English teaching in our schools

English teaching in our schools

Many university graduates in Bangladesh cannot pen an article on their own in English. Despite learning the language for more than a decade, they cannot speak English fluently. And after their graduation when these students decide to go abroad for higher studies, they have to spend a big chunk of money to learn the language again at coaching centres. So, what is wrong with teaching and learning English in the country? The problem is that most educational institutions in Bangladesh lay stress not on the language as such, but on its grammar.

As a result, the students can never attain fluency in English.

According to some researchers, an adult requires a lot of effort to learn a language whereas children pick up new languages easily and quickly. However, schoolchildren in Bangladesh are introduced to English as a subject right from the playgroup. And in primary schools, almost every teacher uses Bangla, not English, as the medium of instruction. It is an irony that schoolchildren are made to learn English by rote. These students reach secondary or higher secondary level without growing the ability of articulating anything they want to explain in English.

The joy of learning a language is missing in schools and colleges. Interestingly, many children and teenagers in the country know Hindi, Tamil or Korean better than English. They have mastered these languages from their own interest watching movies and TV series. However, they get frightened whenever they encounter films or documentaries with subtitles in English. But it does not happen with Hindi and Tamil. For them, English is a subject like mathematics or physics. Whenever they try to learn English, they keep only one thing in mind, which is how they would get good grades in the subject. So, they cram to memory their lessons as much as they can and put those on their answer scripts in their examination halls. This does not help in any way learning the language. 

On the contrary, English-medium schools in Bangladesh put stress on spoken English. Students' creativity is encouraged and they are motivated to write on their own. And these students can write on any subject in English based on their own observation and imagination. But most Bangla-medium students cannot do that. They even memorise creative questions like composition or story writing and can secure good grades in their exams. English should not be taught like any other subject but should be taught and learnt as a language or as a life skill.

Conducting an English class using Bangla cannot make students competent in English. Unfortunately, most English teachers in Bangladesh do this. Every educational institution should ensure that the whole teaching and learning process of an English class is conducted in English. But it does not happen because the teachers themselves do not have the capacity to do that. Even the schools and colleges in Dhaka city struggle on this count. Students spend their time in their effort to just pass or get good grades in English.

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