How Anglo-Indian education has shaped English learning

We read and devoured English poets and dramatists with an affection which was devoid of any alien feeling of English being a language imported from elsewhere in the world.  Calcutta’s intellectual and artistic life was buzzing with plays, literary discussions, café’s, writer’s workshops and individuals passionate about English literature. Bhattacharyya 2016

An interesting article published by Kaustav Bhattacharyya in Sunday Guardian Live explores Anglo-Indian education and English learning, discussing the influence of Shakespeare and the British Council. Bhattacharyya paints a picture of the buzzing intellectual and artistic life in Calcutta. 

The debating societies, café’s, plays, writing workshops and public speaking events contributed to this intellectual and artistic buzz. A critical piece of this scene was a passion for English literature; furthermore, a love for the English language:

what really fueled the love of English language with our intellect and imagination were Shakespeare and British Council – two of the most iconic forces shaping our encounter with the language. Bhattacharyya 2016

Anglo-Indian schools taught Shakespeare as a central part of the English language and literature curriculum. The mastery of Shakespeare became an important part of learning and knowledge of English.


Is Shakespeare overrated? Davy D offers interesting insight, join that conversation here or see The Truth About Sonnets

Bhattacharyya highlights another important aspect of learning English language and literature: The British Council.

[This] embodied the finest, best and refined aspects of English language and literature. Bhattacharyya 2016

In the iconic British Council buildings, one could watch BBC films and dramas, including the Shakespearean plays learned at school, with the support of passionate staff, eager to guide through the collections.

The mastery of Shakespeare, intertwined with the British Council and the eclectic Anglo-Indian education system, contributed to an enhanced learning experience, as Bhattacharyya explains:

I feel the way one learnt the language in schools like St. Thomas School with its long tradition of Anglo-Indian education system was to make bold yet nuanced statements and expressing your thoughts which might question prevailing conventions and norms. Bhattacharyya 2016

Read the full article here


Cover picture credit


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3 thoughts on “How Anglo-Indian education has shaped English learning

  1. An interesting and thought provoking post Dan and thank you for linking to two of my posts to present the counter argument. I suppose in the end it is not the material but how we are taught and exposed to it. It is the old Eastern saying, “when the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

  2. Thanks, Dave. Your posts are interesting for getting a debate going about some of the issues – I think they link neatly with this article by Kaustav Bhattacharyya, and i’m sure that there are many more (this one is of course focused on Anglo-Indians). Sometimes, by the time the student is ready, the teacher has gone! Thanks for commenting.

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