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English learning in Bangladesh: Needs more attention

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09th-Sep-2018       
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Dr. Syed Nesar Ahmad Rumy :
English, the international language is not a language only. It is almost a technology nowadays in Bangladesh and as well as other non- English speaking countries in the world. We know British people came to South Asian sub-continent during 18th century. That time in Mughal administration, Persian was the official language and every government Farman was written in Persian language. All the administrative work and procedure in the court were done in Persian language. Since1837 English was taken as official language in the sub-continent. After that English gradually became the main working language in the sub-continent. Before the colonization of India by the British people, India was divided by severalkingdoms and princely states. But the Mughal emperors had not the full control over all the kingdoms and princely states of the then India. It is true they had full control over the majority of the kingdoms/Princely states. This sub-continent is the admixture of different types of people speaking several regionallanguages with different dialects. The upper class Muslims in all over India used to speak in Urdu. But the common people used to speak in their mother tongue.
British colonial masters introduced English in India for their vested interest. Before colonial rule all the government activities and proceedings of the courts were done in Persian language. TheMuslim community in India was not much interested to learning or studyingEnglish. As there was a strong belief in Muslims that British masters snatched state power from Muslims and as a result of this situation,primarily Muslims did not cooperate with British-raj in India. That time those who had learnt English, they would have a better chances to get a job and at the same time they could have come closer to the political masters. MoulanaMuhmmad Ali, Sir Syed Ahmad, Syed Amir Ali were in favor of learning English language by the Muslims in India and they gave importance to English learning.
In the late 19 century,Muslims of India gradually did get close to English and a large number of Muslim students across the then India went to Aligarh for modern education.
In the early 20 century Muslim league was formed in Dacca (Dhaka). Atthe early stage it was a platform of upper class Muslim leaders and Jemimders of Muslim community. But within 30 years Muslim league became a very popular organization among the Muslimsacrossall over India.
That time an English educated middle class Muslim community started to grow in the Bengal presidency. After the annulment of Bengal division and establishment of Dacca University, Muslims of this part of the sub-continent had to trace their identity and this community perceived that they were transformed as the powerful pressure group for any kind of negotiations on the negotiating table with the political masters. As a result of this and other consequences Pakistan was created and the Muslim majority East Bengal became the part of newly independent state Pakistan.
After 1947 people of east Bengal started language movement for establishing and introducing Bangla language in all spheres of government institutions and educational institutions of the then East Bengal as the founder of Pakistan Mr. Muhmad Ali Zinnah declared 'Urdu shall be the only state language of Pakistan.' The students of Dacca University protested the idea vehemently and many people gave blood for the just of cause of language movement in 1952.
But it was also true that language movement was not against the English language, moreover, it was the movement to establish Bangla as a state language in the then Pakistan. Bangla was taken one of state languages of the then Pakistan in the 1956 constitution of Pakistan. But consciously or unconsciously there was a snowballing effect against English since the early fifties and it got momentum after independence. Study English is getting less importance since our independence and disaster occurred after 1982 martial law. PracticingEnglish from all government and nongovernmental offices were almost wiped out. By any consideration, this step was not a well-thought step and then the nation was not prepared for this. For this step, in general cases students of middle class community have gone to the bottom line and they did not get the proper learning of English.
Consequently, the state of English learning in vast rural areas and with some exceptions in district towns has become sub-standard. Public Universities of Bangladesh started pass course graduation in Arts without English. And this continued at least 2/3 years but later this program was abandoned by the universities. This severely affected the English education in Bangladesh. Shortages of secondary English teachers were becoming acute day by day and a total generation gap in English learning and teaching had taken place.
Student from upper echelons of our society are fortunate enough as they are able to admit themselves in the Standard English version schools. The guardians of those students feel proud that their children can speak and write English correctly. But as a matter of fact maximum of those students will not make their career in our country. They are looking at the foreign countries since their boyhood to make their career and staying there. Ultimately for this situation they will not be able to lead the country.
It is a million dollar question who will lead our country after 15to20 years? The answer is the students who are following the national curriculum. But we are neglecting them very much by not giving proper English learning with efficient English teachers.
So government should pay special attention for providing quality English teachers in rural areas particularly for communicative English.
Bangla is our state language. We want to do higher studies in Bangla we want to do all our official correspondence in Bangla. But at the same time we need to learn English also. We should not consider English merely as a language rather we should consider it as a technology to develop ourselves. Even people of many non-English speaking developed countries are now learning English as second language. In this regard we can refer China, Japan and South Korea. Chines and Japanese started English learning many years back though they are developed countries and they take higher studies by their own languages.
We know, a large number of work forces are going to start their career as executives of different government and non-government institutions without appropriate knowledge of English in future.
As a result of these consequences many high officials of our country will not be able to give or show full ability to the foreigners in the international negotiating table for weakness of languages. In the present situations, in general, officials cannot do any work in English for state policy. But it is a general expectation of all that all the executives should be fluent in English language and write English correctly. In such a situation how come it is possible for the executives to go with English language?
So time is running very fast. For developing ourselves in the field of international arena and to face the forthcoming challenges from other countries we need to learn English side by side with Bangla, our state language. Keeping emotion aside, the high ups of the government and the decision makers of our country should be more positive regarding learningEnglish.
This is the high time that we should take English as a precious technology to develop ourselves and as well as the country also. So government should pay special attention on this issue.

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