A letter to the teachers of English: 81Some interesting questions of the readers answered [Archives:2005/832/Education]

April 11 2005

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

Dear Fellow teachers,

I am glad that you have been reading my letters with great attention and a critical mind; this is what some of the letters I have received through my email from the readers show. I am not going to mention the names of these readers for two reasons: one, I don't know their names but only their email addresses and two, I am not interested in their names but their views and observations. I hope my readers will bear with me for I am using one of my letters for answering them; I am sure you will find them interesting and useful too.

One of the readers found my observations about teaching poems in secondary classes true but he/she suggests that poems can be introduced in the preparatory level, at least the basic aspects of poetry such as rhyme and rhythm. The argument in favour of this suggestion is that learners will have longer period of exposure to poetry and this will be more beneficial to them. The reader also argues that learners are exposed to poems in their mother tongue at an early stage and so poems in English should not create any problem.

It is an interesting suggestion indeed; I can go along with him/her in that learners can be familiarized with the poetic aspects such as rhyme at the preparatory level. This is the purpose of including a lot of nursery rhymes at this level; nursery rhymes, as the name suggests, are only for familiarizing them with rhymes (definitely not for the meaning of the rhymes; some of them have funny meaning!). That's all. Poems as such are difficult for the young learners and this might increase their dislike for English. It is generally believed that young learners should be exposed to English in a playful way so that they may not feel the pinch of it; nursery rhymes/songs, stories, comics, cartoons will help in this regard.

Another reader sent a long email in response to one of my letters on writing; it was a very responsible reaction to my letter in that he/she has written his/her reaction to each of the points I have discussed in the letter. I really appreciate his/her interest and efforts. I replied to him/her saying that he/she sends the letter to Yemen Times for publication but he/she didn't do it, I think. Though the reader agreed with most of what I have said in my letter, the main doubt raised in the letter was if one's style of writing can be changed at the later stage when one is at the college level; the reason for this doubt was that one's writing in one's mother tongue gets set at an early stage and this doesn't change easily later.

I realize that the doubt is genuine and well meant. But I have my doubts if one cannot change one's handwriting in one's mother tongue at a later stage; I have evidences for and against my own doubt. Someone's handwriting becomes the stamp for identifying him/her throughout his/her life; on the other hand, I have seen people improving their handwriting, if it is not good, with constant practice at a very late stage. If you remember, I have said in my letter that I learnt the Italic handwriting in English when I was about 27 and I have also trained many teachers of English in this type of writing successfully. So, I believe that one's handwriting can be changed at any stage, as handwriting is a skill like driving. Don't you learn driving at a later age?

I hope I have answered both the readers to their satisfaction and without boring you, I suppose. Do send your responses to my letters without any hesitation.

Yours fraternally,