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|In Public Schools, Students Struggling to Speak English|
Abdul Rahim Al-Showthabi (YEMEN POST)
Article Date: October 13, 2008
Public school students studying English have unfortunate speaking skills as speaking is the least of students' skills at all levels according to language experts, though it is one of the most important.
Teachers explain more during class time rather than letting students talk. Students continuously complain of not having the adequate opportunity to participate in class and mingle with their classmates in English.
English language experts in Yemen mention that students' lacks the ability to express themselves in English due to the lack of confidence and support they get when studying the language.
However, when comparing private schools to public schools, one would notice that students in private schools have better English speaking skills, as more chances are given to them to participate in open debates during class times." I like it when our teacher talks inside the class in English and gives us a chance to participate in an open debate. It builds our language strength as well as our confidence," said 13 year old Saleh Ali Saleh from Al-Nebras private school.
Students say that a large number of teachers speak too much during English classes, restricting students' from participating in the learning process. In addition, they criticize teachers who reduce the time of language practice by making long introductions to their English lessons, giving them less time to practice.
Advantageously, some private schools are trying to raise language standers by addressing the areas of speaking that enables students to enquire the language by listening and speaking.
“Strengthening students speaking skills encourages them to have the confidence to speak in English not only inside classes but also in other situations too", said 33 year old secondary school teacher Abdul Rahman Al-Jawfee.
Some teachers use poor teaching methods and strategies like those used when teaching their mother tongue language, therefore making students understand less due to the wrong way of teaching.
Many experts believe that language skills are best received when it comes through oral dialogue, giving the student a chance to practice and improve his fluency.
Learners turn to spending extra time with friends using English language as a means to communicate while they are gathered. Consequently, dedicated students practice the language as much as they can, by making their essential focus on communication.
Accordingly, professionals advise language learners not to let grammar rules restrict them from speaking with others, as their aim is to improve one's spoken English. They also encouraged them to spend time listening to the target language by using cassettes, considering it as a way to keep them in touch with the language rather than of storing it in their short-term memories where it will be quickly forgotten.In Yemen, English is taught in both private and public schools as a compulsory subject and as the first foreign course. Students also study English as a college requirement.