Why is English a subject of terror for students?


Maisha (pseudonym) has always been the best in her class, achieving exceptional results in almost all subjects on the HSC exam. However, when she began to prepare for admission to domestic and foreign universities, she was confronted with the reality of her English skills. It turns out that the way she prepared literature notes and learned English grammar exercises for almost 12 years of her life didn’t really help in the development of professional and communicative skills in English. Like Maisha, many students in our country, especially those who studied under the national program, suddenly fall into this crisis. Despite having obtained an “A +” in English on the HSC exam, many students fail in the English section of the admission test for universities.

According to the records of the University of Dhaka from the 2014-15 sessions, 22,000 applicants out of 40,565 failed in English, and among them, only two had the qualifications to study in the English department, and this scenario does not has not improved significantly even to this day. . The question remains, why is the English language a terror to our students even after having it as a compulsory subject in every class?

Sabbir Hasan, a candidate for HSC at Dhaka City College, points out one of the main reasons for the fear: “In the case of English, our teachers and our seniors always present to us that it is a difficult language and that everything. the world cannot master it, which we are not told in the case of Bengali. “He also adds that this pre-existing fear leaves no room for an interactive environment since most students are already hesitant to ask questions for clear up any confusion or even try to practice the language without mastering it.This adds to the context that we know little that we can only master the language if we use it.

Since colonial times, the emphasis has been on learning English, which, instead of making it accessible to everyone, has turned into a skill inaccessible to the masses. The reasons include the traditional method of teaching English through written rules and structures rather than using interactive techniques, including a significant part of listening and speaking practices, reluctance to apply English for an essay even if it contains errors, and to confine it to the school and college curriculum rather than widening the boundaries.

Sabbir expressed his frustration saying he believes our national curriculum is not well balanced to meet the needs of modern career paths. As a result, only students who have personal habits of watching movies and series in English, reading books, listening to music, and participating in relevant English classes or competitions have an advantage in the fluency in English for communication at a professional level. However, the majority of students do not have this development. In addition, the situation is worse outside the cities, especially in the capital Dhaka due to the lack of qualified teachers and English speaking organizations like the British Council.

Noushin Anjum, second year student at IBA, University of Dhaka and English teacher at Mentors’, shared her observation of a candidate for admission to teaching: “What I thought was that most of the people in our country consider English to be an academic subject in which they need a good grade to take the next step rather than a language that must be learned to communicate with the rest of the world. “

She also said that most of the people in our country think it is an elite language, so there is no need to try to master this language. As a result, their learning remains superficial and they lack an understanding of basic concepts of English grammar.

Now, how do we break the ice of terror that has long existed between students and the most widely used language in the world? Since systematic change takes time to show results, students and teachers alike need to work to break down misconceptions on a personal level. Encouraging more friendly English language organizations, clubs and contests and increasing its use among students without hesitation can eradicate the years of rust. In fact, if we take English as our language and mode of communication rather than just part of our curriculum, it will reinforce the use of our mother tongue at the same time.

Noushin also spoke of a way out of this problem that most students face when they graduate from upper secondary school: “Teachers and institutions as a whole need to build students’ confidence in the use of this language and provide sufficient resources and opportunities to hone the students’ English reading, writing and speaking skills. People should realize that English is a necessity rather than a luxury that the privileged few can use.

The writer is a second year student at the Institute of Business Administration (IBA) at the University of Dhaka.

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