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Teaching English


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I RECENTLY had a chance to visit a few English classes at a regional university in our country for the purpose of research. This led me to witness an interesting teacher monologue during the lessons.

While teaching, the teachers made no use of physical text, the blackboard or any technology other than their voice amplified through the microphone. The physical textbook was present, either in the teachers’ and students’ hands or on the desk, but was not explicitly referred to.

The teachers were being the primary source of the meaning of the text for students rather than the text itself. They explained the text for the students and provided a range of ways of explaining it, including reading and explaining elements in the text and providing examples from local culture related to the content.

The teachers were speaking and the students were listening with varying degrees of attention and with varying amounts of note taking. The way teachers conducted the lessons, one could easily assume that they had worked hard and their aim was to help students by providing a variety of concepts, using various familiar ideas and using L1 so that students can understand the content of the lessons.

Students were also provided opportunities for interaction in the opening and closing episodes of the lessons and this could include some serious debate. However, relatively few students took up this opportunity and in general took a passive role. Even where the pattern of interaction was one of teacher-student interaction, the teachers dominated.

They controlled the interaction where it happened and spoke much more often and at much greater length than the students. This transmission model of language teaching is still in vogue in our teaching contexts and seems to be working.

However, it would be fair to argue if all learners during the lessons were equally receptive to the teacher or there were only a few. In addition, opportunities for students’ learning or active involvement during the lessons were minimal.

Hence, the teachers in the traditional contexts may be helped by the teacher-educators to bring change in their beliefs. Their consciousness may be raised towards the fact that it is not only teaching that should be emphasised in the classroom rather learners need to be provided many channels of engagement in the task at hand because learning things is by doing them.

DR RAFIQUE A. MEMON Institute of English Language and Literature University of Sindh, Jamshoro

Comments (4) Closed

ahmed41 Mar 29, 2013 08:11am
Dr. Rafique sahib, Your points are well taken, indeed. The lecture you observed may have been better delivered and absorbed in a superior way, if the students had had the oportunity to read and study the text, say on the previous day, as a pre-lecture activity. Ideally, the teacher is one who interacts between the TEXT and the STUDENT~~~~like a triangular process. The problem is that students are SELDOM expected to ask questions. Often when they do ask questions, *SOME* teachers feel insecure. This seems to be the limiitation, never-the-less , in some subjects the question & answer method has been found to be more effective than our *passive learning * habits.
maria Mar 29, 2013 12:36pm
sir u gave us very helpful guidelines and perfectly make us understand student teacher learning process thx.
ahmadchishti Mar 29, 2013 04:53pm
sir.u are quite right. But there are bundles of other issues in English learning.
imtiazbughio Mar 29, 2013 05:54pm
Very well worded, Sir. I couldn?t agree more on your conclusion i.e. it is not only teaching that should be emphasised in the classroom rather learners need to be provided many channels of engagement in the task at hand because learning things is by doing them. However, this transformation in the mindset is not possible only by training teachers, although it is very important, but the examination and assessment should also be given due share to assess students? analytical and synthetical approaches in addition to their knowledge and understanding.