5655 Project psycholinguistics and language teaaching AIOU | Translations | Teachers

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 1

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 Research is a student and and ‘has completed to get this assignment with best of efforts, zeal and passion by utilizing proven tools techniques accurate 2

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

3

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 growing further and farther. a very strong backing of intellectual paraphernalia which helps it in

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 5

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 6

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 9

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” necessitate communication. or Communicative

language teaching, it makes use of real-life situations that 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 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.

English Teachers:

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

11

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 students will not know the

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

12

n) o) p) q)

Lack of time. Stick and stick policy. Un-focused studies. 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

A 01
It is easier to teach students with urban background than teaching students with rural background. The problem with the students of rural background is not of intelligence but of a weaker language base. 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 Current language teaching methods are old fashioned and do not satisfy current needs of students. Teachers at the grass root level in rural areas should be given proper teacher training and it should be made obligatory

B

Responses C D E

02

03

04

05

06

for them to take such workshops. Lack of incentive and motivation as well as

15

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

07

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. 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. 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.

09

10

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

16

01

01 It is easier to teach students with urban A
background than teaching students with rural background. The problem with the students of rural background is not of intelligence but of a weaker language base. 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 Current language teaching methods are old fashioned and do not satisfy current needs of students.

02 A

03 A

04 A
replied

05 A
as

Conclusion : 100% strongly agreed

02

A

A

A

A

A
the

Conclusion: 100% selected option of strongly agreed.

03

E

E

E

E

E

Conclusion: 100% chose the option of All of above

04

A

B

B

D

D

Conclusion: 20% replied as strongly agree while 40% chose Slightly Agree as their response and 40 % chose to disagree

05

Teachers at the grass root level in rural areas should be given proper teacher training and it should be made obligatory

A

A

A
100%

A
replied

A
as

Conclusion: strongly agree

06

for them to take such workshops. Lack of incentive and motivation as well as the prevailing school culture is the biggest cause of student’s failure in mastering the English language Minimal exposure to English language plays a big part in student based problems.

A

A

A

D

A

Conclusion: 80% replied as strongly agree while 20% chose disagree

07

A

A

A

A

A

Conclusion: 100% chose strongly agree as their response

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.

A

D

A

A

A

Conclusion: 80% replied as strongly agree while 20 % disagreed

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.

A

A

A

B

B

Conclusion: 60% replied as strongly agree while 40% as slightly agree

17

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.

A

A

A

A

A

Conclusion: 100% responses dropped in the category of strongly agree

Accumulated Responses collectively: Variables Strongly Question agree (a) s 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10 100 % 100 % 100 % 20 % 100 % 80 % 100 % 80 % 60 % 100 % Slightly Agree (b) Agree( c) Disagre e (d) Strongly disagree( e) -

40 % 40 % 20 % 20 % 40 %

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 , 18

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

21

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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Abbas, S. (1992) ‘The Power of English’, World Englishes, 12, 2, 147-156. Aitchison, J. (1983) The Articulate Mammals (second

Edition), Hutchinson.

Breen, M (1987) ‘Learner Contributions to Task Design’ in Candlin, C. And .Murphy (eds), 1987, Language Learning Tasks, Erglewood Cliffs N.J: Prentice – Hall. Brumfit, C. J. (1981) ‘Notional Syllabuses Revisited: a Response’ in Applied Linguistic 2,1, 90-93. (1987) Communicative Methodology in Language Teaching, Cambridge, CUP. Cunningsworth, A. (1995) Choosing Your Course book, Oxford, Heinemann. Gilani, S. A. H. (1996) ‘A Study of the Role of English as a Second language’, Kashmir Journal of Language Research, 3, 2, 7-20. Gilani, S.A.H. (1998) ‘English Pronunciation in Pakistan’, Kashmir Journal & Gilani, S.W. of Language Research, 3, 1, 68-79. Hafeez, A. (1996) ‘Teaching English Through Integrated Skills’, Journal of Social Sciences & Humanities, 1, 1&2, 27-3

• • •

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Analysis and Some Suggestions’, Journal of Social sciences & Humanities, 3,2 , 51-57 (1998a) ‘Syllabuses for Teaching English as a Compulsory Subject in Pakistan: an Analysis’, Kashmir Journal of

• •

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Language Research, 3,1, 53-58

(1998b) ‘The Grammar Translation Method: Advantages and Disadvantages’, Journal of Social sciences & Humanities, 4, 2, 65-72

Longman.

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Principles in Language Teaching,

Malik, F. J. (1996) The Teaching of English in Pakistan, Vanguard. Explorations in Applied Linguistics, Oxford, OUP. Wilkins, D.A (1976) Notional Syllabuses, Oxford, OUP. (1985) Linguistics in Language Teaching, Edward Arnold, London. http://www.buzzle.com/articles/teaching-english-as-asecond-language.html http://www.buzzle.com/articles/teaching-english-tospeakers-of-other-languages-the-basics.html

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