English Language teaching in Pakistan: problems and possibilities
Language teaching and learning has gained more heed in the recent years, especially the practice of English language. Being a global language, English has received more attention compared to other languages. It is said to be the first global Lingua Franca and is used in international trade, diplomacy, mass entertainment and scientific publications (Rao, 2019). The supremacy of English language is also seen in Pakistan; where it holds the position of an official language. Despite being a vital language in Pakistan, English language teaching and learning is paired with many problems such as lack of facilities, use of wrong methodologies, less number of skilled teachers, lack of interest and many others. This paper discusses the obstacles faced in Pakistan while teaching and learning the English language, and how certain solutions can be extracted to create much better possibilities for the future.
The very first and vibrant problem regarding the practice of English language in Pakistan can be linked to the resistance most people and pupils show in the process of learning this language. They consider it an alien language, and pay less attention to learning or understanding it. This behavior then leads to demotivation in most learners. Research results show that motivation is one of the basic factors in an individual’s success at acquiring a second or foreign language (Tran, 2007). This ignorance can be lessened if the government of Pakistan spends more budgets on organizing awareness sessions regarding the importance of English language for the nation; however, this initiative may be effective at some level.
The second and very vital problem to be highlighted is the use of old methodologies by different educational institutes while teaching the English language. Most teachers in Pakistan rely on the Grammar Translation method to teach English language. They translate the words into their native language, followed by explanation of the rules of grammar that should be properly followed. This method has been very popular since decades but it has its drawbacks as well. Memushaj & Sogutlu (2019) argued that Grammar translation method gives the students a wide range of vocabulary, but unfortunately, the speaking performance of the pupils is not improved. Some instructors may go for the direct method where translation holds no place and everything is demonstrated with the help of gestures and English words. This method improves the communication skills of the pupils, but creates a sense of ambiguity; not everything can be translated. One possible solution to this problem could be the filtration of diverse teaching methodologies and relying on the ones with better outcomes for both the teachers and students.
The third obstacle in this process pairs with the qualification of the teachers. Majority of the language teachers are not well trained and qualified to teach the English language properly. The reason behind this could be the minimal interest of the government of Pakistan in the education system, especially the sector of language teaching and learning. This leads to the less effectiveness of the language lessons being taught inside classrooms. Bajrami (2015) states that a teacher that intends to benefit his learners should not only introduce various learning strategies, but also give them the opportunity to experience them practically. This problem can be dealt with by encouraging more teachers training sessions inside Pakistan. Teacher trainers, educationists, and decision makers should identify the bigger needs of society, and introduce institutional and organizational frameworks that could meet the needs of both the teachers and the students (Kelly, Grenfell, & Brett, 2002). Hence, by identifying the basic needs of the pupils in the field of English language learning, different institutional steps can be taken.
Another visible complication seen in Pakistan is the lack of proper teaching and learning facilities. With the emerging developments in the field of technology and online teaching platforms, it has become a vital requirement to stay connected with the outside world through social media and other platforms; which also benefits the teachers and students regarding access to other learning materials. If the basic facilities such as electricity and internet are not easily accessible, the pace of learning slows down. Many areas in Pakistan lack the basic vital needs, electricity and internet being two of them; giving on to the manual hard work of the teachers, which encourages conformity and abolishes creativity. Ahmadi (2018) exclaims that technology has always proved to be a prime aspect of a teaching and learning space as it assists the teacher in facilitating a learner’s learning. The void created by the lack of proper technological enhancements in Pakistan weakens and affects the learning sector immensely. Creativity is abolished and no new changes are made in the field of education. Hence, English language teaching and learning is further adversely influenced due to the lack of proper facilities. This problem can be resolved if the government introduces productive technological advancements inside the country so that the teachers and the students are also benefitted.
It can be observed that the factors challenging the learning and teaching of English language inside Pakistan for instance, the lack of basic facilities, less number of qualified teachers, cultural resistance, and use of old methodologies can have possible solutions. These possibilities may positively assist the process of English language teaching and learning if taken seriously. As educated individuals, it is our duty to pour out our views and challenge the old notions of language teaching methodologies. English language learning and teaching should be given more importance and heed as it is the basic need of global communication.