By Zakir Hossain;
Think that you are walking alone by pavement of Saint Petersburg city in Florida’s Tampa Bay area, and suddenly you encountered someone greeting you in Bangla in the English-speaking USA. How do you feel like? You will feel like as if you know the man for a long, long time and as if he is among one of your kin in the foreign land, thousands of miles away from home. The same will probably happen for a French-speaking person in Dhaka, meaning the language skills bring people in a close psychological proximity, giving a feeling that you are very near to each other. And, learning English, a language that allows nowadays your access to most sciences, will not be an exception.
People of different culture and countries learn foreign language for different reasons. In fact, their efforts to learn the language are to cater the everyday need of sharing global interests. Of course, it is not as easy to learn a foreign language as mother tongue. The learners have to undergo and undertake a great effort to master over a foreign language. They have to make practice the language for meaningful purpose.
We are now living in the age of globalization where one can use his talents to hunt every potential around him. One can travel he likes to be anywhere in the world, do anything he think of doing, experience everything that life can offer to him. His dreams can be translated into reality if he wants. But he must be able to communicate with rest of the world to turn the dreams into reality.
Only five percent of the world population are native English speaker, but cent percent need it use for international relations as it is the lingua franca of the world.
All the countries in South Asia including Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam have progressed tremendously in language learning during the last two decades. All these countries have adapted English as their second language although they have their own language.
English is being learnt and taught in Bangladesh for decades aiming at communicating, sharing, and collaborating and to accommodate with the global context for economic and human resource development. Learning English language for communication development is neither easy nor difficult rather it depends upon practice in different contexts.
We need to set up a guideline and methodology that must be followed in the classroom for the language learning. Language class demands interaction for meaningful purposes. Students need to put in certain situations so that they can respond and make practice of the language. We need to hold the students attention making the class interesting and encouraging. Making mistakes is a part of learning. There might be lot of mistakes in their practice session on any situational contexts but they should be inspired and they will be corrected at one stage if they continue. Of course, the language teachers play a significant role in making the class interactive and vibrant.
The Basic English learning is supposed to be taught at the secondary level. But there exist some problems that have been hindering the meaningful English learning. The language teacher fails to create a positive attitude among the learners. They lack training and practices of the language. The Communicative English Textbooks demand lot of meaningful practices. Things are quite different than that of the past traditional method of teaching. Language classroom now is full of different types of activities. It’s not meant for memorizing the rules in the class rather it should be learnt by doing in order to practice and apply it in real life context and situation.
In fact, attending a language class is not only for listening a teacher’s lecture but also doing something more. It is beyond listening. English Language has become a technology now a day. So, a language classroom is like a laboratory and workshop where learner’s ability must be tested through pair work, group work, dialogue and many other activities like talking, sharing, individual presentation and role play.
A language class demands interaction as it is a very important tool to create an enjoyable and lively situation in the classroom. It is also equally important to help the students to overcome their fear of the linguistic difficulty through much use and practice of English language that would make them ready to learn as a more competent and enthusiastic learners.
The book- ‘English for Today’ underscores the basic need to improve four skills of the language namely, reading, writing, speaking and listening through communicative language teaching [CLT] by the teachers.
Communicative Language Teaching [CLT] is the most practiced method in English language teaching globally that has been the most reliable yardstick for lesson planning in developing the curriculum for the students in Bangladesh. The curriculum of this extensively used ELT in the book is rich in content and truly compliant to the globally standardized method of teaching English.
One of the most common practices of English Language teaching in Bangladeshi schools classroom is to memorize the rules of grammar and the text by the students in order to pass the examinations. The teachers usually feel reluctant to allow their students to comprehend the language and to practice for meaningful purposes. They only teach the students a kind of grammar mechanism in the classroom and go through some passages in the book rather than talking about the pictures and the activities.
So, it can be easily guessed the reality and the teachers’ ability of language teaching. Teachers forget that there is more ESL situation in the classroom today. Teachers can engage the students making initiatives to explore the language in the classroom allowing them to use it in their real life situation. The secondary students especially need to be taught to explore the target language by sharing, pair and group works in the classroom. A teacher of an English-language classroom has many things to do in this regard. Students get less opportunity to share their ideas, creativity in the peer. Our teachers usually follow the age old tradition of giving long lectures on the subject in the classroom. So, the students have no option to make practice or to show their talents on the language. The way of teaching has a bad impact on the students as they remain idle in the classroom.
A learner feels confident sharing something with their partners in today’s context of language learning. In individual presentation, pair work activities, learners become more motivated as they gather courage and learn it by sharing with their own talents in the group. In this situation, the weaker students often get help from brighter one and even sometimes the weaker students feel relaxed and become more confident when his contribution is honored or valued by the group members.
It’s very important for the teacher to help the learners by monitoring the class during the pair and group work activities. He can help the learners and ensure equal participation of all in the activities by moving, sharing, listening, watching, guiding and mentoring.
If the learners feel motivated and keep try and practice the language in and around the classrooms, it would be easier for them to have good command over the language. It will help Bangladeshi students’ access to the rest of the world to communicate effectively. #
The writer is principal of Robertsongonj High School & College Alamnagar. Rangpur. He can be reached by e-mail [email protected]