Sudhir K Jain, director, IIT Gandhinagar has a more positive take on the issue. “Students appearing for JEE Main and Advanced do a comprehensive preparation keeping in mind the technical stream they have chosen to study. Having an option to take JEE Main in regional languages would give them some relief from anxiety at stepping stone, and it can build their confidence to progress further towards their next goal,” he tells Education Times.
As to the possible roadblocks IIT aspirants might face, Jain explains that most scientific terminology is written in English even in local language textbooks, which will help students to understand and cope up with the questions in JEE Advanced. “Generally, care is taken to use simple English while setting the questions to test scientific understanding of the candidates. In addition, the medium of instruction in the IITs is English, so a basic knowledge of the language is assumed,” he adds.
IIT Ropar director Sarit K Das says, “In an online objective test such as the JEE Advanced, students’ language skills do not matter nor are they expected to solve problems in English. Since most of the Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics questions are language-neutral, comprehending the questions should not be difficult. In class XII, whatever the medium of instruction, students must have English as a language, though in times to come, JEE Advanced may move towards the inclusion of regional languages as well.”
As to whether JEE Advanced will provide a level playing to candidates, Jain explains, “Most of the students from different Indian states possess an understanding of either English or Hindi, other than their mother tongue. Since the advent of the computer-based exams, the candidates can switch between Hindi and English versions of the questions at any point during the examination, which should also help them in comprehending the question in a better way in case of any confusion.”
Language, according to him, has not been the predominant deciding factor. “It cannot be assumed that JEE Main top rankers land up in the non-IITs simply for not knowing English,” he says.
“We must prepare our next generation to aim high and for that, they have to come out of their comfort zone, no matter where they study. While initially, having a language of their choice would help, they should learn keeping the long-term goals and larger picture in mind. We have seen so many students from regional language backgrounds do equally well at our institute with the right kind of guidance, hand-holding, hard work and determination,” Jain says.
Das attributes it in part to the language courses and special sessions at the IITs. Science and technology, he reasons, should be taught in English at the IITs for students to be globally competitive, an area where language deficit should not be an impediment.