Words of great wisdom, without doubt. It is, unfortunately, far too common to be understood inaccurately. There are many reasons why this might happen, but if this is true of our first language, matters only get more complicated when we move on to second or foreign languages. Incomplete grasp over syntactic form, inadequate vocabulary, anxiety of committing errors, accentual discrepancies, compounded with the lack of opportunity to hone second language skills, are some of the serious barriers a new learner has to deal with when learning a new language.
The case of English as a second language is particularly worth exploring because of its global nature and the opportunities it has to offer. The exponential growth in career options available to fluent speakers of English has resulted in a high number of people desirous of learning the language. Since English is not being learnt to just be able enjoy its rich literature, or because it might come in handy when travelling abroad, and since the focus is more on being able to make a career out of it, it is all the more vitally important that a high degree of proficiency is achieved in the language. However, there is often a vast gap between the teacher and the taught. Native speakers may find it hard to unlearn what they have learnt as native speakers; non-natives may face difficulties grappling with a foreign syntax; teachers may first have to learn the learners’ language to be better able to teach; and so on. Despite difficulties, though, it is important not to lose sight of the ultimate goal – that of helping the learner of ESL / EFL attain fluency in English.
It is to this end that Confluence is organized every year. Through it, we hope to provide a common platform for teachers of English all over the world to meet, discuss their problems, draw on each others’ experiences, and finally, grow as teachers. We also believe that it is insufficient for teachers to get together in exclusion of learners, as doing so would be akin to telling but half the story. We encourage students to actively participate and present their own papers based on their difficulties as learners, and perhaps suggest practical solutions that can be replicated in classrooms around the world, thus making the process of learning English that much richer. It is this meeting of teachers and learners that makes Confluence, well, a real confluence.
Dr. Anjali Patil-Gaikwad.