A particular problem seems to persist among students in this country. A while back, Yattiyr Scholarship Initiative organized outreaches for secondary schools with the goal of enhancing critical thinking and problem solving skills. During the exercise, the students were to present problems and solutions that exist in their respective schools. Even though the students were eager to present their findings, their inability to successfully communicate in English Language didn’t go unnoticed. This is a very common problem among students, especially in public secondary schools. If these students in their learning age cannot express themselves in simple sentences without blunders, then what is the purpose of education?
Even though Nigeria is a multilingual country and not all children are brought up by English-speaking parents, English Language is the world’s lingua franca and it is the major means of communication across all fields such as medicine, law and so on; and other areas of life. With the pace at which the world is moving in terms of civilization, no one should be found wanting in this aspect.
It is therefore of utmost importance that students develop their English proficiency as it will be of great importance to them and the society at large. Good command of English enhances communication with people from different cultural backgrounds and it also builds confidence. Good English proficiency enhances academic performance, social effectiveness and professional development.
To tackle this problem, it is important to identify the causative factors;
- Teaching errors: in schools today, it has been discovered that teachers are mostly focused on teaching grammatical elements and do not motivate their students to practice what they are taught in and out of classes.
- Curriculum errors: the English language curriculum used in most schools are outdated and not designed to help improve students’ English command as it is limited to lessons that do not allow students to practice English orally. Furthermore, most schools, especially public no longer have debate clubs and other public speaking teams which would help students improve their English speaking prowess.
- Student errors: the students’ nonchalant attitude towards English language learning and speaking is also another factor.
How do we train our students to be effective communicators?
- Teachers should limit the Teacher Talking Time (TTT). Teachers can give instructions and allow the students express what they understand through English speaking.
- Teachers should also increase Student Talking Time (STT) by making students answer questions asked by other students. Furthermore, the learning environment must be comfortable such that the students are free to express themselves and allowed to make mistakes.
- The English Language curriculum should give room to lessons that would help students practice English speaking. Students should also be allowed to debate current and controversial issues in order to improve their communication skills.
- Students can also develop their English speaking skills by:
- Learning new words daily in order to expand their vocabulary
- Read more books
- Take part in public speaking events