Oxford University Press targets India’s English-learning aspirants

Preeti Mehra New Delhi | Updated on November 27, 2014

Growing need: A survey by EF Education First showed that India ranked 14th out of 54 countries in the English proficiency index

Being the largest and the second oldest in the world does not make Oxford University Press (OUP) complacent about the future. Its Indian arm is keeping itself busy with several new initiatives to counter the impact of digitalization on the dictionary business, its USP for decades as a department of Britain’s Oxford University.

Middle class aspirations

In India, it has zeroed in on the potential of the Adult English Language Training (ELT) sector that is tailing the growing aspirations of the burgeoning middle class, which is yearning to enhance its global skills.

“We are looking at several options in ELT, especially partnering English teaching academies in Tier 2 and Tier 3 cities with the aim to improve the quality of English language teaching,” says Ranjan Kaul, Managing Director, OUP (India).

OUP’s plans hinge on a few surveys that have shown the urgent need for more such players despite a few national and international providers already being there.

It points out a global survey by EF Education First, which revealed that India ranked 14 out of 54 countries under the English proficiency index with a third-category level of moderate proficiency. This is also collaborated in David Graddol’s book, ‘English Next India’, where the author argues that the country may lose its edge over other developing countries if it does not keep pace with the global development of English.

He blames “poor English” as one of the causes for Indian universities falling far short of rival countries in the quality of teaching and research. At school and university level there are no regulatory guidelines regarding English language quality standards, hence ELT falls in the unregulated market. “We have chartered out short-term and long-term strategies for the market as well as tailored products for it,” explained Kaul,.

OUP initiatives

OUP (India) is also betting on its series on ‘Professional speaking skills’ which will help increase chances of employability among youth. The package, aided by audio and video inputs, targets the health, hospitality and services sectors where English is mandatory. Another specialist, ‘Express series’, teaches English for making telephone calls, meetings, customer care, and cabin crew among others. It comes with a self-learner’s CD.

Published on November 27, 2014

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