A letter to the teachers of English: 38Let our graduates be employable. [Archives:2003/697/Education]

December 25 2003

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

Dear Fellow teachers,
In the recently concluded international conference on ELT in Hodeidah University, one of the guest speakers pointed out that unemployability of the graduates is a greater problem than unemployment in his country. What he meant is that the graduates going out of the universities in his country do not have enough proficiency in English. I think we have a message from him for our own situation as well.
Isn't true that employers in well-paid organizations in Yemen expect their prospective employees to be proficient in English? Isn't it our responsibility to see that the graduates passing out of our universities are proficient enough to communicate in English so that their employers find them useful? Isn't it also true that the onus is squarely on us, the teachers of English, both in schools and colleges? Aren't we aware that the graduates, while in employment, realize their inadequacy and spend a lot of money to equip themselves at the 'language institutes' mushrooming in this country?
All these are echo questions with only one answer 'yes'. How do we mend the situation in order to make our graduates employable? The Hodeidah Conference had the answer, though in piecemeal. Almost all the experts were saying the same thing, in their own ways, that the classroom teaching of English should involve the learners and provide them with challenging opportunities for learning. Several suggestions were made in this regard such as using intralingual and inter semiotic translation as teaching techniques, applying the principles of critical discourse analysis as a part of methodology, especially for teaching literature, and improving the testing procedure etc.
Taking the clues from the Conference, let's work out a useful methodology for teaching English in our classes, keeping in mind the aim that our graduates must be employable when they pass out of the universities. This methodology must incorporate the useful ideas of all the methodologies we have learnt in the Faculties of Education or read in ELT books. I always insist that the best method for a class is the one that the teacher develops through trial and error with his/her students in mind, provided he/she consciously and conscientiously develops it. If the aim is to make our graduates employable, the methodology should be one that enables and empowers the students, enable them to participate in the communicative activities in the classes and empower them to react to the realities of the situation. My tips for developing the reading skills in our learners, using the blackboard in our classes, handling the textbooks, making use of the classroom resources, being aware of the learner differences and so on in my earlier letters, for example, will help you in this task. You can think of more such techniques, if you care for your learners.
I have a special word to my colleagues teaching English in the universities. We'll have to make up the deficiencies, if any, in our students who come from the schools; the teachers in schools teach in difficult circumstances, most of the time with scant resources, within a straight jacketed curriculum, but we are in a better position, with more resources and more freedom to our advantage. Let's not throw up our hands in despair saying our students' competence is not up to the mark; it's our responsibility to enhance it.
Finally, it is time we look at the English curriculum, especially at the university level, closely and carefully, and gear it towards achieving the aim of making our graduates employable; or else all the resources, human as well as economic, spent at the university level will go waste. Let's do some soul searching and act accordingly. Good luck.
Yours fraternally,