English Language is the top list used language worldwide. Sudan Vision speaks to an English language expert to highlight
the situation of English language learning in Sudan, the problems facing it, challenges and the expected solutions.
Q: You are welcome to Sudan Vision newspaper, Mohamed Abdul Hameed Shams al Din. Would please tell us a little about you?
A: Thanks a lot Sudan Vision, Mohamed Abdul lHameed Shams al Din. I was born at Alti - Alkamiln locality.inGezira State. English language expert, trainer of trainers (TOT), educational instructor, school headmaster, and deputy head of the English language department at the Minister of Education in Khartoum.
Q: Thanks, we would like to stand on the importance of learning English Language? Why do we learn English language?
A: English language is considered one of the most widely spoken languages all over the world. Although it comes second to mandarin in the total number of speakers, it is widely spread in compared to other languages. English is the official language of 53 countries in the world, more than 750 million people speak it either as a native or second language More than 196 have English as an official language. In addition to that English will give you more opportunities in speaking, communicating effectively whenever or wherever you go abroad, enabling you to have wide opportunities in looking for jobs and business one day. English will make you more desirable to employers. It will also provide wide access to knowledge in all its meanings and shapes.
Q: English language may not be the most spoken language in the world, but it is the official language, your comment?
A: More than 53% of the world Web Sites and Internet, computer use English language, and this absolutely show the importance of it, beside that it is the language of Science, using it in education and scientific research. It is a global language and has wide uses including also the fields of Diplomacy, Tourism and Aviation, many references and textbooks in Universities worldwide are written in English language.
Q: Many countries include English as a second language in school syllabus where children start learning at a young age, how do you see that in the Sudanese syllabus?
A: In this modern globalised society, knowing how to speak another language is a crucial skill to have. The big question is when should we start learning a second language, at which age? In Sudan we have a new syllabus called Sudan Modern Integrated Learning English (Smile) and most educationists and experts agreed to start Smile at age nine at grade 3 at basic schools where kids and young children enjoy learning. So it is a good step towards raising the English language standard from earlier stage, speaking English will open up their mind to new horizons across the globe.
Q: English Language is easier to learn when compared to other languages, would you elaborate on this point?
A: I do not agree with you to some extent for, there are some problems in terms of pronunciation, sounds, grammar, spelling and the silent letters which need great efforts, suitable syllabus and qualified teachers. Kids and young children are naturally language acquires; they are self-motivated to pick up language without conscious learning, unlike adolescents and adults.
Q: The academic organs; schools, institutes, and universities, to what extent did they succeed in realizing the objectives and aims of learning English?
A: Most of these academic organs succeeded in realizing objectives and aims of learning English, but for exams only. A lot of graduates from the above mentioned organs do not write and speak English fluently.
Q: What are the challenges facing learning English?
A: Of course there are many challenges facing the development of learning English including weakness of syllabus, lack of trained teachers, immigration of a lot of qualified teachers class-rooms are so crowded, lack of assisting material to support the learning process, in addition to the school itself does not motivate acquiring the language.
Q: What are the causes of the difficulties in learning English?
A: It is not a secret that learning English language is one of the more challenges to learn. According to the development of learning English language, and curriculum design, English language series became very important issues that affect education globally and in Sudan in particular. These difficulties represent in changing of educational syllabus, Arabicization and the removal of English literature from different periods, which contributed in decline in standards, beside the shortage and lack of qualified trained teachers that is considered major factors in the decline student standards of proficiency. The system of examinations also adopted in general education has important effect on this decline. Finally, the unsuitable environmental factors such as learner’s small age, motivation and attitudes have contributed to the decline.
Q: SPINE as a syllabus of learning English in basic education, how could you evaluate it?
A: It is already known that more than 21 years have passed since the beginning of the current English language curriculum SPINE taught at basic education in Sudan. Lots have changed during that period in terms of methodologies, technology, learning activities and concepts. The British Council have prepared in collaboration with the Ministry of Education a new English language Teaching curriculum for grade 3 up to grade 9 at the basic education that is Sudan Modern Integrated Learning English.
It is needless to say that there sufficient variation of material in the content of SPINE series in basic schools, most of it is not interesting, does not up-to date, and it does not suit with child age. SPINE concentrated only on reading and writing .Listening and speaking at the end list of practicing skills in SPINE. Regard to vocabulary in SPINE is not graded or recycled in subsequent lessons not suitable for students at this level.
Q: Would you please give in brief about what is new with Smile?
A: In Smile each grade will be provided with a pupil book, activity book, audio visuals such as CDs or tapes and flash cards. Pupil will become quite aware of English as an international language, and as a means of communication. Smile is a pupil-centered curriculum, a topic-based syllabus enables pupil in understanding, and using a foreign language through enjoyable and simulating language learning activities. It gives concern to the four skills in a comprehensive way.
Q: SPINE as a syllabus for learning English in basic and secondary Schools, how do evaluate it?
A: To some extent SPINE failed for, it ignored the skill of speaking and listening in the curriculum, so how could the learners communicate effectively out of the classroom? Moreover some English language teachers are not well trained, not specialized or qualified enough in English language. Most of them are not aware with the concept of integrated English as a currcuiculum as mentioned in SPINE. Moreover, they do not attend or observe lessons to train teachers in their schools; in addition to supplementary materials, assistance materials used in teaching.
Q: Who is responsible for the weakness of spoken English language among students and graduates; is it the curriculum, the teacher who convey the message or the student who receive the message?
A: I think it refers to many reasons include some teachers who are not qualified or trained enough in spoken English; also the lack of daily based conversation activities from different aspects of life and real situation. Learners should reinforce listening from different mass media.
Q: How could we improve our spoken language?
A: You can practice speaking without assistance of anybody. Memorize endless lists of vocabularies; all grammar required in any conversation to improve your spoken English, the best thing is to talk with a native speaker. Sometimes we have not this option, so do not worry, first try to think in English, listen intensively to English news, movies and songs, talk to yourself wherever and whenever you go for more self-confidence, talk to your favorite person. Stress on fluency not grammar. Challenge yourself to speak without stopping or stammering and do not be afraid of making mistakes.
Q: To what extent is training important for teachers?
A: As I mentioned before great teachers would help in creating great student.
Q: Who is responsible of the weakness of the spoken English Language among students and graduates, is it the curriculum, the teacher who conveys the message or the student who receives the message?
A: I think it refers to many reasons which include some teachers who are not qualified or trained enough on the spoken English. The lack of daily basic conversations activities from different a aspects of life and real situation. Learners should reinforce listening from different mass media.
Q: How could we improve our spoken language?
A: You can you practice speaking without assistance from anybody; memorize endless lists of vocabularies, all grammar required in any conversation, to improve your spoken English. The best thing is to talk with a native speaker. Sometimes we have do not have this option, so no need to worry. First try to think in English, listen intensively to English news, ,movies and songs , talk to yourself wherever and whenever you go for more self-confidence., talk to your favorite person. Stress on fluency not grammar .Challenge yourself to speak without stopping or stammering do not afraid of making mistakes.
Q: To what extent does training important for teachers?
A: As I mentioned before great teachers would help in creating great student. In fact, research explains that inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement m so it is critical to pay close attention to how we train and support both new and experience educators. Monitoring and coaching from veteran colleges is critical to the successful development of a new teacher. Ongoing professional development is also critical for veteran teachers to have ongoing and regular to learn from one another .It keeps teachers up-to date with on new research on how children learn, emerging technology tools for the classrooms, new curriculum resources. Moreover, effective teacher training is a key to teaching success beside that new teachers have many challenges facing them.
Q: Did the English learning centers participate in improving the spoken English Language of students?
A: English Language as a global Language or say a global phenomenon, as I said before so a lot of training centers are spread to cope with the language, and the great need to it , so training centers are qualified to realize the task and purposes, but the big problem is the environment that learners practice the language. Personally, I hope that mastering the language a personal challenge after taking the basic course.
Q: Do you think that the social media assist in improving English learning?
A: Social media changes the world in unbelievable and understandable ways. It has its impact on language. As someone who writes about social media, I’m quite aware of not know how fast these online platforms change, and how they influence the language. What surrounded to us for sure has its affect on us. Since then much of written language that we see and come across on screens of computers, laptops and smart phones , language now evolves partially through our inter action with technology .Any how I do believe that social media plays vital and great role on development of English.
Q: So what is your vision on training as a means of improving English learning?
A: Our vision is to make ongoing training centers not only in Khartoum State, but also in all parts of the country, to raise quality of teaching among the teachers for providing the best educational process.
Profile: Mohamed Abdul Hameed Shams al Din, Bachelor (Honor) in Education University of Gezira, Master Degree in Education (English Language Teaching ELT) Sudan University for Science and Technology, Trainer of Trainers (TOT) and Teacher trainer at the British Council, International Quality and Business
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