A letter to the teachers of English: 35A Recap [Archives:2003/694/Education]

December 15 2003

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb.

Dear Fellow teachers,
In this letter, I would like to recollect what all I have said in my letters so far. A real teacher, aren't I ? This is for your benefit as well as mine, so that we know what we are talking about, whether I am talking sense or not, whether you have found any use for my letters at all.
I started saying that you can use Arabic in your English classes, but with a caution not to overuse it or underuse it; I listed out the occasions when you can use it. Then I shared with you my experience of how the 'thaboor' sessions can be used for developing English skills in your learners. Talking about the use of the blackboard in the English classes, I pointed out the ways of using it effectively. There were tips to use the textbook as an aid, without getting tied down to it.
How to learn from your learners and how to treat your learner errors tactfully were the themes of my letters that followed. Then there were suggestions for collecting good pictures and storing them in an album for the future use and also for making use of what is available in the classroom for teaching English. Stressing the need for using as much English as possible in the classes in order to make your classroom language a rich source of learning, I also made a suggestion that reading anything and everything will improve your language competence.
The learner difference, which is an essential factor in classroom teaching, was paid attention to in a later letter; the differences among teachers were also paid attention to. How to provide meaningful repetition and qualitative exposure was discussed in one of my letters. The importance to be given to reading, especially in an EFL situation like Yemen, was highlighted in a couple of letters along with the ways of teaching silent reading and oral reading. The point to be remembered is that reading habit is infectious and so you should develop the habit of reading in order to influence your learners.
One of the recent letters underlined the need for taking the learners' language level into consideration when we select the teaching materials for them; this was, in fact, a request to my fellow teachers who are 'teaching' (we are not called teachers, but assistant/associate professors) in the universities, who sometimes misuse the valuable autonomy given to them by the universities.
There were a series of letters centering round language testing, in which several useful things were discussed and a few suggestions were made as to how to make the learners less anxious about tests and so on. I also presented a few observations of the common examination question papers used in this country with a view to making suggestions for the improvement in the future.
I sincerely believe, as a few readers have pointed out in their letters, that these letters provide some useful tips to you, my fellow teachers, to help you in your classroom teaching. I have never assumed that these are the solutions to the various academic problems you face in your English classes. I am only trying to open a venue, through my letters, for you to think about your classroom problems and make an attempt to find your own solutions. You are welcome to share your experiences through the columns of Yemen Times with me and other fellow professionals in the country.

Yours fraternally,
Dr.M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])