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Goals for Teaching English Oktavian Mantiri

Introduction This article will explain the goal for teaching English and the methods and approaches to be applied to make teaching effective. The article will examine how best students can be taught to learn the second language effectively apart from getting a good job and how students can proudly reach a point of being able to communicate competently in the second language. The writer’s interaction with people from different parts of the world compels to say that the world is quickly becoming a global society and that English is fast becoming the international language. And perhaps someday soon every educated person in the world will have a working and communicative knowledge of English. People are traveling everyday and with this intensive travelling whether for conferences or business transactions, English has become the mode of communication everywhere. Evidence is seen in those nations where English had never been their priority, that they are opening doors for the teaching of the second language. Therefore the primary purpose of teaching should be twofold, language learning, where skills are learnt and then communication Teacher Talking In order to achieve the desirable goal of producing good learners and speakers, teachers should not dominate classroom learning. Too much talking by the teacher reduces learners to a mere shadow. Nunan (1989, p.26) claims that research findings have revealed that language teachers talk up to 89% of the available time in the classroom. This clearly shows that teachers tend to talk a lot instead of giving room to learners. Now if language teachers believe that learners


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learn by practicing, they will obviously structure their classroom activities in such a way so that their students have an increased time of talking. The teacher can reduce talking by bringing interaction in class. Actually he is the key person. Brown (2001, p.165) suggested that the best way of bringing interaction is to develop questioning strategies. He underlined teachers’ questions as stepping stones to communication. As indicated above by Brown, the onus to help students is on the teachers by the questions they set. This shows that teacher questions give students an opportunity to produce language comfortably; in particular, questions which are appropriately set may indeed give students the desired opportunity to communicate in the second language. Motivation Another approach has to place emphasis on motivation of the students and then assume that once a strong desire to learn the target language is instilled, the students will naturally succeed. A primary function of teachers, and in this particular case, language teachers, is to motivate learners who are de-motivated and to nurture those who are already well motivated to the task of learning a foreign language. A language teacher can achieve this by adopting a positive attitude towards the learners. For example, a certain language point may take some learners sometime to absorb, a teacher should praise and give encouragement for positive efforts. In that way, the teacher helps to keep learners’ motivation up. Wright (2001, p. 34) hinted that a teacher should give pupils meaningful, relevant and interesting tasks to do in the language classrooms. He also advocates that teachers should maintain discipline to the extent that there is a reasonable learning atmosphere, calm and well organized environment. Motivation may also mean involving the learners more actively in the classroom process, in activities that may demand inter-student communication like debate, conducting an interview. The teacher can again help by introducing learners to the concept of self-appraisal and self-


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evaluation through reports and discussions. In so doing, it builds up their morale in the learning of the language. Giving positive feedback on written assignments should be done by language teachers, so as to give students confidence. McCain (2002, p. 2) says that students who see language as means for obtaining good employment, good grades would strive to do well in order to achieve that goal. However, many times the motivation exists and the teacher has good command of the various techniques, but the students simply do not know how to go about learning the language. This is due to the fact that learning language is often outside their experiences: first, because learning one’s native language was simply a natural part of growing up and second, because normally the study of English takes place only with the goal of passing entrance exams. Therefore English teachers like should first focus on helping the students become better language speakers. Students should be taught the skills necessary for successful language acquisition from the outset and these skills should constantly be cultivated and developed. Practical Use of the Language As a language teacher, one cannot be satisfied that the students have acquired knowledge of the second language until they put it into use. English students who are studying the target language should demonstrate by ways of communicating with others and must understand the fundamental difference between learning about the language and learning to use it for verbal communication. As much as students may wish to demonstrate their skills, their effort can be frustrated with excessive teacher talking. Sometimes, teachers dominate classroom learning with talking, thereby leaving no time for students to talk. Offner (1997, p.1) likened language learners with a driver trainee. He gave a practical example in driving and said the common analogy of learning to drive a car or play a musical instrument is to be in touch with the machine or equipment. One can easily learn all about the parts of a


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car or instrument, how they are made and what their functions are as they relate to the whole, but it does not necessarily follow that with this knowledge one will be able to get behind the steering wheel of a car. The only way to be able to play an instrument well is to practice playing it. Likewise, the only way to become a good English speaker is to practice English quite often. Furthermore, it is important to take note that English is not just a set of rules, an argument supported also by one theorist, Chomsky (as cited by Mitchell and Myles, 2004, p.54) saying that it is not black and white, right or wrong as it is with mathematics with equations that all the time it must calculate the same. Offner (1997, p. 2) remarked that the initial goal when teaching English for communication is not accuracy of use in the early stages, but the main goal is the ability to communicate. The focus and measure should be on the ability to get one’s ideas across, not on how correctly something was said or how many grammatical mistakes were made. As a teacher, it is very imperative to clarify this to the students so that they should not shrink to say something. The difference between the two, accuracy of communication and accuracy of use needs to be stressed and clearly understood by the students for them to get off to a good start. Although accuracy of use will aid ability to communicate, it should not be a prerequisite for communication in the initial stages and certainly should not be allowed to hinder the communication process. Honestly speaking, students are not going to be able to say all that is on their minds or even accurately express themselves from the start. Teachers should expect students to be satisfied first with getting the general idea across and even be prepared to be misunderstood because they will be speaking broken English here and there. McCain (2002, p. 2) observed that students learn the second language much better, when opportunities are being unfolded to them and that they are surrounded by the environment which makes use of the second language frequently. This is to say if the language classroom environment and even the school itself


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have been regulated for the use of the second language, students stand to benefit a lot. Teachers have also to take into consideration students’ personalities. He pointed out that personality can affect second language acquisition. According to his research, it revealed that introversion has the greatest chance of negatively affecting second language acquisition (McCain, 2002). This simply means that students that are afraid to speak publicly to avoid embarrassment in case of a mistake may try other opportunities to aid their learning. Therefore a teacher should avoid embarrassing students when they make a mistake. Being polite in correcting their mistakes will help them to speak. Different theorists are in agreement with this idea that practical use of the language forms part of good learning. Lieven (as cited by Mitchell and Myles, 2004,) said: “The study of child language development across culturally supports the idea that children will only learn to talk in an environment of which they can make some sense and which has a structure of which the child is a part; on the other hand, children can clearly learn to talk in a much wider variety of environments than those studied to date. This is… only partly because of the repertoire of skills that the child brings to the task of learning to talk. It is also because there are systematic ways in which the structure within which the child is growing up gives him or her access to ways of working out the language.” (pp.163-164) In addition, an English teacher needs to impress on his students a need for creativity and stress to them that language learning is imaginative and even artistic. Using the target language which in this context is the second language requires creating something new and unique and is not simply a copy of redundant patterns. The whole idea here is not putting aside the teaching of patterns because these patterns serve as a fundamental starting point from which the students should move on, rather students should be encouraged to play with the fluid language.


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As pointed out above, learning English communication cannot be a passive thing. The teacher cannot teach the language to the students any easier than the teacher can make or force the student to learn the language. However, the teacher can help the students in their learning of the language. Since using the language is most important for communication, this must be actively demonstrated by the learner. As much as they can, students need to be aggressive, putting in as much effort as they expect to get out of it. This means that students need to be active participants in the classroom by asking questions and joining in discussions and other communicative tasks or exercises. Communication is the main purpose of learning a language. This is true whether one is speaking, listening, reading or writing the language. Some forms are more one-way than others, but imparting a thought so that another can understand is the primary objective. In communication, the process is more obviously two ways or multiple ways, requiring the restatement of ideas, responses, requesting clarification and more information. Students need to understand that they must become fully involved in the communication process with other students in English in order to gain competence in it, even if it is foreign and confusing to them. Interaction, and thus communication, in the target language is essential to their progress an assertion shared by Brown (2001) “The benchmark of successful language acquisition is almost always the demonstration of an ability to accomplish pragmatic goals through interactive discourse with other speakers of the language� (p.165). Individual Interests Learning a language means taking that language and internalizing it, making it your own. Rote memorization is often ineffective as students cannot relate to the phrases and dialogs that have been spoon-fed from a textbook. To make it real for themselves, students should work toward


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making a connection with the points to be learned in the text to their own personal experiences, thus making it easier for them to recall. It is the teachers’ task to encourage the students to work at their own level. When doing an exercise that requires much talking and exchanging of ideas, Offner (1997, p.3) said it is most important that the students focus on the doing of the exercise, that is using the language, rather than on the completion of the task which is only a by-product of the effort. They should be assured and encouraged to work at a level they feel comfortable with if they find the task given is too demanding or is difficult for them. They should not be concerned with the completion of the task than what they can do comfortably at their level. In this case, the point which is being emphasized is that it is more important to do a task well than just a mere completion of it. Moreover, students should be cautioned against worrying over every unknown word or phrase, or to get caught up in an overzealous attempt to pin down every expression with a dictionary meaning. Many things are restated when speaking and with a certain amount of guessing, the gist of the conversation can be understood despite the unknown. So one cannot deny the fact that guessing is an important skill that needs to be developed and used often in the second language learning. It is really useful and essential part of comprehending what is being said, particularly in the early stages of communication development. It is better to encourage students to guess with the purpose of moving them away from relying too heavily on their dictionaries and translating every meaning into their native tongue. Many times, translation has the effect of changing the meaning as much as an inaccurate guess. Teachers should endeavor in teaching speaking skills in the language classroom and should go further to bring interaction in class. Lawtie (2004, para. 1) cautioned that, language teachers should know that their success is not measured by the skills they teach in class rather by the ability they hold in carrying out a conversation in the target language with their students.


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Therefore if students do not learn how to speak or are not given an opportunity to speak in the language classroom as earlier on stated, they may get de-motivated and lose interest in learning. The key person to bring and create interaction in a classroom is the teacher. According to Brown (2001, p.167), teachers, should create an environment where interaction and freedom of expression is encouraged. Conclusion In conclusion, language teachers should bear in mind the role they have on learners is to learn and communicate in the foreign language effectively. It is an open secret that learning a language, like the learning of anything else is essentially an individual achievement. This is practically possible in the classroom context and is only achieved if there is interaction between two kinds of participants; the teacher on the one hand and the learners on the other. The classroom interaction serves an enabling function and its only purpose is to provide conditions for learning. Teachers should endeavor reduce excessive talking, motivate the learners and encourage learners to strive communicate in the foreign language by either interaction with the teacher or amongst themselves. As said earlier on, the key person to enhance interaction is the teacher. Learning language rules only is not enough but the ability to convert the learned rules into a communicative use is equally important. Therefore, the writer strongly believes that communicative approach is rich to help learners acquiring the second language. The other approaches of teaching English form an integral part of learning the language, however the communicative approach should be maximized. References Brown, H.D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy.(2nd ed.). White Plains, New York: Prentice Hall.


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Lawtie, F. (2004). Overcoming classroom problems. British Council. Retrieved on 11 February 2006 from British Council Web Site: www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/speak/speak_skills2.shtml. McCain, J. (2002). Language acquisition and affective variables. 2000 Web Report # 3. Retrieved 9 February 2006 from Serendip Web site: http://serendip.brynmawr.edu/biology/b103/f00/web3/mccain3.html. Mitchell, R., & Myles, F. (2004). Second language learning theories. Madison Avenue, New York: Oxford University. Nunan, D. (1989). Understanding language classrooms. UK: Prentice Hall. Offner, M.D. (1997). Teaching English conversation in Japan. The Internet TESL Journal, 3(3). Retrived 04 February 2005 from: http://iteslj.org/ web site: http://iteslj.org/Articles/OffnerHowToLearn.html. Wright, T. (1987). Roles of teachers and learners. Hong Kong: Oxford University Press

Goals For Teaching English  

The writer’s interaction with people from different parts of the world compels to say that the world is quickly becoming a global society an...