The JNTU (Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University) has just woken up to the inadequacies of purely technical education in the modern multi-national corporate world. No longer are you guaranteed an excellent job solely by passing out of college with excellent academic statistics. Corporations no longer want untappable potential/genius, they want efficient people who can contribute quickly and effectively to the company’s growth. Thus the need for imparting what our highly competent English lecturer obsessively calls ‘soft skills’… which can also be called a combination of personality development, communication skills, etc.
Thus was born the highly praise-worthy JNTU brainchild, the ELCS (English Language and Communication Skills) lab, a part of the engineering degree syllabus for the first year students for the first time. In my opinion, it’s an excellent idea to impart pronunciation help, improve vocabulary and learn usage of words and phrases on par with global levels, with the aid of exciting, interactive computer software. Today, almost 6 months into the academic year, I’ve properly used the software for the first time. The topic was Consonant Sounds in Phonetics, and though the software played back a few words and pointed out common errors in Indian pronounciation (such as the ‘th’ in ‘thief’), it failed to show the phonetic symbols, thus making it less effective than it could have been.
Yet, I get the feeling that these classes may get better in the future (hopefully if placed in the care of slightly more competent faculty). However, that leaves me and my batch not very satisfied and obviously not as benefitted as future batches might be. We shall be the unlucky sacrificial lambs for the first time use of this lab/course.