The General English Syllabi and Examination Pattern of UG Level Courses of Indian Universities: A Critical Analysis


Dr Adi Ramesh Babu
Assistant Professor of English
Government Degree & PG College (Jammikunta)
“The syllabi are concerned with making general statements about language learning, learning purpose, experience, evaluation and the role and relationships of teachers and learners.”

-Candlin (1984: 31)

 There is an exigency of radical reformations of the existing syllabus keeping in the view the present day necessity and circumstances. Yalden says that syllabus is a “summary of the content to which learners will be exposed” (1987: 87). Communication skills and personality development are the two most needful factors to meet the present day demands. The sufficient quantity of attention should be given to these points. It must develop confidence among the students. Communicative activities such as group discussions, debates, role plays, situational dialogues, language games, interview skills, viva voce etc…must be incorporated.

The course makers must be veteran in teaching UG level students. The lessons in prose and poetry should be highly influential and bear literary tint. The course should touch the Indian, Commonwealth, British and American literatures. The course designers do not overlook the students’ intellectual capacity. The committee must give equal preference for standard literature, translated works, columns from newspapers and magazines and speeches. Regarding this, Candlin suggests a different perspective implying that syllabuses are “social constructions, produced interdependently in classrooms by teachers and learners…They are concerned with the specification and planning of what is to be learned, frequently set down in some written form as prescriptions for action by teachers and learners” (1984: 41). Brief introduction of the writers must be given at the end of the chapters. The questions at the end of the prose or poetry lessons should test the students’ critical approach to the lessons.

Exercises or activities given in the textbooks should make the students to improve their vocabulary. It is better if more than one synonym add in the textbooks. Instead of providing one meaning for a word, students should be trained to change a noun word into all the other forms such as adjectives, verbs, adverbs etc… and their appropriate usage also. More number of exercises on multifarious grammar topics to engage students’ mental drillings should be added at the end of each chapter. The grammar topics such as one word substitutes, phrasal verbs, idiomatic expressions, synonyms, antonyms, and confusing words must be given proper importance in the syllabus so that they will flourish the students’ competence to weather competitive examinations.

Phonetics got prominent place in the spoken world. It is found that Indian students are very poor in this subject and so there is an inevitable need to teach it to the students to make them proficient in international accent so the course writers must add the phonemic chapters including phonemic transcriptions, syllabic divisions, stress and intonations. A separate unit should be allotted for teaching communication skills and a practical class with minimum two hours must be arranged weekly once. A practical manual should be prepared as a guide for the English faculty members. Supplementary reader for the first year with maximum five short stories written by well known authors and for the second year students a simplified novella must be included in the same textbook.

Regarding the question papers, at least two comprehension passages must be included in the question paper—one from prescribed text and other from out of the syllabus to test their comprehensive knowledge. The grammar topics like articles, question tags, prepositions, spellings, conjunctions, jumbled words or sentences and expansion of proverbs do not improve communication skills of the students and they are viewed as frivolous ones, therefore they must be deleted from question papers. Importance should be given to the annotations in the annual examinations because contextual concept will come out of the students. Writing tasks such as letter writing, describing people or things, and information transfer are completely disregarded in the question paper. Regarding allocation of marks: 60 for theory and 40 marks for practical are recommended. Twenty marks for essay type questions, ten marks for annotations, twenty marks for practical English grammar and ten for quiz questions should be allotted for annual examination. For English language practical examination, external examiners must be appointed to supervise the students’ performance. Instead of allotting marks for theoretical phonetics, practical oriented phonetics should be incorporated. In designing practical question paper, five marks for record writing, five marks for phonetics should be allotted and the rest of the thirty marks must be preferred for students’ oral communication on extemporary topics, interview skills, JAM, viva voce etc…

Communicative English should be introduced for the final year students focusing on soft skills and personality development. A separate lab oriented syllabus must be framed for it to aggrandize their speaking skills. The marks secured by the undergraduate students in General English of all universities must be calculated in drawing percentage which will enable them to give more attention to learn English. This is the most significant recommendation. Regarding the syllabus and examination pattern, some refresher courses for English lecturers and question paper setters must be arranged and their ideas must be taken into consideration further development.

References: Candlin, C. N. (1984). “Syllabus Design as a Critical Process.” ELT Documents 118, 29-46. …… (1984) “Applying a System Approach to Curriculum Innovation in the Public Sector.” Trends in Language Syllabus Design. Ed. Read, J.A.S. Singapore: SEAMEO Regional Language Centre, 36-52. Yalden, J. (1987) Principles of Course Design for Language Teaching. Cambridge: CUP,



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