Teaching of Social English and Academic English
Social English and Academic English are different forms of English that a learner of this language needs to acquire. Social English is the language that an individual uses in day to day communication to survive in an English speaking environment. Situations of using Social English can include talking to friends and relatives, buying things at stores or asking someone for directions. This use of language allows the learners to equip themselves with social survival skills. Academic English helps an individual gain literacy competency and make advancements in formal education. Most courses for higher studies are offered in English, hence the importance of Academic English becomes higher.
The objective and the nature of complexity in both these forms of English vary a lot. Though Academic English is considered to be richer in structure and comprises subject related jargon usage, Social English is acquired through regular and thematic use. The importance of one form over the other cannot be made. Both Academic and Social English are important for an individual’s growth.
The ability to learn and understand various subjects being taught in English should not be confused for the ability to use English as a skill. The ability to use English as a skill, that is to use it socially, lets the individual converse fluently with others in this language. An individual may be able to study various subjects in English but may still not be able to communicate using it. This phenomenon is rampant in our country with much of academic learning being imparted in the English language. This has resulted in a rise in expectation of good English communication skills among English medium students, merely on the basis of having good Academic English. Parents, teachers and students alike assume that students who go to English medium schools should be able to understand English well and speak fluently in this language.
Teaching of both hence becomes imperative. It is important that, schools and other institutes ensure that opportunities to inculcate both these forms are provided to the students. The English teacher can take conscious and calculated steps to teach the students both these English forms. On one hand, the Academic English of the students can gradually be improved using their Social English skills and hence allowing contextual support, on the other hand teaching them Social English can be facilitated by encouraging the use of their English vocabulary generated through their knowledge of Academic English.
Integrating Academic English and Social English can serve as a platform to learn and use these two forms of English language. Teachers can have the students make presentations and have group discussions to ensure the two forms i.e. Academic English and Social English are used to pose a given topic. The differences between these two forms and their usage will be highlighted while doing so. The students will be able to value the importance of keeping the two language styles separate for different uses. The vocabulary and sentence formation along with the tone and degree of crispness used for Academic English or for Social English will thus be learnt and ingrained gradually in the students. Overall success of students depends upon being proficient in both Academic and Social English.