May 23, 2013 | 10:53 AM (BD Time)
23 May, 2013 Thursday
Integrating ICT in teaching English
Md. Masum Billah
Learning English have gone through a nicely written article under the caption " Integrating ICT into the teaching of English" in a newspaper of Bangladesh written by S. Chowdhury, the principal of British English Medium School.
As I am involved in the process of improving the standard of English of our non-government secondary school English teachers, any kind of writing related to this issue draws my attention easily and my olfactory organ also smells this kind of food in any English newspaper. I fully endorse the points that the writer has mentioned in his article, but some other points call for discussion and further analysis.
After gaining admission into the department of English in a university, I experienced that the dramas of Shakespeare had been included in the syllabus. Shakespearean English hardly helps develop someone's fluency of English. Those who don't have any problems in English may have time to analyse critically the Shakespearean language. Usually, students of our country get admission in the department of English mainly because of commercial reasons, such as getting a good job or going abroad. When they have to study Shakespeare, Chaucerian, Anglo-Saxon literature, their desire to learn English is diminished day by day.
After coming to second or third year, they start learning modern English. Interesting enough, most of the graduates passing out of the English department find their place in college teaching. In college teaching they have to teach grammar and obviously traditional grammar. A teacher's performance is judged by the depth of his knowledge of grammar, which he did not learn in his/her university life. How he/she can use English does not matter.
The only thing that matters is how critically he/she knows grammar. He/she does not have any idea about teaching methodology as well! It seems nobody bothers about the issue. The writer has thrown a valid question-- if the purpose of making the students coming out of the department of English from universities is to make English teachers in schools, colleges or universities, have we given them any scope to receive any training? Is it possible for them to teach English effectively in schools, colleges or universities? I endorse his views and want to add something more.
Teaching is a rather complex job, which calls for a full professional attitude, behaviour and dealing. Can the students coming out of the universities perform these duties up to the mark? There is dearth of scope to develop the English Teachers during teaching career. At the school level, teachers receive B.Ed. training, which stands far beyond the practical utility, and address very insignificantly the questions of English Teaching. Of late, BRAC has started a training course for Secondary School English teachers. The initial responses from the teachers and schools were very poor. It' s a matter of pity that many teachers don't know that they need to improve their skills. When the situation is like this, why don't our universities revise the courses so that students can equip themselves to face the real challenges of their lives?
The writer has pointed out the need to introduce marks for spoken and written English for the students. Obviously, it's a good proposal. But considering the poor and un-uniform perspective lying in city, urban and rural educational institutions, spoken and listening parts have been omitted from the national examination policy. The thing which cannot be taught in schools and colleges for poor infrastructure and lack of teachers should not be included in the national examination system.
Of course, it's a serious setback in terms of learning and teaching English. But the existing English books of National Curriculum address these needs to some extent. Each chapter deals to some extent with spoken or listening skills. But experience says that a teacher without training cannot do those exercises and engage the students to do those practices.
Though students' spoken or listening skills will not be tested in the public examinations, to improve the reading and writing skills these practices obviously contribute a great deal which the trained teachers can assume and run. Our examinations are passing and failing oriented, the original skill testing remains absent. But trained teachers can develop all the four skills of the students though these are not included in the national examinations. The writer's argument to introduce computer aided or computer based English teaching or learning also deserves appreciation. But we should take into account the fact how many of us have computer access even today. Negligible number!
The question of city or urban students remains apart. The massive scale of using computer for the students at the national level still seems a remote possibility, though the government and BRAC have started extending this scope for rural students on a limited scale. So to think of computer aided learning is not yet practical. But it's a fact that many countries are using this device to teach English which has been very successful. We need revision of university syllabus, teachers' training on a massive scale, research and revision of national question papers aiming at making the same more creative as a means of real English skills testing.
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