It is necessary to establish some form of communication between members belonging to a society.
Language helps us to express thoughts, feelings and emotions. In India, though English is considered an acquired language or L2, there are many challenges in teaching it.
In India, teaching English is not an easy task. Some of the reasons for this are as given below:
► There is too much emphasis on writing at the cost of other more necessary skills like listening, speaking and reading, even at a very early stage of schooling.
► There are comparatively fewer number of people who use English as their preferred language for communication. This problem is more acute in the rural areas.
► The majority of people lack the ability to express their views or thoughts clearly through spoken or written English.
► Ambiguities in comprehension exist at the phonological, lexical and structural levels.
► Appropriate words are not available for translating English to Hindi or vice versa.
► English is at times neither heard nor spoken in the environment in which the child lives.
English language is learnt or developed in a social context. Meeting and interacting with people is one way of learning a language. In the classroom, the teacher should make an effort to encourage the students to learn English. He/she can do this in the following ways:
► By encouraging creative efforts of the students to speak using the language.
► By organising regular debates and discussions in the class.
► By creating situations and contexts where language can be used for various purposes.
► By providing a relaxed environment for free expression of ideas, thoughts and feelings.
► By helping students to develop early reading habits.
Following are some of the problems faced by teachers in teaching English in a classroom:
► Overcrowded Class: An overcrowded class generally reduces the teacher’s ability to teach effectively. Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act prescribes a Pupil-Teacher Ratio
(PTR) of 30:1 and 35:1 at the primary and upper-primary levels, respectively, in every school.
► Poor Vision: Weak or poor vision of learners is also one of the main causes of lack of concentration.
When students hold books too close to their eyes, rub their eyes or move their body forward to see the written matter clearly, or are unable to see or read from the blackboard, they may have a problem with their eyes or vision. In such cases, the teacher should tell the students’ parents to get their eyes checked by a doctor. The teacher should also allow such students to sit on the front bench so that they would be able to see the blackboard clearly.
► Faulty Reading Habits: This is also a big problem that is often found in children who acquire or learn English as a second language (L2). The reason for this is that the student is not familiar with the nuances of English. A teacher should check such faulty reading habits of the students and correct them as soon as possible. Moreover, there are some techniques that students adopt inadvertently in the course of their learning, which tend to slow down their reading speed.
Some of them are as follows:
a. Sub-vocalisation: It means reading in a low murmuring sound. Students who have this habit tend to read word by word.
b. Regression: It refers to the tendency of the eyes to move backwards over printed material instead of moving forward. Some readers develop this habit of checking the already read information to confirm their conclusion.
c. Finger Pointing: This becomes a hindrance in reading with speed as students put their finger on the words while reading to improve their concentration.
► Biological or Neurological Problems: Sometimes, the problems are biological or neurological in nature. For example, a student may not be able to read properly due to a condition called alexia. Alexia occurs due to the impairment of the Central Nervous System (CNS), and may be caused by a lesion in a particular region of the brain.
Children suffering from alexia are able to recognise the meaning of the word but cannot read them aloud. Such learners tend to put the words together letter by letter.
► Difficulties in Learning Words in English: Sometimes learning English vocabulary can be a problem for a student. One of the reasons for this is that English has a vast vocabulary. In addition, there are numerous homophones, phrasal verbs, etc. that create confusion.
Apart from this, the rules of writing and speaking English
(that is, English grammar) are difficult for learners to understand.
► Incorrect Spelling or Pronunciation: While teaching English in a class, correcting spellings and pronunciation of the words is a big challenge for a teacher. Many words are often not pronounced the way they are written.
Therefore, a teacher needs to make sure that the students are taught correct spelling and pronunciation from the very beginning to form a strong foundation of the language.
► Challenges Related to the Exposition of Words: While teaching, a teacher may come across difficult words or phrases from a passage of a chapter he/she is teaching.
Explaining the meaning of such words can be challenging.
So, the teacher should employ various methods and techniques to make the meanings of the words clear to the students. Some of these are using of synonyms and antonyms of the words, explaining the usage of the words, using the reference method or translation method, etc.
► Lack of Practice: Some students may not practise or revise the study material or topic taught in class. This is a challenge for a teacher as it hinders the teaching-learning process of the whole class.
► Lack of Study Material: This type of challenge is primarily faced by schools in backward areas or villages where proper technology and, at times, course-related books are not available. This may greatly affect the teaching-learning process.
► Lack of Appropriate Environment: Environmental challenges are those that arise due to the location of the school. For example, if a school is situated near a market or crowded locality, the students will get disturbed in their studies due to increased noise pollution.
► Lack of Good Infrastructure: Factors such as lack of electricity or toilets may also have a negative impact on the learning process. Schools must ensure proper seating plan, adequate size of classrooms, appropriate height of chair and desk, etc.
Scan this QR code to watch a video on the problems of teaching English
Let us now look at a few suggestions to make teaching more effective in classrooms. These are as given below:
► Provide libraries in schools.
► Motivate students to do their best. Motivation will also help create interest for English and provide an impetus to learn.
► Provide grade-sensitive (or level-sensitive for students with learning difficulties) study material.
► Use extensive reading material. This improves reading habit, builds a big vocabulary pool, helps gain knowledge of varied topics and familiarises students with the general usage of language.
► Adopt correct posture as it greatly affects the learner’s reading and writing capabilities. Having the correct posture makes the learner comfortable and tends to enhance learning.
► Correct problems related to spelling by different methods, such as the drill method, the incidental method, the playway method and the transcription method.
► Play vocabulary games such as word-finder, word chains, semantic mapping and word association to enhance the vocabulary of students.
► Conduct a lot of group activities as students learn better when they interact in society.
► Use play-way methods to give real-life situations for students to interact in English.
Answer the following questions by selecting the most appropriate option.
25. Use of grammar punctuation and spelling pertains to
(1) text production while writing.
(2) formal speech.
(3) listening to lecture.
(4) informal conversation.
1. One of the reasons for the occurrence of a faulty reading habit is
(2) finger pointing, or using the finger to guide the eye while reading.
(3) overcrowded class.
(4) vision problem.
2. The ‘interactional routine’ during speaking assessment includes
(1) negotiating meanings, taking turns and allowing others to take turns.
(2) describing one’s school or its environs informally.
(3) ‘telephone’ conversation with another.
(4) comparing two or more objects/places/events to the assessor.
3. Which of the following is an instance of non-formal learning?
(1) Children learning through correspondence lessons.
(2) Children learning to draw from their art teacher.
(3) Children learning to cook from their parents.
(4) Children learning a new game from friends.
4. Which of the following will help learners take greater responsibility for their own learning?
(1) Summative assessment
(2) Supervised reading sessions
(3) Controlled writing tasks
(4) Peer assessment
5. Instead of asking questions and getting answers from her learners, a teacher gives some short texts and asks her learners to frame questions. Her primary objective is to
(1) make the learners realise the difficulties faced by teachers in preparing question papers.
(2) enhance the learners’ analytical and critical thinking.
(3) train the learners as good question paper setters.
(4) take their help during examinations.
6. Which of the following is an effective method in learning L2 (Language 2)/English?
(1) Theoretical reading
(2) Watching related videos on YouTube
(3) Performing tasks
(4) Reading motivational books
7. If a teacher is rude in class, it reflects his/her
(1) personality and attitude.
(2) behaviour towards the students.
(3) knowledge about the subject he/she is teaching.
(4) inability to teach.
8. A ‘special needs language classroom’ ideally
(1) is exclusively furnished.
(2) is located separately.
(3) integrates all types of learners.
(4) has extra teachers to help regular
9. The learning experiences that offer a vicarious experience to learners in a classroom are
(1) real objects and specimens.
(2) abstract words, case study.
(3) display boards, film clips.
(4) field trips, observations.
10. To inculcate a ‘Never Give Up Attitude’, a suitable activity is the one where students
(1) sing two popular songs and exhibit some of their art and craft works during the parent-teacher meet.
(2) make modifications to their paper planes and test them again, experimenting with the best way to get them fly a long distance and share their findings.
(3) in groups create graphs about the difficult situations that they have faced in life.
(4) manage to get the Principal’s permission to go out and play during the English period.
11. A student’s learning is more effective if he/she is
(2) forced to learn.
(3) seated in the first row of the class.
(4) seated in the last row of the class.
12. Divide your class into two groups and have one person from each group come to the front board. Read a sentence which uses one of a pair of homophones. The first student who correctly writes that homophone on the board scores a point for his team. In this speaking game, students learn by
(1) consciously focussing on the meanings and usage of words.
(2) collaboratively playing the game, where the teacher facilitates.
(3) ensuring no one is the winner, with everyone getting an opportunity to excel.
(4) being active as they practise the sounds.
13. After reading a poem, a teacher involves the learners in group work. One group writes the summary of the poem, another draws a picture to depict the main theme and yet another sets the poem to music. This activity
(1) caters to diverse abilities and interests.
(2) is aimed at preparing the learners for assessment.
(3) will distract the learners from the lesson.
(4) is a sheer waste of time.
14. In a diverse classroom, learners find it difficult to speak and write good English and often lapse into their mother-tongue because
(1) they are not motivated to learn.
(2) they lack enough competence and the structures of the two languages are different.
(3) they do not have the ability to learn English.
(4) they are slow learners.