This post was first published on Express Bloggers.

Yesterday my English 1st paper exam was held. There was a question titled “Write a letter to your friend telling him/her what you intend to do after your SSC examination.” I wrote that I intend to go to my village and spend time educating the illiterate. Well, the truth is, I’m going to learn PHP, Javascript, CSS, jQuery and WordPress theme development. πŸ˜€ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜†

Well, it sounds funny when you hear it. But you may wonder why I didn’t write the truth. Well, the fact is, if I wrote that, teacher would go mad and give me less marks. Why? Since he won’t understand much of it, he is not supposed to give me good marks. On the other hand, when he would that I followed the book, and there were no grammatical or spelling errors, I would get a good mark. So, why take risk?

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a girls hand

The fact is, most students in Bangladesh who are studying in Bangla medium are very weak in English because they are not educated in proper way. I have seen many students who write paragraphs, essays, letters, applications etc just as they read in the books. You can say their exam scripts are a carbon-copy of the book. While some other students just can’t memorize English, they make a lot of silly mistakes in their English grammar and spelling. At the end, most of them have no idea what they have written.

To show an example, I’d tell you one thing. For many days I’ve tried to find out what other students write on the essay “Your Aim in Life”. And I found 100% of the students — those whom I have come across — don’t write their actual aim in life. Instead, they write what they have read in books. This simply means, most students are memorizing English paragraphs and the likes and writing them in exam scripts from their minds. The question is, what are they actually learning from this?

English is a compulsory subject in primary, secondary and higher education in Bangladesh. I don’t know what happens in higher education, but in secondary, I believe that the majority of students use their memory to pass English exams.

What those paragraphs are for?

You need to learn how to write an application or a letter to a friend in English so that you can do so in the long run whenever needed. But why do we learn paragraphs and essays in schools? I don’t know the exact answer, but I do believe that the reason for teaching paragraph-writing is making a student capable of writing anything in English, from personal experience to literature or story writing. Yes, today we have a new addition to our English second paper, which is “Completing Story”. An incomplete story will be given in the question paper, and you have to give it a title and write the rest of the story. The idea was [probably] to use student’s imagination to come up with a story. But I haven’t seen anyone yet who writes story all by himself. Most students memorize it, and then write it up in the exam scripts.

This has two bad affect. One, they make lots of mistakes in either grammar or spelling — or in both. Two, they are actually learning nothing in English. And the worst of all is if the question is uncommon, they have no way but skip it.

I think teachers have to do something to end up the idea of memorizing English stuffs and make students capable of writing the contents of paragraphs, essays, stories, letters, etc all by themselves, just like they do when writing an essay or a letter in Bangla. If that can be done, I believe, no more students in Bangla medium will remain blind — or terribly weak — in English.

I’m not an important or highly educated personality to talk these stuffs about schools and the education system. But these things popped up on my mind when last night I was talking to someone about why I didn’t write what I really intend to do after my SSC in my exam scripts. So, I just thought I’d write a post on this matter. Apologies for anything overdone. πŸ™‚

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12 thoughts

  1. Its not just the English, but, imao, the whole education system must change in a way that encourages students to follow their heart and is good enough to identify their talents. You are right about students blindly memorizing stuff, instead of actually learning it. I see a lot of that happening here in India, and no doubt, it happens everywhere else too.
    PS- you don’t have to be a scholar to point out this fatal error in our education system.. its, in fact, your right..!! πŸ™‚

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    1. Thanks for your comment. The fact is, some people over here, including some of my acquaintance, do not take these writings/speakings easy. They’d just say “who the hell are you to say what is good and what is bad!” That’s why I apologized in advance. πŸ™‚

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  2. Well composed πŸ™‚ As a teacher I believe you are only successful when u can transfer ur knowledge and skill to your students. Here in Pakistan children use to do the same πŸ™‚
    Every application & letter starts and end on the same note .No creativity at all…………

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    1. Thanks to Global Voices Online, otherwise I would not have you on my blog. πŸ™‚

      I didn’t think that some teacher will read my post (I dare not show this post to my school teachers πŸ˜€ ). Anyway, I believe to let students use their creativity, teachers have to approach to them differently. I know it is quite hard as English is not the student’s native language, still this is what they (the teachers) have to do.

      Thanks for your comment. πŸ™‚

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  3. I find this topic extremely interesting, but I’m going to write a quite brief comment because it’s already 4 am and I should be sleeping by now :/ A time ago I watched the movie 3 idiots (a Bollywood film, have you seen it?) and I wrote a review about it: http://fictionworms.wordpress.com/movies/f-g-h-i-j/i/3-idiots/
    In it, I talked about memorising stuff instead of actually learning, and how bad that is. That happens a lot at my school…
    XOXO! Guadi.

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    1. Yes I watched 3 Idiots and loved it because it perfectly portraits how the education really works in even the most renowned educational institutes. Thanks for all the comments today. Now go have a sleep and come back tomorrow to read my replies. πŸ˜€

      Good night!

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