ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING IN PAKISTAN
English is the official language of Pakistan while Urdu is the national language. Punjabi is the most commonly spoken language of Pakistan. Other significant languages spoken in Pakistan, in order of number of speakers, include Pashto, Sindhi, Saraiki and Balochi. English is mostly spoken by educated people (“Pakistan”, 2009).
Pakistani English is the Pakistani dialect of English language, widely spoken in Pakistan and the language sect is also used throughout other countries, normally through means of Pakistani citizens abroad. Although British Raj in South Asia lasted for almost two hundred years, the areas which comprise what is now Pakistan, were amongst the last to be conquered; Punjab, which included what is now the NWFP, was captured in 1849, Sindh a few years before; while Balochistan was never fully integrated into the Indian Empire. As a result English had less time to become part of local culture; that it did and is an integral part of the country’s social fabric due to several reasons. In 1947 upon Pakistan’s establishment, English became Pakistan’s de facto official language, a position which was formalized in the constitution of 1973 (“Pakistani English”, 2009).
Pakistani English shares many similarities with Indian English, however since Independence, there have been some very obvious differences. These include unique idioms and colloquial expressions as well as accents; foreign companies find accent naturalization easier in Pakistan than in India. However like Indian English, Pakistani English has preserved many phrases that are now considered antiquated in Britain (ibid.).
English, as mentioned earlier, is Pakistan’s official language. All government documents, military communications, street signs, many shop signs, business contracts and other activities are done in English. The language of the courts is also English. English is taught to all school level Pakistani students, and in many cases the medium of instruction is also in English. At College and University level all instruction is in English. Pakistan boasts a large English language press and media. All of Pakistan’s major dailies are published in or have an edition in English, while Dawn is a major English Language News Channel. Code Switching is very common in Pakistan and almost all conversations in whatever language have a significant English component (ibid.).
Pakistani English is heavily influenced by Pakistan’s languages as well as the English of other nations. Many words or terms from Urdu, such as ‘cummerbund’, have entered the global language and are also found in Pakistan. In addition the area which is now Pakistan was home to the largest garrisons of the British Indian Army, such as Rawalpindi and Peshawar. This, combined with the post – partition influence of the Pakistan Military, has ensured that many military terms have entered the local jargon (ibid.).
The type of English taught and preferred is British English. The heavy influence and penetration of American culture through television, films and other media has brought in great influences of American English also (ibid.).
Javed (2008, p. 104) writes the following words for English in Pakistan:
In Pakistan, the dominance of one language – English has become an accepted norm and the speakers of that language are assumed to have intellectual and social superiority. A linguistic hierarchy exists with the native English speaker on top, followed by the non – native speaker of English, leaving the non – English speaker at the bottom. The prestige attached to being comfortable with English language has made it a must – have tool for most young people.
“50 percent of people in Pakistan have basic understanding of English.” (“Pakistani English”, 2009) English as a subject is given much importance in Pakistani educational system. There are basically three kinds of schools in the country – private schools that according to N. Khan (2002) cater for the upper class; the government schools who serve the middle or classes of population and the Madrassah, the religious school.
N. Khan (2002) says that private schools have become a necessity for contemporary Pakistani society since the government has failed to provide quality education for its population. Even parents with lower income prefer to educate their children to private schools for quality education. Most Pakistanis want their children to learn English. Private schools offer all instruction in English while government schools offer instruction in either Urdu or the local provincial language (ibid.).
Apart from the private schools, there are a number of institutes which claim to make people efficient in English language skills and thus running various courses has emerged as a much profitable business for these institutions. Javed (2008, p. 106) writes about such institutions that:
The market for English language is huge, undoubtedly, what with the yawning gap left by the educational standards in schooling. As with private schools, English language institutions have mushroomed in the last decade or so in response to the pressing demand. But again like private schools, barring a few big names, the quality of instruction at these institutes remains suspect.
Discussing about the situation he further writes:
While the reason for students taking up English courses are many and varied, on the flip side one cannot help but wonder how the market for these institutions came into existence at all, when English is a compulsory subject from the school level onward. The answer is all too simple and obvious unfortunately: the standard of English taught at government –run schools, as well as the cheaper private schools is much below par. (Javed, 2008, p. 106)
English in Pakistan is used as official and second language. It is used by small but extremely influential portion of the population. In Pakistan it is used in civil administration, bureaucratic communication, federal as well as provincial government, mass media, legal and military system. The constitution and laws are presented in English and it is also used extensively by armed forces for communication, documentation, to issue field orders and to train officers and personnel. In fact the knowledge of English is essential for office going people and the question for their promotion without it does not arise (Ghani, 1999, p. 104).
Ghani (1999, p. 105) writes that English in Pakistan serves as a gateway to success, higher education, and white color jobs. “Socially, English has been adopted as a polite and prestigious means of interaction among educated Pakistanis: those who know it are considered educated. In Pakistan, English as a second language has had a significant impact both economically and educationally.”
English is the only foreign language used for writing in hospitals, banks, airports, markets, factories, in competitive exams, like CSS and PSC. There are a number of employments where mastery over spoken and written English is required and a reasonable knowledge of English guarantees better paid employment opportunities (ibid.).
English was supposed to continue as the official language of Pakistan till national language(s) replaced it. “However, … English is as firmly entrenched in the domains of power in Pakistan as it was in 1947” (Rahman, 2003, p. 4).
Rahman also gives details about the dominance of English that the Civil Service of Pakistan and the officer corps of the armed forces, had a stake in the continuation of English because it differentiated them from the masses; gave them a competitive edge over those with Urdu – medium or traditional education. Even now, as the members of these two elites come mostly from the lower – middle and middle classes and who have studied in Urdu – medium schools want to preserve and strengthen English to enter the ranks of elite (ibid.).
At elementary stage the students do not have a clear idea of the importance of learning English but when they are getting secondary level education and then the college education later on, they realize the importance of education in their personal career and in society in general (Ghani, 1999, p. 107).
The difference of competence of English becomes evident in intermediate and graduate levels where English becomes the medium of instruction for science group. Students from Urdu medium schools find it hard to come up with science subjects and despite having a strong aptitude for medical and engineering cannot get admission into medical and engineering colleges because they cannot comprehend and later on reproduce the material written in English (p. 108). There is a discrepancy in the availability of language learning facilities in government and private English/Urdu medium schools. English medium schools provide better learning facilities e.g. well equipped English language libraries, audio – visual aids and computers etc. These learning aids help the students to learn English language more successfully. On the other hand, Urdu medium schools are generally less influential schools and are less popular in the country (p. 110).
Hassan (2000, p. xi) expresses his dissatisfaction with the written output of senior students also. He writes that teacher’s daily chore of proof reading and marking and correcting assignments does not seem to result in any visible improvement. According to him second draft submitted by students are “as bad as the first one.” They “repeat mistakes corrected so painstakingly in the first one.” They remain reluctant to write.
In recent years, with more young people from the affluent classes appearing in the British O’ and A’ level examinations, with the world – wide coverage of the BBC and the CNN, with globalization and the talk about English being a world language, with stories of young people emigrating all over the world armed with English—with all these things English is a commodity in more demand than ever before (Rahman, 2003, p. 5).
Rahman carried out a survey of 1085 students from different schools in Pakistan in 1999 – 2000. The results of this survey regarding English suggested that 16 year – old students of Matriculation in Pakistani schools are not in favor of English as the medium of instruction in schools other than that it is taught in English medium schools only, as they suffer because of English. He explains this situation in these words:
However, paradoxically, even school students do not support the abolition of English –medium schools. Perhaps this seems too radical, visionary and impractical to them. Perhaps they feel that English – medium schools provide good quality education and should remain available for the modernization of the country. Or perhaps they understand that such schools are a ladder out of the ghetto of their socio – economic class to a privileged class which their siblings or children might make use of. In short, it is probably because of their pragmatism and a shrewd realization that nothing is going to change that they want the English – medium schools to keep flourishing. (ibid.)
The children of elite English – medium schools are indifferent to Urdu and claim to be completely bored by its literature. They are proud to claim lack of competence in the subject even when they get ‘A’ grades in the O’ and A’ level examination. They read only English books and not Urdu ones nor those in other languages (Rahman, 2003, p. 8).
Khurram (2001a , p. 8) holding the educational system responsible for poor output with regards to the English language teaching writes:
…In Pakistan, English is more taught than learned and more learned than used…How many of us watch an English movie without reading the subtitles; speak English fluently with foreigners; pick up books to read at our leisure; and actually love to write…Most of us are not active listeners; we hesitate to speak in English; we can read books but choose not to; and are totally unhinged even at the thought of writing. It is obvious that even when we are exposed to English from an early age most of us get little sense of mastery over it.
PROBLEMS WITH TEACHING OF ENGLISH IN PAKISTAN
The English language enjoys great popularity in Pakistan. The people of Pakistan are very enthusiastic in learning this language. They spend a large amount of their income in this area and learning of English and using it fluently is a mark of high prestige for them (Yasmeen, 2005, p. 32). But this is also true that in spite of all these efforts there are a number of problems in the way of teaching and learning of English that, if it is to be summarized, would come forth as follows:
Aziz Tabani, director operations, Sindh Education Foundation, says that:
Key to teaching good English lies in whether it is taught as a language or as a subject, and in most schools it is taught as a subject. The dilemma in Pakistan is that most schools do not have qualified teachers who are specifically trained for English language teaching. Children who go to government schools usually do not have exposure to English in their homes. They study English as a subject with no reference to the culture of the language which is acquired through its literature and that results in poor linguistic skills. (Javed, 2008, p. 106)
Zafar (2008, p. 23) has quoted a letter which was written by the chairman HEC in January 2008 to all the vice chancellors and heads of degree awarding institutes in Pakistan.
Universities are … advised to prepare plans for increasing students’ English language proficiency and enhance their communication skills for academic and professional purposes … I also urge you to ensure that you do not employ any faculty members unless they have demonstrated their English speaking skills.
Zafar writes that “the letter points out dissatisfaction with the present English language proficiency of the students” (ibid.). Ghani (1999, p. 113) also points out that in Pakistan a typical English language classroom is a teacher centered classroom. No endeavor is made to use simple English while delivering a lecture. The learners are not encouraged to participate in the classroom actively. If a student wants to ask a question, he is discouraged straightaway.
Ghani (1999, p. 112) believes that the main reason for the poor standard in English language teaching in Pakistan is that the English teachers do not have formal training of teaching of language. Anyone who has passed BA is appointed as a teacher at school level with no special training in English language or teaching of it. An MA in English language starts teaching at college level without having any formal English language training. At secondary level where the foundation of English is laid teachers are either untrained simply BA or MA or they are those holding a degree of B Ed. In B Ed. English is taught as an optional subject.
The conventional grammar translation method used by all teachers. It is a fact that teachers, after completing their BA, with poor exposure to methodology and language in use, start teaching English language. “Because they themselves are the product of old traditional approaches and textbooks, they find it difficult to adopt new ELT methodologies” (ibid.).
Teachers only feed the students with vocabulary and grammar and a great amount of work in class is expended on making them aware of the major theme in the text being taught. That is why the students do not find an opportunity to communicate or practice the language with one another (ibid.). With the passage of time, new developments are obvious in the teaching methodology of a language. Now linguistics is the only area in which a language teacher is to be trained (Sher & A. Khan, 2002, p. 152).
Some teachers have poor listening and speaking skills and they rely on their vocabulary and grammatical understanding of the English language. While this may be true for many older professionals still engaged in the teaching of English, many younger teachers now entering the system appear to place greater emphasis on developing competency in all areas of the language. Some teachers also work hard to incorporate greater use of oral English within the classroom (Hasan, 2006, p. 23).
In order to make the language learning process a more motivating experience, instructors need to put a great deal of thought into developing program which maintain student interest and have obtainable short term goals. At the university level this may include any number of foreign exchange program with other universities, or any other activities which may help to motivate students to improve their target language proficiency (ibid.).
18.104.22.168 FAULTY METHODS
“Pakistan is perhaps the most backward country of South Asia in the field of linguistics” (Rahman, 1999, p. 26). Khurram (2001c, p. 9) writes that for a great extent the methods through which English is taught in typical Pakistani classrooms, are responsible for not having mastery of English even studying it throughout the educational career. A lucid outline of the – say for example future tense, lesson is set out on the black board. The teacher explains in great detail the traditional rules for the use and if the students experience difficulty in understanding the teacher translates it in the mother language. And then applies the rules to English. The students copy the rules in their notebooks with various examples. The teacher also asks a few questions. “When students appear to have grasped the rule they are presented with isolated sentences … artificially constructed to include all the possible aspect of the rule they have studied. Students settle down to carry out the grammar exercises.” Those students who cannot finish the task in the class are assigned the rules for homework. The students may be told that the next lesson would begin with a test of the rules.
Khurram (2001c, p. 9) writes that such teaching methods are merely “an abject display of teacher’s ignorance about real English and its usage as such teacher believes that the students can use English in real life situations if they practice grammar ‘without putting their minds at it till it becomes their second nature.” Such a teacher is “sacrificing a real lifelike communication in … class by making the students practice a few inanely invented isolated sentences.”
The result of this belief and practice – is for all those who have eyes to see and only one judgment is enough: a downhill slide. We can see that students who have been taught English by chopping it up into small pieces are not able to put it again together. Therefore, when it comes to listening, our students are not able to produce connected speech because they have only read or heard isolated sentences. The general lack of attention to ‘oracy’ in this method – the ability to deal with spoken language, either spoken production or listening comprehension in this method – stops students from taking a meaningful part in the world around them. (Khurram, 2001c, p. 9)
Khurram believes that this teaching method either minimizes the creative power of the students or hinders to it (2001c, p. 9).
Ghani (1999, 113) writes that the grammar translation method is used in Pakistani institutions from primary up to graduate level. Learners are taught through systematic study of the English language. The teacher reads a story or lesson or translates it into Urdu or any regional language. The rhetorical, grammatical or contextual clues are totally ignored that may help students guess the meanings of the unfamiliar words in the text. “If an enthusiastic teacher wants to adopt new methodology of teaching, he receives a negative response from his colleagues and the students.” He is supposed to teach relevant syllabus from examination point of view only.
The English teachers are bombarded with so many methods like Grammar Translation Method, Direct Method, Audio Lingual Method and Cognitivism to the Suggestopedia and Situational Methods. The literature is full of terms like “integrative, instrumental motivation, generative transformational grammar, analytic, holistic, cognitive style, functional – notional approach and discourse analysis etc.” (Sher & A. Khan, 2002, p. 151). In modern teaching methodology the emphasis is laid upon learner instead of old concept when the teacher was supposed to be enough to teach a language. Each learner is an individual with distinct needs, learning style, personality traits, mental schemata and attitude. In this way, only one teaching methodology cannot fulfill the requirement of all learners at the same time. Therefore a teacher has to be eclectic in teaching. It should be up to a teacher to select activities, material and exercises in accordance with the requirements of the learners (p. 152).
Khalid (2006, p. 84) writes about teaching of English in Pakistan that students’ failure ratio in the subject of English is much more than it is in any other subject in Board as well as in University exams. Even those who achieve high grades in English in these examinations cannot speak or write in it well. He declares the reason that the teachers mostly stress on rote learning and do not bother upon speaking of a few sentences in the class. The main purpose is to pass the subject of language with the help of memorizing some particular lessons, essays and letters. These students mostly fail in competitive examinations and lay the blame of their failure on education system and interview as the examination of which they were familiar, was merely a test of written language. The importance of speaking and pronunciation they realize when they step into a need of its practical use.
The examination system gives advantages to those who have a good memory and can cram the material irrespective of being understood. The topper of the Karachi Board matriculation examination 2008 in science group said that she had to rely on cramming to a great extend to secure first position while the girl on the second position declared that she could not understand Islamic and Pakistan studies and had to cram these subjects to pass (“Jang”, July 31, 2008). The evaluation and testing procedures are needed to be changed according to the needs of the syllabi (Sher & A. Khan, 2002, p. 150).
Shamsi (2006, p. 49) writes that students and teachers have become examination minded and do not bother about the real teaching – learning of language. “Things important from examination point of view are taken up.” There is only a fear of examination and no learning in the real sense of the word.
Faiq (2006) writes that in Pakistan evaluation usually means pencil and paper test at the end of each academic year with an objective to pass or fail students. One can compare this system of evaluation with a doctor who diagnoses using obsolete tools and ends up killing the patient through a faulty diagnosis.
Schools, exam boards and universities conduct examinations and anyone, who has studied in the mainstream system of education, knows about the unfairness of these exams. “From a psychological point of view, the environment in which the students are examined through a pencil and paper test is uncomfortable and boring to say the least.” Cheating goes on in these exams and while a body search is compulsory for students before entry. In most schools and colleges where exams are conducted there is no proper arrangement for seating, drinking water, and fans or toilets. The question papers are usually based on textbooks littered with facts. Most teachers are not properly trained in the preparation of measurement tools and prefer close – ended questions with just one correct answer.
The only prerequisite to obtaining a good grade is that one should have good memory to appear in Pakistani examination system. “Whoever can memorize things more efficiently, even without proper understanding, can get high marks.” Evaluation does not require reflection or critical thinking. The language of the question paper, its structure and sequence of the questions are also ambiguous adding to the worries of the students (ibid.).
The guiding philosophy of the existing evaluation system in the majority of Pakistani institutions is based on behaviorist orientation, i.e. premium placed on imitation and repetition. There are some famous questions repeatedly given in papers. Consequently, teachers teach some selected chapters from the prescribed text and students can easily guess accurately what is there to come in the examination. In the school, some teachers even go as far as making some of the better students mark exam scripts of a lower class (ibid.).
The evaluation process in Pakistan is socially and culturally biased also. It does not consider the social status and exposure of the examinee nor his cultural mores. The same questions are asked from students who are socially, culturally, and financially different from one another. “As a result, the students evaluated through this system are neither locally accepted nor internationally compatible.” Evaluation has become a formality and actually ends up discouraging learners. In addition, it only highlights the negative side and ignores many positive qualities that learners may have (ibid.).
The marking of papers and examination duties have become almost a business. Teachers, lecturers, professors and even staff working in examination boards and universities are making money through unfair practices. There is an intense need to understand and implement appropriate evaluation strategies based on professionalism and fairness (ibid.).
“Ninety percent of the world’s learners of English study in low resources classes of 40 and upwards and yet research into the effect of being a learner in a large class is still limited to small interested groups of academics” (Westrup, 1998, p. 16).
Farooqi (2008, p. 21) calls the teacher of a large class in “cramped situation” for 45 to 60 minutes. Big classroom is a major problem in Pakistani schooling system. Ghani (1999, p. 114) writes that it is normal to find more than 100 students in every English class which takes more than six or seven minutes to settle down and 10 minutes to take roll call. A lot of time is wasted in this way. It is difficult for a teacher to deliver a lecture loud enough to be heard by students sitting on the last benches. The classrooms are ill – furnished, poorly ventilated in summer or improperly heated in winter. Often three students have to share a desk meant for two.
Shamsi (2006, p. 49) believes that crowded classes hamper the learning of English and the teacher cannot do justice to his duty of paying individual attention to the learners.
The environment and physical conditions under which English is taught are very poor. Mostly there are no good seating arrangements. Rooms are dark and not airy. The noise from the neighboring classes disturbs the studies. Neither the teacher nor the students are able to concentrate properly (Shamsi, 2006, p. 50).
According to Razwani (2008, p. 16) the losses of more than 17, 000 precious lives of school children in the earthquake of 2005, is a proof of the low standard of physical conditions under which the schools are built.
M. A. Khan (2006, p. 23) writes that in Pakistan, teaching from books to students is integral part of the educational system. The textbook plays a significant role unlike developed countries where education is not merely imparted through books. A shortage of textbooks or even unavailability at the start of each academic year disturbs both students and teachers. At the start of session in 2006, many students in Karachi found themselves without their prescribed course books which were, according to shopkeepers, unavailable in the market.
In a majority of private institutes, textbooks along with notebooks and various items of stationary are supplied by the school administration to the booksellers of their choice. This forces parents to buy textbooks from those stores meaning that there are only a few bookshops that have the prescribed course books. This in turn means that there is a great demand which booksellers are often unable to meet, resulting in a do – or – die situation for both parents and students (ibid.).
The use of interesting text can help to increase the motivation level of students in the classroom. Many Pakistani texts often contain material, which fails to capture the interest of students due to the heavy emphasis on vocabulary and grammar. Many foreign texts, however, which have been designed for teaching of English as a foreign language, contain topics, which can create a great deal of classroom interaction and help to motivate students to develop their language skills. It is important for the instructor to take advantage of such topics and help students to realize that the study of another language and culture can enhance their perception and understanding of other cultures (Hasan, 2006, p. 23).
The Pakistani student is a prisoner of textbooks most of which, produced by state – owned textbook boards, are badly written and badly produced, besides being wholly inaccurate. The average student does not possess the skills required for a study of textual information and even when s/he does, the text is sparse and desperately degraded. Our pupils have not learned to recognize and distinguish between main and supporting ideas in their responses, and fail to add to it inputs of their own experiences and perceptions (Abbas, 2008).
There are a number of problem areas in the recently developed EFL textbooks and that any attempt to force a linguistic change in the absence of its corresponding social change seems to be unworkable and futile (Wahab, 2008, p. 21).
Ghani (1999, p. 113) writes that the syllabus for secondary and higher secondary level classes in Pakistan is structural in its real meaning. During the academic year the teachers only emphasizes to finish the course work. He spends most of his time on teaching from the books because he is under pressure to finish the course.
Sher & A. Khan (2002, p. 150) write that syllabus designing in Pakistan is a big problem. “There is no proper planning to design a course according to the requirements of the students at the respective levels.” They write that:
At the present English is taught through literary texts; in this way communication of the students could not be developed. Stress is given on usage rather than use.
If we go through the syllabi at the intermediate level, we notice that it includes the poems by Shelly, Keats, Blake, Wordsworth, Eliot and Yeats. The students face lot of problems to understand literary language of these poets. As a matter of fact, literary language is different from the daily life. This is the reason our students could not achieve the competence to use language in or out of the classroom. In the exams students reproduce all the material just like the parrots. From this literary text students could not be able to get command of English linguistically, rather this kind of text is an obscurity for them. (ibid.)
The grammar portion in the syllabus also looks more theoretical than for practical use. Students prefer to cram it to pass the exams only. Due to this faulty designing of syllabi a lot of problems are being faced (ibid.).
Hassan (2000, p. xii) writes that “the study of English is caught and restricted by the constraints of a syllabus plan decided for schools in the local system decades ago.” This is confirmed by the “rising number of parents, who, at considerable cost, insist on sending their children to English – medium schools.
LACK OF TRAINING MATERIAL
Theoretically there are suggestions for new ELT material to be used in the government schools but practically they are not used. Suitable books in this regard are not easily available or otherwise are of little use as the majority of the teachers are not trained to adopt new techniques and approaches (Ghani, 1999, p. 113). There is no provision of audio visual material in government schools and colleges. Only few private schools or institutions in big cities like Lahore, Karachi, Multan and Islamabad have such provisions (p. 114). The situation is pointed out in the following words:
Enthusiastic and hardworking teachers cannot sometimes perform their duties properly due to lack of modern language learning facilities. In Pakistan, most of the schools and colleges have very poor library facilities, and the number of books in English or on the teaching of English is almost negligible. Students are not encouraged to go to libraries. At school level especially in villages, the conditions are worse. The blackboard and the few pieces of chalk is the only teaching and provided to teachers and there is no provision of well – equipped libraries, audio – visual aids. The lack of these facilities seriously hinders the improvement of English teaching in this situation. (ibid.)
Shamsi (2006, p. 50) writes that correction work also becomes a major problem sometimes. In teaching of a language correction work is very important and even more while teaching a foreign language. On the other hand, the English teacher has the same number of periods as teachers of other subjects and his workload on account of correction work is not well considered. The teachers are unable to do it correctly and the language teaching and learning deteriorates at last.
In the words of Shamsi (2006, p. 50) supervision of English teacher, when done by head of the school, is also a kind of interference in his work. The head may not be acquainted with techniques of language teaching. His criticism, which may be undue and unnecessary at times, may dishearten the teacher and affects his interest in language teaching.
INTERFERENCE BY PARENTS
Shamsi (2006, p. 50) observed that there may be interference by the parents also that may disturb the teaching and learning progress:
Inference by the parents in the work of teachers hinders the progress. When the teacher makes efforts to apply the new ways of teaching English, he faces a set back due to the interference by the parents whose children are studying there. The parents may be of orthodox type. They themselves were taught in same way. If the teacher spends time on giving the learners just listening and speaking practice, the parents fell as if nothing has been taught. They judge the work on the basis of written exercises only. Under such circumstances the teacher has to change himself, his methodology and teach the way parents like. Thus undue interference of the parents deteriorates the situation.
LACK OF MOTIVATION
Hasan (2006, p. 23) writes that motivation and the role it plays in the successful learning of English in Pakistan is a complex matter. One cannot simply observe input, in terms of the amount of time spent studying the language and then output, expressed as linguistic performance when investigating language learning. If language learning in the Pakistani context is overviewed, one factor that contributes towards language motivation is the structure of university entrance exams, which ultimately determine the institution to which a student gains acceptance.
Due to the way these exams are structured, schools and instructors are forced to educate students in a manner, which will prove most useful to them. Therefore, the focus of what is taught in secondary school is geared toward passing such entrance examinations. These exams are a rigorous test of grammatical understanding of the English language, with students being required to translate complex passages and to have knowledge of extensive vocabulary and grammatical structures. The focus of the exams is not directed toward the speaking and listening skills of students. For this reason schools see no need to prepare students for something, which will not be examined. Having to undertake such university exams is the main reason or source of motivation for students studying English. Certainly, a high percentage of Pakistani school students identify the major reason for English as necessity for achievement in examinations (ibid.).
Motivation for studying English peaks in the final year of secondary school when students channel their energies into studying for university entrance. Once students gain entrance to a university, motivation to continue learning English is sometimes diminished. Many first – year students appear to have no academic purpose. In direct contrast to this, however, is the strong desire of many adults to once again resume study. This often takes place in the many private foreign language schools, which provide classes at all times of the day (ibid.).
Pakistan is perhaps, a unique environment in which to learn English, especially when taking into consideration the many factors, which influence the manner in which the language is taught. Although change may be slow to the education system, the introduction of the English language as a subject in elementary school, in recent years, can help to further motivate students to achieve higher levels of proficiency in the future (ibid.).
Yasmeen (2005, p. 32) writes that English pronunciation is the most neglected area of English language in Pakistan. She opines that learning English without correct pronunciation is just like singing a song without music. “Just as music adds melody and rhythm to a particular song, similarly correct pronunciation adds the real sense to learning a particular language.”
Pronunciation is defined as a way of speaking a word especially a way that is accepted or generally understood (Hasan, 2005, p. 21). “Having knowledge of English is very important, especially, when it is … second language, but the sad bit is that English is taught and learnt in Pakistan by neglecting its important aspect, … pronunciation” (ibid). “…English is learnt and taught in Pakistan by using wrong and unreasonable ways.” Fluency and accuracy are got without correct pronunciation. In author’s opinion it is most probably because of using the language without any major communication breakdown. However this is a wrong approach towards learning a language because learning without pronunciation is in fact “learning to distort that language” (ibid).
Hasan (ibid.) writes that it is “reasonable to expect all students to do well in learning the pronunciation of a foreign language.” Pronunciation has virtually no role in the grammar – translation method but is the main focus in the audio – lingual method. With the emphasis on meaningful communication and that intelligible pronunciation is an essential component of communication competence. “Without adequate pronunciation skills the learner’s ability to communicate is severely limited.” A given non – native speaker’s pronunciation, if falls below this level, he will not be able to communicate orally no matter how good his or her control of English grammar and vocabulary might be. “The skills of listening comprehension and pronunciation are interdependent. If they cannot hear English well, they are cut off from the language. If they cannot be understood easily, they are cut off from conversation …”
INFLUENCES OF MOTHER LANGUAGE
Pervez (2008, p. 21) writes that in Pakistan, as a society so much emphasis is laid on English language that its being a second or even third language for most of Pakistanis is forgotten. Despite colonial background, the prevalent media, and schools’ English – only policies, English is not a native language. No matter how many English words are fed into children from the very beginning of their lives, they still grow up in a predominantly Urdu environment. This is true for the vast majority of households in major cities of Pakistan.
Shamsi (2006, p. 53) examines how interference by the mother tongue hampers learning of English. In this opinion, this happens in the following ways:
It is difficult to find exact equivalents of English in a mother language so if a student is doing translation work it is only and will always be approximate (ibid.). The alphabets of English are 26 while in other language they may be more. Many local languages are phonetic but English is not. Writing systems are different. Many consonant sounds of English are not found in local languages. Stress, intonation and rhythm of English are quite different from local languages. The sentence patterns are also different. Interrogative sentence formation is also different. In local languages, the verb undergoes a change but in English it remains the same according to each gender (p. 54). The structural words of English are not equivalent to the words of local languages. In mother tongue, the students are in a habit of producing some sounds. While producing English, they come across two sounds e.g. V and W which are different but students pronounce them in the same way (p. 55).
NO SPECIFIC REASON TO TEACH OR LEARN
Zafar (2008, p. 23) writes that in Pakistan the purpose of learning English language is only ‘because it is an international language.’ “English language taught in most institutions here fall under the acronym ‘TENOR’ that is Teaching English for No Obvious Reason.” According to him learners of English language, “are taught things that they do not need and what they need is not taught to them.” Therefore, students even after “years of teaching English behind them …are still inadequately equipped to cope with the demands of professional English.” He further says that the government of Pakistan invests a huge amount on the teaching of English language but because this teaching lacks specificity, desired results are not achieved.
Rahim (2009, p. 21) points out that the importance of school libraries had been realized by the government but could not do much in Pakistan. The private sector schools have taken an edge in this regard with proper finances and professional librarians. Private school students are to a greater extent free from passive memorization of the texts while creating an intellect and original thinking among themselves.