Learners in schools need to learn speaking in English01 August 2022
Faiyaz Faruque :
English is the most widely used language for international communication. Out of 7.87 billion people worldwide, 1.5 billion people use English as a language of communication. Even if anyone wants to introduce himself or his country internationally, he must use the English language. In the current context, good higher education and research, international business, international civil aviation and others need good communication skills in English. If anyone does not have good speaking English skills, it is almost impossible for him to get good jobs or opportunities in other sectors locally and globally. Constantly, online merchants and freelancers have to communicate with consumers in English. So speaking in English is important for almost all the people in the world.
English is taught as a compulsory subject from class 1 to 12 in schools of Bangladesh. Students cannot communicate in English fluently, which is unfortunate for our nation. There are not enough opportunities to learn English in the schools of Bangladesh because English speaking is not usually practised inside and outside classrooms. Although there is a book called English for Today, its importance is much less for the teachers and students because English speaking is not tested. Students memorize answers and grammatical rules for passing in the examination. There is a kind of indifference among teachers in this regard. In many cases, due to a lack of proper training, adequate teaching materials and a shortage of class time, teachers cannot execute the lessons of the textbooks. Moreover, there is a lack of qualified teachers who can speak in English with students in the classroom.
The present purpose of teaching English in primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh is to achieve communication skills in English. That means teaching speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills should be practised in the classroom.
In language learning, communication skills should be preferred; grammar should be considered later on for accuracy. As a student of Education, I can firmly say that, teaching communicative skills in English is almost impossible without speaking and listening pratices in the classrooms.
The Government of Bangladesh provided training to the teachers through some projects such as Teaching Quality Improvement in Secondary Education Project (TQI-SEP) and Female Secondary School Assistance Project (FSSAP). Also, National Curriculum and Textbook Board (NCTB) provided training to the teachers so that they can teach Communicative English properly. In almost every school we can see that the trained teachers continue the classes in the old way without using the newly acquired knowledge while teaching in the classroom.
The whole English classes are taught in Bangla. This is the real picture of English teaching in primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh.
Although the government has directed the schools to assess listening and speaking skills in internal examinations, almost none of the schools of the country organize listening and speaking assessment. The students and teachers are not interested because speaking and listening skills are not tested.
If the teachers practice English listening speaking with students inside and outside the classrooms, students will start learning these two skills. In that case, the classrooms should be the most fearless and friendly place to practise English. The role of the concerned English teachers is the most important in this case.
The Ministry of Education should adopt long-term plans. Teachers should be provided with training; allot some marks for listening and speaking tests; and suitable infrastructures should be built. The ministry can also order the teachers to conduct English classes in English. If these steps are taken, teaching English speaking in primary and secondary schools may improve.
(The writer is a 2nd year student of Education at Government Teachers' Training College, Dhaka.)