Experts debate teaching English as 2nd language

BANGALORE: “Teach comprehension. Don’t teach production. The worst teaching is routinization,” was renowned teacher trainer Dr N S Prabhu’s advise to English teachers on the second day of the

Published: 16th February 2012 03:27 AM  |   Last Updated: 16th May 2012 05:57 PM   |  A+A-

BANGALORE: “Teach comprehension. Don’t teach production. The worst teaching is routinization,” was renowned teacher trainer Dr N S Prabhu’s advise to English teachers on the second day of the All India Seminar on ‘Second Language Teacher Education -Issues and Challenges’ on Wednesday at the Regional Institute of English, South India.

Underlining the relationship between comprehension and production, the former senior fellow of the English and Literature Department at National University of Singapore observed that there would be no production without comprehension. “The notion that learning becomes easier with comprehensible input that is easy is not true. For instance, if you make food easily digestible, then the digestive system will have no work,” said Dr Prabhu.

Taking a critical look at the present pedagogical approach to teaching English as a second language, he said there is no ‘ideal’ method for a classroom situation. “One of our problems in this profession is that we are looking for methods that work everywhere. Don’t routinize teaching. It is not ideal for every teacher to follow the same method. Only when everyone is groping to see what works, that is more valuable,” said Dr Prabhu.

Dr Prabhu urged the teachers of English to put children in a situation where they are likely to make an effort to learn. However, he added, “The idea that learning happens only with learners’ effort is false. Teachers have to be effective in their teaching. While no two children can learn at the same pace, teachers could use the rule of thumb. If half the class gets half the answer right, then effort is in the right level. If all got the answer right, it means something is wrong.”

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