Feedback About Us Archives Interviews Book Reviews Short Stories Poems Articles Home

ISSN: 0974-892X


July, 2022



The Changing Role of Media in the Teaching and Learning of English

Dr. P. Hari Padma Rani, Professor, Department of English, Sri Padmavati Mahila University, Tirupati  



The main objective of the present paper is to examine the rapidly changing role of media in the field of English Language Education in general and also specifically in the ELE context in India. That Media have become an integral part of the education system today is almost a given and the assertion needs no vindication or validation.  The paper addresses questions such as “What roles have media played conventionally in the formal settings of language teaching / learning?”, “What roles are they playing now?”, “How are different media classified?”, “Why are media important in language education?” and “What is the role of the Indian media in promoting language education today?”

Key Words: Technology based media, Digital Media, Importance of Media in language education, Functional classification of media, Role of Indian media in language education


Introduction defines media as the main means of mass communication (broadcasting, publishing, and the internet) regarded collectively”.

Teachers who have been in the profession for more than a decade are a witness to numerous never imagined ways in which the internet today has changed the face of media and also that of teaching and learning. Internet today is not only an interactive platform but also provides different types of media such as newspapers, journals, magazines, television, radio, videos and audios on a single platform. In fact today one cannot think of any form of conventional media that is not accessible to us on the internet. As pointed out by Laurillard (2002) “the internet is capable of providing an interactive, adaptive, communicative and productive media on a single platform.”

The all too ubiquitous influence of technology based media on language learning has lately resulted in the emergence of methods such as Social Media Language Learning ( SMLL where media become the medium of learning language. Through this method of language learning , learners get the opportunity of participating in actual, real-time, relevant conversations taking place online. Thus social media provides contexts for practising the target language, even without a teacher by their side.


Language and Media connect at the International Level

The first edition of Daniel Jones’ Pronouncing Dictionary, published in 1917 used the term “Public school pronunciation” to refer to the standard variety of English it represented. Later this term was replaced with “Received Pronunciation (RP)” and the term being used to represent Standard  British pronunciation since the 15 th edition  which was first published in 1997 is “BBC pronunciation”. Perhaps nothing explains more clearly the growing connect between language and media than this instance where the standard variety is named after a media house.

Similarly the standard variety of American English is said to be the English of the Voice of America and the standard general Indian English is said to be none other than the English we hear on the AIR and Doordarshan.  The efforts of International broadcasters like the BBC and the Voice of America in promoting the learning of English are quite well known. And all that one needs to explore what these broadcasters are doing by way of promoting the learning of English is to type in VOA/BBC Learn English on Google and realize for oneself the numerous videos, audios, other materials and apps these media houses have made available for learners of English.

On the international scene, media’s role in language teaching is one of the emerging themes in the last couple of decades. For instance, in 2008 CLaSIC (Center for Language Studies International Conference) organized its third International conference at National University of Singapore (NUS) on the theme “the Role of Media in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning’. The subsequent publication in 2011 of the book Media in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning and the growing empirical research in different countries of the world on the role of media in Language education are pointers to the rising interest in the area.


Why Media are Important in Language Education?

That media constitute an integral part of language education is the new reality in which all of us find ourselves today. According to Bell (1995), there are at least four practical and principled reasons why linguists in general and sociolinguists and applied linguists in particular are specifically interested in media:


What are the different types of media?

We are familiar with the classification of media as falling under common categories such as print media, electronic media, and multimedia. These terms represent formal categories based on the varied forms in which they appear. No single classification available of the media types is either satisfactory or comprehensive. However, Laurillard’s (2002,p.126) classification is particularly interesting as she attempts to provide a classification of the  technology based media into the following five functional categories:


Media in English Education - The Indian Scenario

Media, which used to be on the periphery of the realm of language teaching in India till about a couple of decades ago, has moved to the centre of the field today. This shift in media’s role can be attributed largely to the wide availability of access to the internet in the recent years.

Till about a couple of decades ago, almost as a rule, media were kept at bay and were not allowed to enter the serious business of language or literature teaching.  The assumption was that media, which by definition were popular forms, could have a corrupting influence on the serious enterprise of language or literature teaching. But today media have made such inroads into the field that none of the conventional teachers could have, even in their wildest imagination, visualised what is happening in the field today. Scholars working on topics such as teaching of English through news papers, advertisements, films, film songs, news bulletins and T V serials  are very common today in the English departments across the country . And also the inclusion  of Cultural Studies as a field of relevance in the English curriculum of postgraduate programmes in English is a burgeoning practice in the academia wherein the mutual impact of media and society on each other is one of the focuses. Even at the school and college level, the presence of excerpts from news papers and e mails and lessons about media celebrities in the English text books is a common sight today.  The acceptance of mass and electronic media and even social media in the most recent years ,as an ally of English studies  in the English Departments  at the highest level of education, that is , even at  the research level, is a testimony to the growing partnership between the two fields at all levels of English language and literary education.

Thus the conventional assumptions about media’s role in language teaching and learning no longer hold good and on the contrary, media can in fact be an effective medium of facilitating language learning. And as we can see from the Hindu example cited in the later part of the paper, multiple forms of media have begun to collaborate in the enterprise of teaching English language.

About twenty five years ago, when the question“ What should I do to improve my English?” was posed to any language teacher or expert in India by a student who was desirous of improving his /her English, pat came the answer: “Read news papers ,books and listen to the BBC and AIR” ; and  today to the same question the response of the experts is not very different  except that they may add “watch channels like the BBC, Animal Planet or National  Geographic  and watch English movies ”. If one were to seek the advice post Covid times, the advisor would possibly add OTT channels like Netflix, Amazon and Hot star too to the list.

The advice invariably comes from those who themselves have either improved their English by these means or at least firmly believe in the potential of media in impacting language learning/ acquisition. Today, when media’s role in the learning/teaching of a language is taken for granted, the advice throws no surprise. But, it strikes us as ironic that this was the common advice given to students in India even in the days when   media were circumspectly held at bay from the English classroom.

In the post Covid times, one need not overemphasize the increasing role technology and media have begun to play in education in general and in English language education in particular.

Now let us see how in the Indian context media have begun to play new roles lately.  The Know Your English Column in The Hindu which has been featuring for more than three and a half decades now is a very popular column and it gives tips on how to speak/ write correct English, and how to use different items of vocabulary in different contexts.
The Hindu   may be said to be a pioneer in making bold strides into the arena of language education. The group  introduced STEPathon , an on line course teaching English language,, Stepolympiad and STEP ( Standardised Test of English Proficiency) in 2016 and it is claimed that more than one lakh  candidates have taken the test in less than a year of its introduction in the market. When a similar attempt was made by EFLU (The English and Foreign Languages University) in 2010, it was The Hindu which announced the news to most of us in the ELT field that EFLU had launched AIELTA (All India English Language Testing Authority) to conduct a proficiency test. That was the first and the last one heard about the test and later it was learnt that the attempt was a failure. The proficiency test conceived and conducted by a premier Academic institute such as EFLU, the seat of English studies in India, died an early death without many not even being aware of its birth. Is it not a classic instance of media’s success where the academia has failed?
It is claimed by the Hindu that “one million learners … are using STEP” (

The group has different packages for different target learners such as individuals and organizations, job seekers, working professionals, aspirants of competitive exams and college as well as school students. Different formats to match different learning styles are provided for the customers; Personal Coach where one- on –one calls with an English expert are provided;, live on line classes; video lessons and classroom face to face training. The package costs range from 999 to 15,999 rupees and the maximum duration of a course is one year.

Thus The Hindu Group, primarily a media group known for its long history of creating impactful  journalism in India and also equally known for its supposedly chaste use of English, has forayed into  the industry of English Language Education in the recent years.


The recent developments in the two fields of media and language studies highlight that interdependence and synergy can be mutually rewarding for both.  The Hindu example underscores the growing interface between the domains of media and English language education. It may be concluded that the independent functioning of the discipline ELE as a pure academic field of study is no longer tenable. If academic institutions do not begin to engage with technology based media in English language education, commercial agencies will step in and capitalize on the demands of the English language learning communities.



Bell, A. (1995). Language and the media. In Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 15, 23-41. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Brown accessed from

Oroujlou,Nasser ,(December2012) The Importance of Media in Foreign Language Learning. accessed from

Chan Wai Meng , Chin Kwee Nyet ,  Nagami,M. and Suthiwan, Titima .( 2011)
Media in Foreign Language Teaching and Learning. Boston: walter de Gruyter,Inc. accessed from