A letter to the teachers of English: 59Refresh your language periodically [Archives:2004/802/Education]

December 27 2004

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

Dear Fellow teachers,

Refreshing is essential for happy and active life. When you are tired, you feel like drinking something in order to refresh yourself; when you are bored, you feel like an outing or a TV show. All these are essential ingredients for a healthy and happy life. Similarly you need to refresh your language when you get 'language fatigue', which means you are tired of using the same words again and again or same expressions too often. The refreshing in the mother tongue takes place unconsciously throughout your life, as you live with it. In English too, you need refreshing now and then.

Why do we need refreshing in English? English, like any living language, keeps changing in the process of its growth and development. New words are added, new expressions are created, the existing words get new meaning and new pronunciation and all these are marks of growth. You will be surprised to know that the word 'nice' meant 'silly' in Shakespeare's days; it has taken a summersault in less than 400 years. Similarly the pronunciation of the word 'deity' has changed today. One can think of many examples in English in this regard. Apart from this, if you read the history of the English language, you will be wonderstruck when you look at the words in old English, which is the ancestor of English; letter 'c', for example, never had the 's' sound in old English. In fact, some of what we consider as errors in present day English were parts of the old English system. This is natural in any living language, including Arabic. I am told that a lot of new words have been added to the Arabic vocabulary since the invention of computer.

Because of this property of English, growth involving changes, we should be aware of the changes taking place in it; refreshing our language is the only way. We can consult a good dictionary, which is not very old, and come to know of these changes, because good dictionaries present the latest pronunciation and meaning of words. In addition, listening to the English news bulletins on TV and radio, reading English magazines can keep us up to date. These are some of the ways of refreshing our English on our own.

Teachers of English need to attend the refresher courses conducted by the Ministry of Education, whenever they are conducted. I am aware that several such courses are conducted by the Inspectorates with the help of experts from Britain and Germany. I am also aware of such courses conducted by some organizations for the benefit of the teachers. As teachers of English, you should jump at the opportunities, when available, to attend the courses for refreshing your language.

It is important that the Ministry should organize refresher courses periodically in order to help the teachers to keep themselves up to date. In addition to helping them with the language, these refresher courses should enable them to clarify their doubts in the teaching methodology and classroom problems. I have already highlighted the need for professional associations for the teachers of English in this country. I have also made suggestions to the Education minister as to how to organize in-service courses for the teachers of English in a cost-effective manner.

Do keep yourselves up to date in English. Good luck.

Yours fraternally,