Learning and teaching English at the primary level

Publish: 9:20 PM, January 25, 2022 | Update: 9:20:PM, January 25, 2022

Dipa Adhikari
English is used as a foreign language in Bangladesh. English is taught and learnt as a compulsory subject from grade -1 due to its increasing importance. But according to newspaper article less than 5% students can communicate in English after completing the primary Education. The journey of learning English is slowed down for various problems. There are two types of issues are found in Bangladesh-the problems in terms of learning and teaching. Bangladesh is an agricultural country and most of the people lead their life in villages. For this, they do not get scope for learn and speak English.

In Bangladesh the environment of learning English to some extent unfavorable because it is often seen that a person interested in learning English is normally laughed and criticized. When they make mistakes while learning such criticism prevent a learner from exercising it. Parents are confused with where to send their children. English for its global image and demand, Bangla for its national and first language are the staple medium of instruction in educational institution in Bangladesh.

Learners put more importance on getting better grades using rote learning. They think that rote learning will ensure them to get good marks. That’s why they spend much time on private, coaching, guide books and memorized answer.

To learn English there is a need for four skills. But the these skills are not given equal importance. Reading and writing skills are only emphasized. Examinations are only taken on reading and writing skills. Listening and Speaking skills remain neglected. Learners in Bangladesh face a great problem on their way to learn English. We know that classroom is the only place where learners get chance to practice English. But they get hardly any opportunity to practice it. In order to learn English well, they need practice English outside the classroom. But the sceneries are different here because as soon as the learners come out of the school, they never find any interest in speaking English. There are some teachers who neither teach the learners properly nor encourage them to acquire a language. Lack of motivation hampers the learning. They prepare their students only to pass the examination. For that the students do not find any interest in English.

Grammar and translation method is one of the oldest methods that are still applied in teaching English system. It demands overemphasis on grammatical accuracy in learning. They encourage students to learn English by achieving grammatical rules.

A teacher builds a nation with the help of his or her refined knowledge. So as a builder of a nation, a teacher must be efficient in the subject they teaches. But there are many teachers of English who are not proficient in English.

Lack of teachers training is one of the major problems found in teaching English in Bangladesh. There are many teachers who receive no training at all to teach English. So as an untrained teacher solve the students problems and fear of the subject. Even they can not make the lesson interesting. In most cases teachers are seen to be insincere. They think like a businessmanp, never think to motivate the students. Even they do not encourage the students to practice speaking in English inside and outside the class. Lack of ICT and electricity are major problem of rural primary school in Bangladesh. The teachers can not practice pronunciation, cannot play audio -video in proper situation lack of ICT and electricity.

The systems of teaching English in Bangladesh are not very acceptable. There are no scope to practice in a communicative way. It affects the teaching English beyond imagination.

All the books of grade 1-5 are written under the objectives of CLT. But the teachers do not follow the rules of CLT in classroom. It creates problems of teaching -learning in English.

There is a contradiction between teaching and assessment. The teachers assess the students reading and writing activities, never take assessment on their speaking and listening activities.

Living in a global era, we all want that after completing the primary education, our students can communicate in English. But there are so many problems of teaching learning activities in Bangladesh. To solve these problems the Government, the teachers and the parents from their distinguish place should take proper steps. Some possible solutions are given below. Home is the first place from where one can start to learn English. Parents should encourage their children to learn English. The parents are conscious about their child’s mark or grade. They never think of their speaking ability. The parents should be conscious about their child’s speaking ability. Teachers should be trained more and more about how they can help students to learn English. Authority should appoint the expert teachers who can create the curiosity of learning English among the students.

Social Media and network site can play an important role to make the students fluent in English. They watch the fairy tale, cartoon, kids lesson etc. Those are very helpful to build their communicative skills. Regarding test and evaluation, the teachers could give the students chance to think individually and independent in order to answer them. Oral examination could be maintained and kept a record on it. The grammar and translation method of learning must be changed. By dint of this method communicative skills should be improved. The projects of EIA can play an important rule to enhance the students’ communicative skills in English I think that teachers have great responsibilities to develop their students’ communicative skills. Those are given below.

Primary school is the foundation of any people. For that teachers should give more scope to practice listening and speaking activities in the classroom
The teachers could use the classroom management such as instruction, questions, ask and answer it on English. This will give the students an impression that English like mother tongue can be used for real life communication.

The teacher should create an atmosphere to learn English in the classroom. Teacher involve in a variety of activities as pair work, group work, individual work, role play, question -answer, discussions etc.

The teachers could create an atmosphere to correct errors when mistakes are taken as the part of learning process. The students would learn from their mistakes. For that the teachers should motivate and encourage them and help them to remove shyness and fear through oral practice. The teachers should engage them with activities-repeat words and phrases, play with words and games. Teachers must maintain game-like activities in classroom. Then the students learn joyfully and learning would be successful. The teachers should encourage the students to learn vocabulary maintaining a routine . The teachers could follow the stages and techniques of teaching vocabulary. At last, teachers should have to follow the goals of CLT on class-wise from grade 1-5. To the development of our primary education, the whole procedures should apply here in Bangladesh to teach and learn English in needs of the age. The practice of the English language should be given much emphasis on all spheres of life and then we can reach our goal. Only then good command in English in English will be ensured in primary level.

Dipa Adhikari, Instructor (General), PTI. Mymensingh