Interviews

ENGLISH LANGUAGE in Early Education

Susan Iannuzzi has authored and edited textbooks for over 25 years for British and American companies, including Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, McGraw-Hill, and Pearson. She collaborated with an Indian publisher for a book ‘WoW! English’. She shares her thoughts on Indian education.

ENGLISH LANGUAGE in Early Education

  1. Kindly elaborate on your experience in the Indian education industry?

Although I have over 25 years of experience in global ELT, including authorship of more than 25 courses for companies such as Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Pearson, Wow!English is my first foray into the Indian education industry.

In the ELT world, India is a special market, with many quality publishers, ELT authors, and academicians of its own, so there haven’t been many opportunities to bring, and more importantly broaden, my expertise through working with Indian education experts before now. When the opportunity to collaborate with Eupheus Learning arose, I was eager to partner with them as they are experts at curating the best from the international market and tailoring it to the Indian context.

 

  1. What is the importance of ELT -English language teaching in India?

In many ways, our world is smaller than it has ever been. Technology brings us all closer, whether, through the net, virtual meetings, or expanding air travel, and English continues to be the main medium for international communication. Thus, it is important for Indian schools to develop and maintain the quality of English skills. Such skills greatly bolster chances future success, whether the child aspires to a career in IT, medicine, engineering, business, or the arts. English skills are another tool to access global opportunities, whether they choose to travel abroad or partner with others coming to India. I am delighted to know that to make the book series complete in itself, Eupheus Learning has complemented it with several award-winning solutions such as BBC Muzzy for grades 1-3, TOEFL assessments for grades 3-8.

Also, there are other subscription-based products such as Fiction Express, Language labs and an A.I. powered app for learning grammar in a fun and engaging way called Radiant-ly.

  1. Please share the importance of learning the English language in early education stage.

English instruction in the early education stage is critical to long-term success. Research on language acquisition has revealed a ‘critical or sensitive period’, from birth to some time around puberty. During these formative years, there is a better chance for children to acquire more accurate pronunciation, better speaking fluency and grammatical accuracy. This doesn’t mean that it is impossible for teens or adults to become quite good at English! Of course, they can. However, they generally make greater strides with overt grammar instruction and rules-based instruction, and the demands on their time that other subjects require to limit the amount of time they are able to devote to practising English. 

  1. Why primary education is the time when a kid can be shaped into a future academician, sportsman, singer or a politician?

I think it’s because the world is still wide for young children. They are discovering their talents and passions, but more importantly, they are very sensitive to the feedback and messages from important adults in their lives. Most primary-age kids are very eager to please. As a result, adults have a lot of influence on shaping children’s futures through the feedback they provide.

  1. The English language is considered as the medium for international communication, the media, and the internet, so how important it is to learn English for socializing? 

It’s really important! Whether we like it or not, socializing today often takes place online, through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. These sites can be accessed in many languages, but youth often use them to keep up with favourite sport and entertainment figures who may be from other countries. Also, there is an enormous number of Indians living or working in countries where English is widely spoken as the first language, so today’s kids may have cousins in the US who don’t communicate well in any language other than English.

 

  1. How do you plan to continue to work towards your aim of long-term commitment towards the Indian education sector?

It’s my intention to continue coming to India to support Wow! English with Eupheus Learning. My co-author, Vaishali Mudgal, and I have had the opportunity to conduct pedagogy workshops in Delhi, Ludhiana, and Ujjain. We were so impressed with the quality of the interaction and mutual enrichment. It’s our intention to follow up with further workshops. These workshops provide the best of both worlds in that they enable me to share my experiences of best practices from other countries while learning about the Indian context. This feedback is helping us to refine my vision of teaching English and it is informing the writing of Wow! English, which combines the best of international ELT and Indian English instruction. That collaboration is reflected in Wow! English, and it would be fantastic to see a generation, or more, of Indian children succeeding and achieving their academic and professional goals as confident English speakers.

  1. Your message for the K-12 educators?

From what I’ve seen in the workshops I’ve conducted, Indian K-12 educators are among the best in the world! I would say trust your training, but also don’t be afraid to experiment with new techniques. 

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