Corona crisis has already disrupted the normal routine life of students across the world. Like other countries the educational institutions of Bangladesh have been temporarily closed in an attempt to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In these unprecedented days, students are spending their time with widespread panic and uncertainty staying home leaving their institutional accommodations. This crisis has made them think differently away from the routine works they have become habituated over the years of schooling. The scholarly researches and education have been really at stake in this time of closure. However, students can boost up their language skills in these days of closure following a number of language learning strategies staying at home.
Languages are generally taught and assessed in terms of the ‘four skills’: listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Listening and reading are known as ‘receptive’ skills while speaking and writing are known as ‘productive’ skills.
In order to develop overall English language skills one needs to follow the instructions step by step as in the most cases we cannot come out of success in language teaching learning because of defective directions to be followed .
Listening is the first of the four gears of a language though in our country teachers hardly get students involved in practicing listening. Think how a baby learns how to talk; until it listens, can it be able to speak? In the primitive age people could not speak; whenever they could hear or listen different sounds surrounding them, could try to imitate the sort of sounds to communicate among their other fellows. Different researches show that listening influences a person’s speaking ability positively and makes him confident to speak in the public. Recently I asked one of my students in my language class what actually helped him to speak in such an excellent way in the class and he retorted, “Sir, I spend my free time in video gaming on computer, and the change you notice in me is the outcome of recurrent involvement in gaming”. So you may call listening is a start of a positive mind set for learning English.
Boost up your speaking skill through listening in this time of crisis and in this connection, choose diverse listening materials as you feel interested and must listen or watch movies, debate, story- telling, motivational speeches and practice different level of listening audios and videos from elementary to advanced level in English that you can easily download from online resources based on your level of aptitude.
Speaking is in terms of position in the second out of four skills. In the first stage you have already grasped the information in your faculty that need to be uttered in the manner of speaking. Start speaking whether you make mistake as fluency had better be considered than be accuracy. The introduction of communicative language teaching has brought a new trend that no matter you keep stick to practicing whether you are accurate or inaccurate where most priority is given to developing communicative competence. Researchers have acknowledged the reasons why most of the students are unable to communicate with others in English. Here we see there is a discrepancy between the course curriculum and assessment system that all the tests are done through written exams and apart this, students themselves encounter a number of challenges like insufficient information in native language, inadequate vocabulary, anxiety, hesitation and inattention to listen others, etc. In this regard students should be focused on how to get updated with more information and the topmost priority should be given to listening to others for speaking purpose. As a teacher I suggest you to make a partner to continue speaking practice, of course you can get connected online with your practice partner. You can start group discussing creating accounts on Facebook or WhatsApp or any other online platforms. In addition you can record your conversation practice and also may engage yourself in practicing with music and movies.
You have rooms to do online pair practice in the activities like role playing, asking answering, story –telling, picture describing and self-discussing standing before the mirror with any topic whatever you like. In this case the more you have information the more you are confident enough to speak before the audience. After all, speak, speak and speak can get you as a fluent speaker in English.
Then comes reading skill. Findings of different studies show that reading has positive impact on vocabulary, writing, grammar, spelling, speaking and analytical ability. Increase reading different types of books irrespective of novels, short stories or any kind of books, and journals in which you get pleasure apart from your academic books. Reading plays a very effective role in developing inclusive performance of the second language learners. Once a student of mine was selected as the best speaker in a national English extempore speech competition at university level whom I asked what made her helped over this excellence she retorted, “Sir, since my school days I had developed an inclination to reading different types of books that always help me to speak in an organized way. Besides many studies claim that reading has the super power to make people imaginative and critical that has a close link to be rational in life and the contextual information the readers receive from any readings contributes to broaden their outlooks in performing knowledgeable activities.
This time I suggest you to go through a lot of books, journal and dailies, etc. that you can easily get online and I think besides accumulating knowledge you will have ample scopes to get pleasure. Revive your brain with reading and get rationalized in serving the purpose of language learning.
Writing is the last skill, a person can achieve when he/she has developed all the three phases in a rigorous way. According to language researchers, writing is very tough and crucial for the second language learners and even native speakers sometimes fail to write standard writing. It may be called the master of all the three skills though it comes the last. Actually writing is the only measurement scale for students in our country to be evaluated throughout their all levels of education as exams are written-oriented. Though writing has been emphasized greatly in the country, satisfactory outcomes are yet to be found in students’ writing production, rather they think writing as bored and challenging throughout their education life as they have been habituated to memorizing what they need to write in the examinations. For producing a spontaneous writing one needs to be creative but creativity never comes until one has a flow of information in the mind in the regard. Writing focuses on two aspects – one is meaning and another is structure. Communicative English emphases on meaning rather than structure. But focus should be both on form and meaning to be rich in writing.
For developing writing skill, you should try to write on any topic based on your creativity or imagination and write like it’s your job and practice regularly. Besides you should brush up on the basic principles of writing, grammar and spelling and find a partner and send him/her to read your writing and provide feedback. You can also imitate the writings from journals and newspapers and the same structural patterns you can try to use in your writing keeping your writing meaningful. Above all, there is no substitute to brushing your writing skill through writing on a regular basis.
Considering the present methodological reflection as revealed in the findings of different studies it is high time we needed coping with the strategies of learning English as it is a self-driven method, in this closure of academic activities language learning cravings of students can be accelerated through these tactics.
Writer: Alaul Alam, Lecturer of Prime University
Email: [email protected]
BDST: 1530 HRS, May 11, 2020