kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

To recruit or not, that is the question

The Education Ministry recently announced that trained English language teachers from India will be recruited under the School Improvement Specialist Coaches programme.

These teachers would be placed in rural schools across the nation in a bid to help raise the command of the language and competency levels of teachers and students.

Many are against this idea as they believe that local English language teachers should be given the job opportunity instead, as they would be able to do a better job of improving the command of the language in schools.

However, as an English language lecturer who has been in the teaching line for almost a decade now, I cannot understand what the fuss is all about. I feel that people, especially those who are not from the education field, should look at the bigger picture here.

To begin with, the current proficiency level of some of our local English language teachers is simply atrocious. I’m talking about the ones who have graduated with a Bachelor’s or master’s degree in the English language.

These teachers, whom we have entrusted to teach our children on how to converse and communicate in English, cannot even construct a grammatically correct sentence in English themselves! I’ve personally witnessed how these teachers speak and write, and believe me when I say that their grasp of the language is cringe-worthy.

How then are they supposed to educate the future generation, when they need help themselves?

Many who are against the idea of sourcing teachers from India argue that the accents of these teachers could be a hindrance to the learning process itself. My argument is this: would you then rather have our children speak with a local accent but with dreadful grammar instead?

The Indians may have a heavy accent but their proficiency in the language beats ours hands down. I think it’s terribly unfair when we underestimate and judge them so quickly when we have flaws of our own.

So, if we locals cannot get the job done properly, we shouldn’t get all hot under the collar if someone else is hired to do it.

However, this is only one step towards the right direction in improving the standard of English in schools, especially in rural areas.

Another possible solution is to recruit retired local English language teachers, especially the ones who still have a burning passion to continue teaching.

Perhaps these teachers can be placed in urban or suburban schools, because most of them would rather not be sent to rural areas to work.

In fact, many young teachers do not like working in places that are too far away from the city. If the local teachers do not want the job, who else are we to turn to then?

When complaints come in claiming that the rural students’ level of English is appalling, who then is to be blamed?

This is where the Indian teachers would come in handy, as they would be able to help fill the gaps.

For the time being, looking for an external solution is the best we can do, in addition to the possibility of utilising the services of retired local English language teachers.

It’s a first step toward an improved command of the language among students, at least until a more permanent solution is found.

The process of mapping out a policy with expert planners and policy makers isn’t enough. It is imperative to consult teachers and educators with hands-on experience in order to come up with a decent, workable plan for a proper shift in system.

Perhaps then we would be able to tackle the issue without the need to engage external help.

We are more than capable of finding a long term solution to this problem — it all lies in taking the proper initial steps toward that goal.
Ashley Greig NST Columnist 1 November 201511:01 AM
Tags: english, language, teachers

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