Why are non-native students weak in the English language?

In her second article for the Brida Journal, Niki from Baku in Azerbaijan, ponders over English lessons in schools. Niki is a member of the Global English Classroom.

Why are non-native students weak in the English language? I have taught English as a second language for over 12 years. In this article, I would like to share my experiences about the poor performance of English learners at schools (in Azerbaijan or elsewhere?)

In my opinion, there are three underlying factors which determine our situation.

The first is a weak curriculum design. Perhaps educational specialists in developing countries do not pay attention to practical programs to develop the speaking ability of students. For example, I have very many students in my class and there is too much noise to learn and practice.

The second factor is the lack of experienced and well-trained teachers at school. They cannot teach well to capture the student’s interest. This is compounded by out of date schoolbooks, outdated teaching methods which lead to dull lessons and bored students.

This leads to the third factor which is the lack of learning motivation. Sometimes, students lack the basics. This reduces their confidence. They are shy and are afraid of making mistakes. When they do not have the chance to speak with native speakers, they do not learn the correct expressions.

Looking at it from a student’s perspective is also worthwhile. Many think English is only a school subject. They fail to its significance for their prospective employment in multinational companies in an increasingly globalized world.

Laziness, a lack of efficiency by the school and insufficient support from parents do not help.

In my opinion, only creative teachers can change this atmosphere and motivate our students to progress.

What needs to be done?

The education system should appreciate the learning process in an organised way in order to reach goals. This can be done by increasing the number of English lessons, updating textbooks and employing experienced teachers and opening new opportunities for students.

By showing students a closer relationship between what they learn, real life and career opportunities, we can help them become more active and motivated.

If we want to change the conditions for our students, we should teach them to live with English.

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