English Language Teaching and Learning. A Critical Analysis

(Muhammad Saleem Baloch, Karachi)

It goes without saying that in the present era English is a lingua franca e.g the language of communication globally. In most of the countries it is used as a tool for communication. But in South Asia the scenario is totally different. Mostly, English proficiency is believed to be a form of genius and high I.Q level. Let's take a peek into the teaching of English in our side of the world. Though English language teachers are in great numbers, but few are competent enough to teach as there's dearth of training institutes to help shape and groom the Teachers' skills and expertise. In one hand we see ubiquitous English language institutions and the other hand we don't see any quality outcome from these institutions. So, where's the missing link? Let's see this scenario from another perspective. A lawyer is required to complete L.L.B and after completing the degree, he is required to get some training under the wings of some veteran lawyers to know their ropes. Then we see M.B.B.S plus house jobs are mandatory to be a licensed medical practitioner. What about teaching English as a second language? Are there any qualifications? If yes, then how many English language teachers are aware of them or are trained? Now coming to the missing link: The missing link is training. But before training a degree in the relevant discipline is also essential. Third prerequisite would be experience. Once again looking at the current lot of English language teachers, how many will qualify for the same? The sad part is that the teachers are not learners. It might seem contradictory but honestly speaking all good and competent teachers are life-long learners. They always try to groom themselves academically and professionally by joining courses relevant to their field and reading books and journals to enrich their skills and knowledge. How can an untrained and unskilled teacher impart necessary skills which he himself lacks. To bring about radical changes there is demand of radical solutions. In order to be in the mainstream, the forces of institutional inertia are to be broken. No doubt a paradigm shift is required and this shift can only be possible if all stakeholders like institutions and the government take things seriously and be on the same page. In sum, to materialize this dream, we have to spread the culture of learning among both the teachers and learners alike. Otherwise, this dream would be a far cry!

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