We should agree that our first and foremost task is to teach the English language to our students. The teaching of English to our schools is designed to fulfill a number of demands, some of which conflict with others.
Among these demands are the need to pass the examination, the necessity for achieving a minimum degree of competence in the use of English language, the need to teach a fairly large number of students in a limited time, the demand to stay within the limits of the resources available in the schools. Because of the external examination system, the teacher is not entirely free to select his own books, his own syllabus and his own consideration of what is important.
In spite of all limitations and difficulties, a teacher of English must try to achieve the objective of teaching English to our students at school. We are expected to develop in our students a reasonable degree of competence in understanding spoken English, in speaking English, in reading English, and in writing English.
Every language is a series of sounds, arranged in groups that convey meaning to the listeners. We receive sounds through our ears. In order to learn a language, ear-training is very essential. Unless we hear the correct sounds and pay close attention to them, we shall not be able to produce the same sounds ourselves.
There can be no learning of a language without exposing the learner to that language. We must take into account the kinds of English to which our students are normally exposed and what opportunity, therefore, they have to learn the English language.
There is little opportunity for our students to listen to spoken English outside the classroom. They would naturally copy the model set before them by the teacher. Therefore, it is important that the teacher of the English language must acquire a fairly good standard of speech.
The teacher should provide his students with a variety of situations and experiences of listening to the spoken language. A language learner experiences difficulties with the sounds of a foreign language, both when listening and speaking. Trying to help students with their pronunciation can also be annoying for the teacher.
The teacher should tackle this problem by considering first what the learner as the listener has to deal with, i.e. the nature of spoken English. Then to help the learner to cope with the stream of sound as input, and finally how to help the learner to develop satisfactory pronunciation.
At the initial stage, the teacher has to carry out the hard and boring task of repeating himself many times in order to convey the correct sounds to the children’s ears. He has also to ensure their interest and attention. The teacher has to cultivate in them the habit of attentive listening.
Therefore the first experiences in listening should be made pleasant. For this, the
teacher should be as soft and sweet as possible. He should also make the students actively participate in the lesson.
The ability to read English with understanding is the skill which will be needed most by our students in their future life– while acquiring education as well as in practical life. However, asking the students to read aloud is of little value in helping them to develop into an efficient reader because normally, reading is a silent and individual activity.
Of course, a teacher of English needs a high level of skill in reading aloud since he has to provide a good model of the written language (Textbook) for his listeners to listen to. Most of the exposure to English language in our schools take place through the reading of texts.
Nearly all new learning takes place while the pupil is reading. Therefore, the quantity and quality of reading are of the first importance. The textbooks of English must provide the situations and the contexts in which learning takes place.
The learner should make a beginning with the commonplace English and gradually move to the difficult and literary aspect of the language, first, those words and sentences should be introduced in the reading material which he has been listening and which relate to his experience and knowledge.
This should be followed by simple stories and descriptions of familiar objects. The general principle for the reading text should be, “very simple English at the early stage, simple English at the middle stage and full English at the high stage”.