The overall condition of English in Bangladesh is undeniably in a declining state as the educational system is designed to generate more GPA 5s rather than building up a future generation skilled at the language. That is why, about a year ago, only two students qualified at the admission test of Dhaka University because most of the test takers failed in English.
Under such depressing circumstances, classroom teaching practices require thorough review with the aim of creating new scopes for adopting and adapting to new teaching techniques to promote communicative skills for learners.
Bangladesh implemented a more interactive teaching approach--Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), replacing memorization and translation based method--Grammar Translation Method (GTM) in 1997 with a cordial intention to teach communicative English to the school students. However, the attempt miserably failed because of unskilled teachers in CLT, extremely large classes, and some other reasons.
CLT requires interactive classroom teaching involving speaking and learning activities like role-playing, interviewing, language games, etc. Speaking is more emphasized in this approach than reading or writing.
Unfortunately, the radical change in teaching method has not caused any constructive impact since classroom teaching remains the same as teachers are still practicing the old methods that were in use during the GTM phrase before 1997. Even today, classroom teaching in most of the schools of the country depends more on lectures and less on interactions--- teacher to student and student to student.
The text books have also been redesigned for the sake of the learners’ creativity; however, until or unless classroom teaching changes in schools, Bangladesh cannot hope for a positive drive in terms of the English skills of its population.
The teachers are habituated to deliver lectures having the students as passive listeners. Students are accustomed to the traditional teacher-fronted classroom atmosphere; they still feel comfortable to maintain silence all through the class and to passively listen to what their teachers say.
Teacher-dominated classroom decorum and natural shyness impede the students to speak out, to share or interact even at mathematics and general science classes, let alone English. And no effective measures are generally taken by the school authority or as a personal venture of the educators to make an exception in teaching English.
Particularly rural or semi-urban schools generally do not bother what the students are really learning and the instructors are also not cordial enough in the holistic improvement of their services to the students because of insufficient salaries they receive and also a large number of students they have to tackle. In such a despairing situation, English teachers should be given intensive training on how to manage large communicative classrooms in a short span of time because generally class duration at schools in Bangladesh is less than one hour. And managing large classes might get easier if the teachers are taught how to use educational games.
There are numerous games designed to teach students of different age groups and numbers. Besides, most of these games are really interesting requiring the class to be divided into small sub-groups thus making the whole process quite easier for the instructor to deal with. In addition, there are skill-particular games; for example, games to develop vocabulary, games to sharpen grammar, or games particularly designed to promote fluency. Teachers can feel free to take on a game according to the lesson plan or needs of the learners. It is high time that traditional lecture-based, teacher-dominated teaching methods be changed for more interactive and informal education techniques to ensure better outcomes of CLT.
Authentic materials—the texts that have not been written for educational purposes, including newspaper articles, pamphlets, menu cards, short stories, jokes, etc are extensively used as teaching materials at schools all over the world as these are easily available and affordable; teachers of our schools can also consider using such texts as supplementary
materials in classroom
The language of these texts is generally more spontaneous and there are millions of such documents available everywhere around us, and all a teacher has to do is to choose some that would be appropriate for his/her planned curriculum. Even an advertisement leaflet of some product could be used to inform about adjectives and articles. News articles of popular topics including sports and movies could also be used for references to sentence constructions etc. And all these materials---pamphlets or newspapers, are very economical and easily collectible. Undeniably textbooks are a must-read for students, but when it comes to promoting creativity and natural English, it is high time to think out of the box concerning supplementary teaching materials.