Student- Sir, how can I improve my English?
Parents- Sir, I want to enroll my offspring into English medium community school. I want them to speak English.
Teacher- Sir, how can I teach English effectively to my students?
These sorts of queries are common from students, parents and teachers from primary level to higher level in our community. The ghost of English has strangled every body’s neck and spread in every nook and cranny. There is no doubt that English language has been the most widely used language in the world today. It is often referred to as ‘Global Language’ or ‘World Language’. Now it is taught as a second or foreign language in many countries in the world. English language is taught as a compulsory subject from primary level to higher level. The present English curriculum is functional and communicative which demands students’ active participation in various activities. But we, teachers, are making them memorize the rules of grammar and vocabulary. Moreover, we are translating the text into their mother tongue and providing readymade answer from the text. There is no emphasis of communicative use of language. We are treating English not a natural language but a language of textbook. Language is used for communication so the foremost motto of language teaching and learning should be communicative and participatory. After all if students are not using English everyone is wasting their time.
Students make use mother tongue while performing pedagogical tasks which occurs without encouragement from the teacher. They avoid conversations on the pretext of hesitation and shyness. Similarly, they lack proper structures and afraid of committing errors. Teachers are also the main cause of the use of Nepali. If the teachers employ students’ language frequently, then the students will feel comfortable doing it too. Therefore, teachers need to be aware of the type of examples they themselves are providing. Finally, the amount of L1 use differs from learner styles and abilities. Some commence using chunks of English from the beginning while others use L1 frequently.
The teachers can apply different actions to promote the use of English in English classroom and explain clearly. The teacher can set clear goals and guidelines to mitigate the use of mother tongue. Moreover, appropriate task in should be designed in accordance with students’ level and interest. Creating English environment, persuasion and inducement, no doubt, play vital roles to energize them in English. There should be the use of classroom English, videos, authentic conversations which not only fetch variety but also help students learn in zeal and zest. She can award incentives to the groups or individuals who perform well. This will change most students’ behaviour over a period of time. We hear teachers going around the class saying things like, please speak English! , stop using Nepali and it often works! Some teachers make the students pay a fine if they utter Nepali during English class and use that money for the same class in extra-curricular activities.
We know ‘Miles of journey starts with a single step but the first step is very difficult’. Our first step is to teach English through English. At present, the community schools have faced a great challenge of dwindling number of students due to medium of instructions. Some of the schools have become successful to lure students and guardians with the provision of English medium classes. Albeit the classes are in English medium, success and applaud as expected from the stakeholders have not been achieved because of internal and external factors. Whatever courses we offer, chief role remains in the teachers and their content delivery inside the respective classes. To march ahead to kiss the citadels of success, we must teach English through English. We know that the students feel confident and convenient to exploit their mother tongue to express their ideas so they use Nepali more. But the fact is that using Nepali in English classroom never helps them to achieve the competence over the language. Sometimes we need to simplify by citing exact examples from mother tongue which also becomes interesting and helps them to grasp the content easily. In this situation students get the concept clearly, thanks to mother tongue. The more exposure one gets, the more learning takes place there, so use of Nepali has to be discouraged.
To sum up, English should be the medium of instruction from the very beginning and the teacher should teach English ‘Englishly’. An experienced and curious teacher can use many more activities by applying modern technology to deal the content effectively because we are in the techno-savvy world. If we assist our students creating English environment, we will be able to quench the thirst of students, parents and our colleagues who are rushing in the mirage of English and its prominence. Let’s boost the time of English in our classroom.
Secondary Level Teacher, Bansha Gopal Secondary School, Chaughada/ Hetauda