Necessary Skills for a Secondary School English Teacher

Language experts say an English teacher must have the ability and quality to speak English. Photo source: SEE TEFL
Language experts say an English teacher must have the ability and quality to speak English. Photo source: SEE TEFL
Masum Billah
Written by Masum Billah

The secondary level poses to be the most important tier of the education sector as it builds the foundation of other tiers. English stands as the most important subject at this level, which remains actually untreated in Bangladesh. Recently it has started receiving attention from the relevant corners in different forms. Language experts say an English teacher must have the ability and quality to speak English well to conduct an English class effectively and communicatively. Negligence of teaching in the secondary level, the poor salary of the teachers, social attitude towards teachers, repugnance to going to rural areas by better candidates, producing graduates without giving them the necessary knowledge of English can be attributed to poor quality English teaching in the secondary level.

The concept of English teaching has changed quite a lot. In earlier times a silent class fully controlled by the teacher concerned appeared to be the most successful and effective class.  But the research unveils the fact that students remaining passive in the class obtain only ten- per cent benefit from the class. Whereas, students using their arms, tongue, brain, mind and intelligence obtain ninety per cent benefit from the class. Necessarily this sort of classes seems to be noisier than the earlier ones I mean the passive classes. The more students will be involved in the activities, the more they will be benefited. An English teacher must be well acquainted with this sort of class and classroom management. He/she must have the knowledge and idea to put the students in the groups and pairs and practice chain drill to involve all the students in different activities.

Post Primary Basic And Continuing Education Programme of BRAC (a non-government development organization of Bangladesh) conduct a training programme for the capacity building of secondary school teachers. Before it invites the teachers to receive training, it arranges a special training/orientation for the headmasters, assistant headmasters and School Management Committee members to give them the message of the necessity of training of English teacher.

It is not necessary to learn the mother tongue in educational institutions for communicating our ideas to others. Rather it is learnt from the situation and environment. It is mainly for communication. Accuracy is ignored here while learning in order to encourage the spontaneity of the learners. Teachers must be familiar with this idea. He/she should know how to create an artificial English environment in the classroom for the students to pick up and practice the language from that situation. From guided to semi-guided and then free practice need to be pursued in teaching communicative English. A teacher must be well acquainted with the fact.

English teacher must be friendly with the learners otherwise teaching and learning process can never be effective. Many teachers don’t know this theory. They think the more the students will be afraid of them, the more successful teaching it is. It is a mistaken belief. I think it’s a necessary skill for a secondary school English teacher to know how to create a student-friendly environment in the class.

Again, a teacher must be acquainted with the socio-cultural situation of the students. Again he/she must keep in mind that when he teaches the students of secondary level, he/she must lower himself/herself down on that level. A common characteristic goes with many teachers to give all the things they learn and know at a time to the students to prove their pedantry. They hardly consider the merit, digestive power and receptive power of the students.

Teachers must develop the ability to teach using the regalia, common and easy available teaching aids. The teaching aids available around him/ her should be used. It will be more understandable and comprehensible to the students. Suppose, a pen can be used as a plane or as a stick, etc.

Above all training is a must for an English teacher. Many old and experienced teachers think that training is not so essential for them. They know a lot and their method is the best one. This misconception leads our students to a harmful situation. In Bangladesh, we experienced this situation after the introduction of communicative English. Now we are on the way to overcome this situation. Hundreds and thousands of rural teachers have started coming to training centres willingly and many of them feel constrained to receive training for the sake of their professional development, which we consider as a positive sign.

As professional development is a continuous process teachers can develop themselves locally by establishing Teachers’ Development Forum. In this forum, the teachers of a particular area/region will have a regular meeting every week or every fifteen days or even once a month in their familiar situations i.e. in schools and discuss all the issues related to teaching. Thus through this experience sharing meeting, they will come to know a lot of things about developed English teaching from one another.

Unconsciously they will develop their speaking skill as well. Under the banner of the forum, teachers can publish bi-monthly, quarterly or yearly magazine to be contributed by them to develop their writing skill. Through the activities of the forum, teachers can be encouraged to listen to BBC and CNN regularly, which will develop their listening skill. They must develop the habit of reading English daily and weeklies to further develop their reading skill. This practice will increase their hunger for reading and learning more and more and finally, they can be led to the way of their professional development.

About the author

Masum Billah

Masum Billah

Masum Billah works as an Education Expert in the BRAC Education Program, BRAC, and President of the English Teachers' Association of Bangladesh (ETAB), Dhaka, Bangladesh.

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