The English language holds a unique place in modern Indian society. Although India is technically the largest English-speaking nation in the world, its constitution recognizes no official language and English itself only holds the status of assistant language. Still, it is in many ways the important language on the subcontinent. After Hindi it is the most commonly spoken language in India and, given its wider geographic spread, likely the most read and written language in the country. Indeed, English holds a special place as a common medium of exchange among the hundreds of different languages spoken across the nation.
More importantly still, English is considered very important to the past, present, and future of economic growth in India. Much country’s surging service sector has been built on its technology and call-center industries, sectors whose growth has, for the first time, provided well-paying jobs for anyone who can speak English. English proficiency is clearly seen as a stepping stone to success in other ways, too – a 2009 survey found that fully 87% of Indians “feel that knowledge of English is important to succeed in life” both professionally and academically.
Still, as crucial an ingredient English may be, estimates of how many Indians are actually proficient speakers can be hard to come by. Estimates range from as few as 11 million to as many as 350 million but because there is no standardized assessment of spoken language proficiency, there is no way of knowing what range of skill levels actually exists in the population. This discrepancy makes learning English for school more important than ever. Because success and English are now tied together in the popular imagination, certified English proficiency from internationally recognized institutions are becoming increasingly important among would-be social climbers. Because these programs meet the needs of would-be international students and professionals alike, they are an important factor in India’s continued economic growth.
If you are interested in finding an English language program in India, check out ESL Directory for the latest schools and programs!