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Challenges of teaching English in the 21st century

  • Published at 12:24 pm November 22nd, 2018

A two-day international conference on ‘Rethinking Disciplinary Diversity’ by Brac University, department of English and Humanities

Brac University, department of English and Humanities organized a two-day long international conference on November 15 and 16, 2018. This platform was created for scholars and educators to share their knowledge which can aid to address challenges related to Applied Linguistics and English language teaching. A total of 21 discussion panels were conducted simultaneously. Amongst the 21 sessions, some were; ‘Practicality of Learner Centeredness’, ‘Revolutionanizing Language Learning and Teaching’ and ‘ Culture and Literature in English Teaching’ 


English in rural Bangladesh

Bangladesh observes various English teacher training programs. English in Action (EIA) was the last benefactor program for English teachers. This study went for examining the impact of EIA on secondary school English teachers' classroom rehearses. The study was conducted embracing the phenomenology approach under the qualitative approach.

A structured interview and classroom observation were carried out. Assessment of the current study suggested that secondary-school English teachers learned diverse skills and strategies to incorporate into their classroom practice. Nonetheless, it was seen that educators can't execute these into their classroom practices. Therefore, the current study called for bringing change to the overall assessment system at the secondary level.

Initiating the learning of English language in Rural High Schools in Bangladesh Professor Jasimuz Zaman, Country Director, Volunteers Association for Bangladesh Bangladesh High School Education curriculum places English as a major language in parallel with Bangla. The outcome in the knowledge of English among the graduates of high schools coupled with the weakness in English skills among rural English teachers gives rise to an almost inconsiderable dilemma.

English is a valuable language throughout the globe. As a result, the communicative English language learning is a mandatory part of the learning system of Bangladesh. It is not an exception to the Cox's Bazar city. Although students are taught communicative English language in secondary, higher secondary and tertiary level, some gaps are still noticeable in their output. The present study aims at exploring the problems in the English communicative skills of the students of Cox's Bazar Bangladesh. In doing so it studies the major gaps in the policies and practices that hinder the expected English proficiency of the students.

“Although I live and work across some oceans and continental masses from Bangladesh, I have had the joy of working with a large number of Bangladeshi educational leaders and particularly with a family of Masters and Doctoral students, who have now graduated and are steadfastly and creatively contributing to the future of their country and their people, I am proud of all their work and I relish the opportunity to once more collaborate" said Janinka Greenwood, Professor, College of Education, Health and Human Development, University of Canterbury, New Zealand.

English for Academic Purposes 

The objective of this study is to assess the effectiveness of a 'communicative English' course which is offered in undergraduate levels at public universities in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The study also attempts to find out the strengths and limitations of the course in order to address the future of the students in its syllabus.

Both qualitative and quantitative data were collected from one hundred questionnaire responses from the students who have taken the course in their first semester. The analyzed data reveals that the English language skills of the students have improved a lot after attending the courses.

The students suggested that English is required for their academic and professional life and is useful in securing a job both at home and abroad. The respondents want centralized classes and prefer doing group works and presentations instead of traditional class lectures. They suggested that more classroom materials such as handouts book references, audio recordings etc. should be provided to them.

The participants of the study said that the course utilizes the power of speaking and they want more speaking and listening sessions and texts from English literature included in the classroom activities. This study recommends the syllabus and the contents and materials should be modified from time to time.

“English teaching in Bangladesh has a special place in my heart and in my academic pursuits. I acknowledged that I am one of its beneficiaries. This conference has a special significance for me because it will bring an opportunity to (re)validate my engagement. I am looking forward to being updated on the current research and future agenda that colleagues will present. I am also looking forward to meeting my teacher colleagues and students” said Obaidul Hamid, School of Education, The University of Queensland, Australia.        

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