English language teaching in Pakistan

Published Oct 04, 2011 01:10am

THE greatest claim that English language has to its fame across the globe is its adaptability and versatility.

The practicality of the English language opens innumerable prospects in the social and financial world. Regrettably, the way English language is taught leaves barely any ground for learners to properly incorporate this language in their daily communication.

The major source of learning English in Pakistan is our school classrooms where, ironically, teaching amounts to nothing more than boring English spelling drills, some formal grammatical constructions, and precise definitions for an endless array of words which make the subject appear desolate.

Injustice done to teaching of English language in Pakistani classrooms on account of the archaic methods adopted to teach it appeals for a thorough overhaul and a dire need to introduce the concept of ‘Applied English’ which stands for teaching of English with examples from real life.

Students tend to develop anxiety which results in developing a sense of resentment towards the subject.

There is a lot more to English language teaching than merely slogging at grammar or cramming vocabulary for the sake of learning it. It is taught either as an abstract system (grammar) dealing with de-contextualised meaning or as communication dealing with contextualised meaning.

Even in its abstract form it is dealt with the basic aspects of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Only when these five aspects are meaningfully measured, can the teaching of grammar of a language be justified. Unfortunately, far too many teachers who are teaching English are truly ignorant of this broader conception of English language teaching. They are teaching only ‘syntax’ in the name of grammar.

In this context, a simple but effective measure that could be taken is to provide English language teachers stronger incentives and encouragement by holding teachers’ training workshops.

TAIMOOR KHAN Karachi

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