English as a compulsory subject in Pakistan

English as a compulsory subject in the Academic Institutions in Pakistan

·         In the view of the importance of English in global village, it is but in the fitness of things that English is taught as a compulsory subject in our academic institutions.
·         There are some people who oppose the compulsory study of English.
·         They say that English is a difficult language and a majority of students fail in different examinations only because of their failure in English.
·         Some students have no taste for English.
·         Why force such students to gulp this down their throats?
·         The solution to this problem lies not ending English but in creating greater motivation on the part of the students to learn it and in making the teachers follow the modern techniques of teaching the language.
·         The teaching of English in our academic institutions is in a chaotic state today, if there is one problem which is worrying the educators, the parents and (hopefully) the students regarding learning of English, it is the ever falling standards.
·         The students are taught English for about six periods a week for ten years.
·         But it has been estimated that they hardly know about 250 words by the time they join a university.
·         This means that they have hardly able to learn English words at the rate of one word per period.
·         They don’t know how to use the commonest structures of English.
·         The condition of teaching English vary from place to place..
·         By and large the performance of the students in urban schools is better than that of the students in rural schools.
·         Likewise, the attainment of the students in public schools or model schools is better than that of their counterparts in ordinary schools.
·         Some of the shortcomings in our program me of teaching English are as follows:

a)   Look of clear-cut Policy:

·         The English courses designed for our students have been severely criticized for being unrelated to the practical ends for which this language is learnt.
·         These courses are often literature based, the presumption being that the study of literature is the best way of learning a language.
·         This theory is untenable and doesn’t find favors with modern educationists.it is an admitted fact that in the teaching of a foreign language traditional reliance on literary studies is no a wise policy because the reader’s basic need is to attain a reasonable level of competence in order to be able to use the language to achieve specific goals.
·         The focus on literature diverts his attention from the acquisition of language as a useful tool.
·         For this purpose, the syllable needs modification. The teachers’ courses should include teaching English as foreign language (EFL) as well as teaching English for specific purpose (ESP).
·         The whole spectrum should be language biased rather than literature oriented.

b)   Little understanding of aims of teaching English:

·         The average teacher of English has little understanding of the aims of teaching the language.
·         The only aim that he knows of is to enable his students to get through the examination.
·         For this he makes them cram things rather than to master the skills of the language.
·         He is concerned with the pass percentage only and not with the attainment of the students.

c)    Dearth of competent teachers:

·         All teachers of English are not fully competent to do full justice to their assignment.
·         There is a shortage of teachers. Those available have little idea of correct usage, and none at all of correct pronunciation. Their vocabulary is limited as is their reading.
·         It is ironical to find that many teachers who did not offer teaching of English in their training teach this subject.
·         It is wrongly believed that any graduate can teach English to secondary classes.
·         A majority of teachers teaching English in school at present are not conversant with the new development in the teaching of language.

d)   Wrong methods of teaching:

·         A majority of teachers still use the translation method of teaching English which has been universally condemned as wasteful.
·         The result is that speech, which is so important in language learning, is neglected. The students are provided no practice in speaking the language. They can’t converse in English. They are unable to form any language habits. A majority of teachers themselves are not conversant with the new techniques of teaching the language.

e)   Defective textbooks:

·         Defective textbooks are still used in certain states. These books have not been systematically written and no attention has been paid to the selection and graduation of language items in them. Such books don’t have adequate exercise for language practice. Neither have they suitable illustrations. These books are accompanied neither by teacher handbooks nor by workbooks for students.
f)     Faulty system of examination:
·         The questions set in the examination generally aim at testing the cramming power of students. They fail to test the students’ real attainment in language skills. It is possible for student to get through the examinations. Just by memorizing answers to certain set question. Moreover, there are no examinations for testing oral comprehension and speaking ability of the pupils. At certain places student indulge in copying specially in the case of objective type questions. This vitiates the result.

g)   Insufficient provision of audio-visual aids:

·         Most of the schools function without aids such as gramophone records. Tape recorders, film strips, radio, television, multimedia, newspaper reading, internet etc.
·         Even some inexpensive aids like flash cards, charts, pictures etc. are not available in them.
h)   Over-crowded classes:
·         The classes in English are over-crowded. The rooms are literally overflowing with students. A teacher can only lecture in such a situation and the students have to be a passive listener.
i)     Shortage of time:
·         The number of periods spent on teaching English has been drastically reduced. This has been because of two reasons; one, they reduced importance given to English.  Two, the inclusion of some new subjects in the schools and college curriculum.
j)     Unsatisfactory supervision:
·         There is practically no supervision of the work of English teachers. So the teachers fail to get any guidance from experts.
·         Mr. Ronald Macklin’s paper on, “The Teaching of English in Difficult Circumstances” is of special relevance to the teaching of English in Pakistan. He says, “The old-fashioned type of benches and desks which restrict movement; the bad light; the noise from neighboring classes; lack of aids of all kinds; and finally, the requirements of an examination system which places a premium on the written language and consequently seems to favor the grammar-grinder of the old school” 

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