Admin: Test My Skills

Students at IISc grapple with English.

Jun 8, 2011 12:00 AM at BANGALORE

BANGALORE: Indian Institute of Science's under-graduate students are not only getting trained in basic Physics and Chemistry but are getting lessons in English too. They're not facing anything different from what's happening in the Indian Institute of Technologies.

Some UG students are from the vernacular background are taking seniors' help to learn English. Sreevalsan K, a senior researcher, said:"We have set up a small team of senior researchers to help a few UG students improve English. All are very sharp at Science but needed to work on their English skills." Pankaj Jain, a PhD student and member of students' council, said: "One of the entrance tests to IISc is conducted in both English and Hindi.

This becomes a tremendous opportunity for students from vernacular background to study science in higher educational set-ups like IISc. There are a few students who passed the entrance test in Hindi, which shows their scientific understanding is equal to those writing in English.'' He said while a science word in Hindi is perfectly understandable to them, they find it difficult to understand the same word in English.

"Students don't want to miss out on learning concepts. They were hesitant to raise doubts in class fearing the clarification asked for may be very simple. So they hit upon the idea of approaching seniors to help them out.We readily agreed to help, and have set up a team to impart English lessons." The classes are held at the council office as it is easy to mobilize students at a common place. Pankaj said the presence of vernacular students is significant in all IITs and IISc. "Some IITs have an English teaching programmer to help people coming from hinterland to learn the language. All these students otherwise have great abilities.

One endeavor of universities, IITs and IISc should be to bring vernacular students into the mainstream so the country gets the best of scientists." An IIT-Mumbai professor said the institute has a student mentorship programmer where seniors help out new students with language skills and other academic issues. ''What IISc students are doing is right. The programmer should be replicated everywhere," he said. The department of science and technology has estimated that at least 22% to 24% of students in top science institutions are from the hinterland.