Punjab,” said Tibetan scholar Singh.

Meanwhile, Punjab School Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla said they are yet to work out the terms but the original plan was to start online courses for students who opt for foreign languages ​​as a subject. “The CM discussed with me that public school students, who mostly come from rural backgrounds, feel weak and struggle on global platforms. The plan is to start online classes for students who want to opt for any foreign language. They can belong to any class. Any further qualification is always good,” Singla said.

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