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Problems faced by English Language

Teachers while Teaching Students


with Rural Background

Submitted To:
Mr. Izhar-ul-Haq

At: Allama Iqbal Open University, Raza Block Campus

By
Uzma Ambreen Chaudry
Diploma TEFL 5655
Roll No. AD 526620
AIOU
Lahore
NOV-2010

ABSTRACT

This research paper will explore the problems being

faced by teachers, at secondary level , while teaching

the students from rural background. First an overview of

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the dire situations and the old dated fashion of the

teaching methods is discussed as the researcher

believed that the problems these teachers were facing

while teaching such students was also because at some

level the teachers are also responsible for the poor

conditions of students with rural background.

A review of available research material is also included,

and a number of factors and reasons contributing to the

prevailing norms and practices, the subsequent standing

of the learner with respect to second language is also

discussed. The problems resulting from these factors

and practices, for teachers as well as the students, in

particular classrooms are carefully highlighted. The

paper concludes with skillfully analyzed facts and

figures and some remedies are also suggested

INTRODUCTION
This Research assignment is hereby submitted to the respected
Teacher Sir. Izhar-ul-Haq to fulfill partial requirement of the
course “Psycholinguistics & Language Teaching
Methodology”, code # 5655, TEFL, at Allama Iqbal Open
University, Reza Block Campus, Lahore.
The Researcher is a student and ‘has completed this
assignment with best of efforts, zeal and passion by utilizing
proven Research tools and techniques to get accurate

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information and draw out the conclusion with the help of which
the real problem can truly be encircled and Recommendations
be given.
This paper discusses the problem regarding teaching English
language. English should be taught in English not in Urdu or
other languages.
This paper encircles the problems of teaching English in
Pakistan, the causes, effects, advantages and disadvantages of
the style of teaching. The data was collected from eminent
teachers and focused students who belong to the circle of
teaching and learning. The Researcher has tried his level best
to collect the data with in the close proximity of methodology of
teaching with respect to the analysis.

Limitations of the study

There are however certain limitations of the study, the


study includes only a certain number of English
teachers as specified in the course requirements, and
those of a certain area of Lahore city. Convenient

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sample was taken keeping in view the time limitations
and specified length of the course project.
It can thus be said that even more specific problems
could be found out and analyzed if the study could be
carried on, at a higher level.

Importance of English as a Language:

It so happens that, in the life of Nations, language plays


pivotal role in establishment of social and cultural values.
People come across one another and share their inner
selves in the very right perspective of a common
language. It can be said that a language acts as a carrier
in the life of Nations, a recognition, a realization and
finally a benchmark which carries forward the literature,
inventions, innovations, cultural values and civilization of
a Nation.

This paper is a discourse regarding English Language


which is the most important and focused language across
the globe and Pakistan is no exception. The geographical
distribution of Pakistan encircles around different regional
languages as Mother tongue in these regions but when
we talk of a common language then Urdu and English
pop up. Most of the people who belong to different

4
regions come across and talk to one another in Urdu, on
the other hand the academic, official, corporate, Research
and other areas extend the same demand for English and
it is used as the first official language across Pakistan.
Since 1947 till date, we have had placed our best efforts
to be home with English but the more we go further the
less we gain. It is a fact that the impression of British
rulers was the main cause in determining the place of
English in our official and other courses but it is even a
fact that the notion of a common language is as
necessary at global level as within a country among
different regions.
The world needs a common language which can act as a
medium of communication when two people of different
nations, regions communicate together. It is not decided
on an International forum but the nature and structure of
a language paves the way towards it acceptability as a
global language. English has its roots, sound roots, rich
heritage of prolific writing pieces and a very strong
backing of intellectual paraphernalia which helps it in
growing further and farther.

The Problem:
In Pakistan, the language and teaching policy had always
been so controversial that it was made and left in
isolation without any impact and usage. The weakness in
English is our Nation’s dilemma but even after crossing
the landmark of half a century we have been trying our
level best to cope with it without having any concrete
pavements or intellectual back ups. There are lot of
hookups and barricade, we use English as a Medium of

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Instruction, we have taught and are teaching it as a
subject but not as a distinct language. Our students are
being pushed to study Physics, Chemistry and
Mathematics in English but English in their Mother tongue.
The problems aggravates when it comes to the students
of rural background who have not at all been exposed to
the English language. and till today ,in rural areas,
teachers are teaching English in their mother tongue and
what makes it worse is that sometimes they are taught
English in their regional languages i.e, Sindhi, Punjabi,
Pashto, Seraiki. Students from such areas can create a big
number of problems for the teachers who are teaching
them on a higher level as well as for the fellow students.
The result of this very approach is formidable and futile as
it appears as a considerable handicap when student
enters the professional life and start his/her career.

The lasting effect of this problem has done immense


harm to generations and the responsibility goes to the
authorities and teachers who make policies and teach the
poor students. The teaching method is decades old and
no change has so far been made into it and it seems that
they are not willing to have any change in it and ‘are still
trying to pack the rack in same old fashion.
It is not the case that now; we know the problem so that
we are in a position to resolve it. The severity of this
problem is so intense that even if we want, we can’t
implement the discussed and decided solution as the
human resource is not available to get the job done. The
entire system of education needs immediate and
revolutionary change and we need to train the teachers

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so that they may understand the need for the change and
accept it all willingly.

Review of Related Literature:


1) Some Common Language Teaching Methods:
Teaching of English Language has had been a subject of
common interest at global level and many schools of
thoughts are busy in proclaiming the pros and cons of
different teaching methods. There are many verities of
English teaching as a foreign language but the form we
have adopted in Pakistan is plain and simple and that is
Grammar-Translation method. This method seems useful
in its own context [reading and writing] but it does not
cover the language as a whole and leaves students under
a great deal of stress regarding colloquial usage of the
language.
The concept is very clear that we are trying to teach
spoken English through written roles and regulations and
owing to this very problem, students get confused and
they try to pronounce a word as it is written.
In the very context of this approach which can be defined
as providing strong structural base to the students of
English language, the method is uni-dimensional and
teacher oriented. San Diego State University referes this
method as:
“The Grammar-Translation Approach
This approach was historically used in teaching Greek and
Latin. The approach was generalized to teaching modern
languages.

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Classes are taught in the students' mother tongue, with
little active use of the target language. Vocabulary is
taught in the form of isolated word lists. Elaborate
explanations of grammar are always provided. Grammar
instruction provides the rules for putting words together;
instruction often focuses on the form and inflection of
words. Reading of difficult texts is begun early in the
course of study. Little attention is paid to the content of
texts, which are treated as exercises in grammatical
analysis. Often the only drills are exercises in translating
disconnected sentences from the target language into the
mother tongue, and vice versa. Little or no attention is
given to pronunciation.” [2]

[2] ELT Journal, San Diago State University, San diago


University press, January 2007 Volume XXV, Page
125, Para 3

It can be noticed that Grammar Translation method


covers one side of the language and does not provide any
room for pronunciation learning. In contrast to the
Grammar Translation Method another very useful method
is Direct Method, the focus of which is to teach English
in English, The linguistic department of Oklahoma State
University refers this method in an article as

“The Direct Approach”


This approach was developed initially as a reaction to the
grammar-translation approach in an attempt to integrate
more use of the target language in instruction.

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Lessons begin with a dialogue using a modern
conversational style in the target language. Material is
first presented orally with actions or pictures. The mother
tongue is NEVER, NEVER used. There is no translation.
The preferred type of exercise is a series of questions in
the target language based on the dialogue or an
anecdotal narrative. Questions are answered in the target
language. Grammar is taught inductively--rules are
generalized from the practice and experience with the
target language. Verbs are used first and systematically
conjugated only much later after some oral mastery of
the target language. Advanced students read literature
for comprehension and pleasure. Literary texts are not
analyzed grammatically. The culture associated with the
target language is also taught inductively. Culture is
considered an important aspect of learning the
language.” [3]

[3] Journal of Faculty Arts & Literature, Oklahoma State


University, Oklahoma University Press, February 2007,
Volume XXXI, Page 96

In fact the direct approach requires a teacher to act more


like a facilitator and this method provides ample chances
to the students to come up with best of their intellectual
ability. They try their utmost best to come up with the
inner capabilities in order to learn the target language
and from the very first day they are trained to start
thinking in that language.
Another method which is widely used round the globe is
Audio Lingual method, Oxford University, department of

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linguistics advocates the importance of this method in
following words as:
”The Audio-lingual Method”
This method is based on the principles of behavior
psychology. It adapted many of the principles and
procedures of the Direct Method, in part as a reaction to
the lack of speaking skills of the Reading Approach.
New material is presented in the form of a dialogue.
Based on the principle that language learning is habit
formation, the method fosters dependence on mimicry,
memorization of set phrases and over-learning. Structures
are sequenced and taught one at a time. Structural
patterns are taught using repetitive drills. Little or no
grammatical explanations are provided; grammar is
taught inductively. Skills are sequenced. Listening,
speaking, reading and writing are developed in order.
Vocabulary is strictly limited and learned in context.
Another useful approach is called

“Communicative Approach” or Communicative


language teaching, it makes use of real-life situations that
necessitate communication. The teacher sets up a
situation that students are likely to encounter in real life.
Unlike the audiolingual method of language teaching,
which relies on repetition and drills, the communicative
approach can leave students in suspense as to the
outcome of a class exercise, which will vary according to
their reactions and responses. The real-life simulations
change from day to day. Students' motivation to learn
comes from their desire to communicate in meaningful
ways about meaningful topics.

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Margie S. Berns, an expert in the field of communicative
language teaching, writes in explaining Firth's view that
"language is interaction; it is interpersonal activity and
has a clear relationship with society. In this light,
language study has to look at the use (function) of
language in context, both its linguistic context (what is
uttered before and after a given piece of discourse) and
its social, or situational, context (who is speaking, what
their social roles are, why they have come together to
speak)" (Berns, 1984, p. 5).

2) Over All Review of Common Problems Faced by


English Teachers:
English is an important language. Why, it’s the principal
language of the world! The world is getting smaller, and
English is playing a very significant role in bridging the
gaps. As such, teaching English to those who do not know
the language is an almost philanthropic task. More and
more people today are expressing an interest in learning
the language. But teaching English to a bunch of people
who have never spoken the language is not simple.
There are many principal problems teachers and students
have to face, some of them are listed below.

• There is this high and mighty feeling


associated with English in most countries. People
always consider English to be on a high pedestal.
That is the reason why they are overawed of the
language. This 'English is a holy language with
which only great souls are blessed' feeling exists in

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most learners of the language, making it difficult to
teach it effectively.
• English is pronounced in a very different way
from almost all other languages of the world. And
every region of the world where English is spoken
has a different accent. People who are not used to
English find these accents quite intimidating.
• There are too many kinds of English. While
teaching English as a second language, it should be
kept in mind that students will not know the
difference between US English, Queen's English and
all the sundry English of the world. This could lead
to confusions.

3) Why students of Rural Areas have weak Language


Base:
Problems in a nut shell
a) Unmotivated and non-interested teacher.
b) Teacher’s obliviousness of up-to-date teaching requirements.
c) Conventional Grammar Translation Method used by all
teachers.
d) Lack of training.
e) Crowded classrooms.
f) Bogus evaluation and examination system.
g) Socially and culturally biased school environment.
h) Centuries and centuries of same syllabus.
i) No or minimal supervisions.
j) Ever changing language policies.
k) Incongruous home environment for students.
l) Lack of resources.
m) Text-book reading.

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n) Lack of time.
o) Stick and stick policy.
p) Un-focused studies.
q) Unnecessary interference by parents.
Above mentioned problems are definitely the tip of an
iceberg as there are many other internal and external
problems faced by students in those particular areas.
Final Words:
In the very right perspective of what has presented
above, the view of experts in this very field, it can easily
be deduced that the present teaching methods have
become obsolete and need immediate changes in its
infrastructure and appearance.
English is taught as a subject and all the students pass it
as a subject without having any command over the usage
and with lot of deficiencies in listening and speaking, on
top of all these students even lack a lot with respect to
the use of correct grammar and composition as they are
taught grammar with the closest context of formulas but
when they use the same in paragraphs they make many
mistakes in writing. Such students when come into urban
areas it becomes difficult for them to understand what is
usually taught to average students of well developed
areas. It creates problems for teachers as well because it
becomes difficult for them to carry on teaching at an even
pace, either they have to pay separate and individual
attention to such students or , because of lack of time ,
they are forced to leave them struggling on their own.

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DATA ANALYSIS

Close end questionnaire with constant variables was


used as a tool to collect data from teachers. The methodology
was kept close ended so that statistical tabulation of data could
be performed.

Sample Questionnaire

SURVEY QUESTIONNAIRE
TEACHERS

Name: _________________________________
Qualification: _________________________________

1. This survey questionnaire is about the teaching of English


language in our country.

2. Your valued response will help the Researcher to find the


weaknesses in prevailing system and suggest remedial
measures for the same.

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3. please read the questions very carefully and select the
best options from the ones listed in front of the said
question.

Select one variable from the given list to support


your answer
A) Strongly agree
B) Slightly Agree
C) Agree
D) Disagree
E) Strongly disagree

No Questions Responses
A B C D
E
01 It is easier to teach students with urban
background than teaching students with
rural background.
02 The problem with the students of rural
background is not of intelligence but of a
weaker language base.
03 The biggest problem of such students is :
a) poor understanding of structure of
grammar
b) poor vocabulary
c) lack of confidence
d) English language itself
e) All of the above
04 Current language teaching methods are old
fashioned and do not satisfy current needs
of students.
05 Teachers at the grass root level in rural
areas should be given proper teacher
training and it should be made obligatory
for them to take such workshops.
06 Lack of incentive and motivation as well as

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the prevailing school culture is the biggest
cause of student’s failure in mastering the
English language
07 Minimal exposure to English language plays
a big part in student based problems.

08 Students are not the only ones to blame in


this context as most of the teachers are
also untrained and non-serious about
teaching such students.
09 English should be taught as a language not
as a subject. The method should be
interactive and interesting and easy to
understand for all students no matter how
strong or weak background they have.
10 New Interactive syllabus must be designed
while keeping in view the social
infrastructure and usage of English with
more focus upon students with weak base
and special classes should be arranged for
such students.

Signature:____________________________

Findings:

Following are the findings of the questionnaire distributed


among distinguished teachers with their responses. All the
given questions were attempted by all the respondents and
they selected one variable from the given choices.

No Questions Respondents and


Responses

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01 02 03 04 05
01 It is easier to teach students with urban A A A A A
background than teaching students with Conclusion : 100% replied as
strongly agreed
rural background.
02 The problem with the students of rural A A A A A
background is not of intelligence but of a
Conclusion: 100% selected the
weaker language base. option of strongly agreed.
03 The biggest problem of such students is : E E E E E
a) poor understanding of structure of Conclusion: 100% chose the option
of All of above
grammar
b) poor vocabulary
c) lack of confidence
d) English language itself
e) All of the above
04 Current language teaching methods are old A B B D D
fashioned and do not satisfy current needs Conclusion: 20% replied as strongly
agree while 40% chose Slightly
of students. Agree as their response and 40 %
chose to disagree
05 Teachers at the grass root level in rural A A A A A
areas should be given proper teacher Conclusion: 100% replied as
training and it should be made obligatory strongly agree
for them to take such workshops.
06 Lack of incentive and motivation as well as A A A D A
the prevailing school culture is the biggest Conclusion: 80% replied as strongly
cause of student’s failure in mastering the agree while 20% chose disagree
English language
07 Minimal exposure to English language plays A A A A A
a big part in student based problems. Conclusion: 100% chose strongly
agree as their response

08 Students are not the only ones to blame in A D A A A


this context as most of the teachers are Conclusion: 80% replied as strongly
agree while 20 % disagreed
also untrained and non-serious about
teaching such students.

09 English should be taught as a language not A A A B B


as a subject. The method should be Conclusion: 60% replied as strongly
agree while 40% as slightly agree
interactive and interesting and easy to
understand for all students no matter how
strong or weak background they have.

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10 New Interactive syllabus must be designed A A A A A
while keeping in view the social Conclusion: 100% responses
dropped in the category of strongly
infrastructure and usage of English with
agree
more focus upon students with weak base
and special classes should be arranged for
such students.

Accumulated Responses collectively:

Variables Strongly Slightly Agree( Disagre Strongly


Question agree (a) Agree (b) c) e (d) disagree(
s e)
01 100 %
02 100 % - -
03 100 % -
04 20 % 40 % 40 %
05 100 % - -
06 80 % 20 %
07 100 %
08 80 % 20 %
09 60 % 40 %
10 100 %

Class Observations :
A total of four classes of middle and secondary level were
selected for observations, each class was held for 45 minutes
and normal class activities were carried out:
One of the classes was having class test day :
a) Teacher wrote down questions from book given in
book exercise supposedly crammed by the students
earlier.
b) Summary of Abu-bin-Adhem was given.
c) A few sentences of Urdu were given to translate
into English (pre written exercises in book ,

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translated and practiced by students in class a few
times)
Conditions were no different in rest of the classes;
a) All the communication (on both sides) took place in
mother tongue.
b) Teacher reading out texts and translating in Urdu.
c) Students were not being encouraged for speaking
English
d) No creative writing activities.
e) Weak students of (some from rural areas) were
forced to stand in class as punishment for not
understanding what was told by teacher once or
twice , and so on.

Findings:
Though most of the teacher knew that the method
they are using for teaching students, especially the students of
rural background is not so perfect yet, they were not ready to
try and change or improve it , some of the teachers were of the
view that translation method is actually the best method that
can be used for teaching students with rural background and
they thought it to be a compulsion to translate in Urdu
everything they taught. When asked that is it possible that if
proper attention is given to students with weak rural
background these students could manage to do pretty well in
classes, their answer was absolutely yes. Some of them agreed
that if they had enough class time or some special classes they
could actually give extra time to these students and it could
improve current conditions but majority of teacher were not
ready for giving extra time after classes thought they agreed
that the method could benefit such students.

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Most of the teachers complained that the main reason of the
weak bases of such students is the way they were taught at
initial level, they have a weak language base that’s why they
become the cause of slowing down all the students and the
normal class pace. They also explained that most of such
students even themselves are not ready to take extra hours
and believe in that they can pass the exams by cramming the
subject, these students face the biggest hurdle while studying
grammar because it becomes difficult to teach them the rules
which they afterwards tend to forget and do the same mistakes
over and over again as the grammatical rules are actually
needed to be applied and practiced and can not be crammed
that’s why they always have poor results in grammar related
assessments.

Suggestions And Recommendations:


Teaching English as a second language is not a simple task, It is
not enough if we know how to speak English fluently – teaching
the language is a totally different ballgame. Especially to the
ones who already have inapt knowledge of its basics. But if we
follow the right kind of approach, we can achieve this task.
Some strategies can be used in classroom when teaching
English as a second language. These suggestions are especially
given keeping in mind the basic needs of students with rural
background but can also be implemented on all levels of
students.

Building a rapport with The Students:

There are many levels at which this works. Our classes are
always worried about the very fact that they are learning the

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most important language of the world, and half of them are
probably thinking they will not be able to master even ten
words of English. It is essential for a teacher to create some
kind of bond with the students and tell them that it’s never
impossible to do anything. When they bond with the teacher,
they will find learning the language easier.

Building confidence for the language in the


students:

Teacher must train the students to ask some simple English


questions, and give their answers. Examples are 'What is your
name?', 'Which country are you from?', 'Who is your best
friend?' etc. While teaching English as a second language many
teachers of English make the mistake of beginning with the
alphabet. This is wrong. When we train them to ask questions
on the first day itself, students will definitely show off these
questions to their folks. And their interest in the language will
be built. They will come with higher hopes of learning more
things the next day. Starting out with the alphabet cannot
achieve this 'English is fun' feeling in the minds of students.

Starting a thought process in the students'


minds:

Teacher should make it a very firm rule, but subtly implied, that
there will be no other language spoken in your class other than
English. This will be very difficult at first, especially when the
students are hell-bent on translating new English words they
learn into their own language. Teacher must not encourage this.
But it should also be kept in mind that the students are trying

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their best. Teacher should be gentle with them when they
attempt to translate English into their language. Exhort them to
think in English. This is a mammoth task, and can be achieved
only after some weeks, or probably months, of teaching.

Building basic communication skills in the


students:

Teacher must not teach their students. He should always speak


to them. Converse with the students about day-to-day things.
Should keep talking to them in simple English. They will talk
when the initial icebreakers are done with. And when they will
talk, they will learn. They should be encouraged to talk. A
simple question like, 'Why are you late for class today?' will be
very useful. The student will try to explain the reason in English.
As long as the student attempts to talk in English, teacher
should make it a point to listen.

Special classes for students with weak language


base:

Weaker students should be selected and some special classes


should be organized for them on weekly or, if possible, daily
basis. These students should be monitored carefully and should
be given special attention.

Interesting class room activities:

Punishment always makes situation worse as it only enhances


fear of student in learning the language. So, it would always be
helpful if some interesting classroom activities are introduced in

22
class that allows students to learn and participate in a fun
environment.

Communicative Method should be introduced:

communicative syllabuses can cater for the needs of the


learners and so it is strongly recommended that communicative
syllabuses should be introduced for teaching English in the
country as these syllabuses pay due attention to all the
language skills and can prepare students to use the language
for communicative purposes. They do not offer a situation
where teachers play a dominating role; students are equally
involved in the teaching-learning process by offering them
interesting and motivating activities and teaching materials.

Teacher Training Courses at Rural Level:

Teachers at primary level must be fully trained to teach


students in those areas, in this way they will have a strong
language base and it will be by all means beneficent for them in
future. The teachers should also be trained to speak English in
“Native Accent” so that they may act as role model

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Conclusion:

Finally, we can say that though there are a number of problems


that are always faced but students and teachers at all levels
when they come to the point of learning and teaching English,
this happens to a majority of students let alone the students
with a rural background. But the study has clearly shown that
main problem is not with the students but teachers and
teaching system itself. Situation is becoming dire everyday as
there is no check and balance especially in far off and remote
area schools, which creates the problems for such students as
well as teachers at higher level. The point should be taken into
consideration and some regular measures should be taken in
that context. English is definitely need of the day and teaching
English as a second language is really fun if it can be done in
the right and sporting way. If we make it fun for students they
will learn better.

References

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