English Proficiency Programme: A Brief History

from 9-10 students (2013) to 11,032 registrants (2015),

continuing to 12,34,567 registrants/associates (2018)?




Aug 1997

I formally started as a teacher.


Complaints and Lamentations.

Regular gibe
A huge majority of engineering graduates are not employable.
[from industry tycoons]


My own problem. Tentative plans and trials.


Realization: I did not have the license to complain.
Admission: Rather, I could be blamed as partly responsible.
Question: Is it an unsolvable problem? What can the government/society do? What can schools do? What can the system do?
What can I - a mere human being - do? Is it an unsolvable problem?

In our lifetime, we have seen great problems solved.


Definite intention to make a contribution.
Abortive plans to adopt a school for the purpose.
Concrete roadmap to set up a classroom.

Jul 2013

A classroom: earthen walls, tin shade, cheapest possible furniture and blackboard, no fan, thrice a week, 2-3 pm. 9-10 students.
Assistance: Govind, Sarthak, Srijan, Anurag, Namita.



Realization: Logical flaws. Psychological bottlenecks. Lots of debris to be cleaned up. A lot to unlearn.

Original lesson plan grossly inadequate.

Intelligence cannot be inadequate. A language cannot be difficult.



Classroom shifted: solid walls, solid green board, tea.
And, a surprisingly elaborate lesson plan, spread over three modules.
Module 1 delivered completely - and thereby defined.



Yet another classroom: twice a week, around 40 children from class 3 to 6!
Very limited time to make a coverage.

To save time and facilitate re-runs, EPP Module 1 material appeared on A2 sheets.

Module 1 delivered second time.

Perhaps yes.


A fourth classroom elsewhere: Third delivery of Module 1.


Jan 2014

Seed funding from Alumni funds of IIT Kanpur under Community Initiative.
EPP officially launched.

Not an issue.


EPP material started appearing on large A1 and small A3 sheets.
EPP Module 1 delivered thrice under IITK banner at KV IITK classroom in March, April, May -- aggressively targetting teachers of schools in Kanpur.
EPP receives patronage of one generous alumnus and a number of other donors.
EPP Module 2 course material gets prepared. Module 3 material chalked out. Need of a Module 4 felt.

But, two attempts to deliver Module 2 fail to take off.



EPP Module 3 material gets prepared.
EPP team develops a respectable size and presence.



Modules 1 and 2 are offered over 22 weekend sessions of two-and-half hours.
Registration reaches three digits. First successful delivery of EPP Module 2.



EPP Module Zero conceived, prepared and delivered over twenty 2-hour sessions.



"Test of English as a Functional Language" conceived, designed and tested.



Modules 1 and 2 course (of 22 sessions) repeated over a span of two weeks.


We proposed this MOOC under NPTEL. 11,032 registrations.
Module 4 chalked out. Module 3 executed first time.

In principle, yes.

What next?

What can you do? What do you intend to do?
Why should we do anything?


Perhaps we succeed in one classroom round and one more online version?
Perhaps 20 of you succeed in replicating the programme?
Perhaps EPP versions are developed with three or four other languages as CLL?


Perhaps a total number of 40 centres of EPP develop at several places?
Perhaps improvements and better alternatives emerge?
Perhaps many teachers and schools - and coaching classes - implement EPP versions and its alternatives regularly in their classrooms?


Perhaps there will be some 12,34,567 registrants/associates in EPP courses?

2025 onwards

Completing school with an acceptable level of English proficiency would then be as common as riding a bicycle or verifying the grocery bills.
You will no more need to worry about this largest reason of unemployability of your children and other favourite youngsters!

Update: Sep 2015 to Dec 2016

(a) The narration of the history till Aug 2015 is available in public domain at Practical English: Lesson 30 and also at EPP History: Part I.
(b) The speculations of future possibilites based on that 'history' can be found at Practical English: Lesson 31.

Sep 2015

By the time the NPTEL course concluded, there were 11,647 nominal registrants - from a wide cross-section of Indian society.
Around 180 took the examination for certification, many passed.
In the process, our course "Practical English: Learning and Teaching" got completely organised and coded - in 40 sessions spread over four clearly marked modules (quarters): Modules 1, 2, 3, 4.

Nov 2015

English Proficiency Workshop (2 days).

Dec 2015

Development and Recording of Module Zero, as a primer to the main course.



40-session online course, with weekly lessons.
Tutorials conducted and recorded to supplement the lessons.


The same course delivered once again, at a faster pace.

Aug&Nov 2016

Diagnostic Test "ToEFL" standardised. Certification Test AdEPT conceived.
Positive response from IIT Kanpur students, faculty and administration, and also from the civil society of Kanpur city.


Several academic and administrative steps undertaken to streamline EPP operations in future.
Merging the EPP course "PELT" in an institute course "Language and Style of Scholarly Communication", we crystallised its action plan in exact pace with IIT Kanpur semesters.


"Practical English: Learning and Teaching" - simultaneously as part of IITK semester course as well as online course across internet.

Jan 2017

ToEFL for self-assessment and shortlisting.
AdEPT or certification and record.

- Bhaskar Dasgupta