In the recent decades, English has become an indispensable part of the Yemeni primary and secondary school curriculum. It is not only a matter of being a compulsory subject within the school curriculum but it is also an area of study that many students/ pupils want to develop. Many Yemeni parents have recently recognized the importance of English as a key to science, technology and business in our modern world and want their children to get mastery over English. Unfortunately, though its recognized importance by teachers, schoolmasters, students and parents, the outcomes, especially within the rural Yemeni context, are still low and most students can’t cultivate a good level of English during their pre-tertiary education due to many challenges that obstruct English language teaching in the Yemeni schools.
This study was an attempt to survey challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools from the viewpoints of 20 EFL senior teachers and supervisors for the purpose of identifying such challenges and suggesting some solutions and strategies for better English language teaching. Findings show that large classes, lack of teaching aids, teachers’ low proficiency in English and their limited experience with communicative language teaching are considered as major challenges of English language teaching in the concerned Yemeni primary and secondary schools.
Keywords: English Language Teaching, Challenges, AL-Dhalea, Primary and Secondary Schools
With the rise of English as a global language in the last decades (Crystal, 2003), English language teaching has become one of the most important fields of study for many researchers and scholars. Researchers attempt to practice new teaching techniques and to apply theories of linguistics, psychology and education to English classrooms. There are many theories appeared in the second half of the last century that recommend new functional techniques and approaches in language teaching (Hymes, 1972; Halliday 1973; Canale & Swain, 1980; Littlewood, 1981). The main aim behind these theories is how to prepare the language learners to be competent users of their target language whenever they need to communicate in real life situations.
In the context of Yemen, there are many challenges that EFL primary and secondary teachers still face today in their teaching of English language and that is why students complete their pre-tertiary education with very poor English skills. Such challenges should be investigated as a pre-step for providing solutions and strategies for better English language teaching in the future. Here comes the significance of this simple work in investigating the challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhalea governorate from the viewpoints of a group of senior EFL teachers and supervisors.
Objectives of the study:
This study attempts to achieve the following objectives:
- To survey the major challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhala primary and secondary schools.
- To provide solutions and strategies that may help in overcoming such challenges and establishing a better English language teaching.
Significance of the study:
This study is significant as it deals with the challenges encountering English language teaching in Yemeni schools. Identifying the challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools is a pre-step towards setting remedial action plan that contains some suggestions and strategies for better English language teaching that may help students in achieving the objectives of their language learning in pre-tertiary education. The outcomes of this study will be of a significant value to English language teachers and supervisors in these schools and for the ministry of education as it will provide them with a list of challenges that obstruct English language teaching in this governorate with some remedial plans and strategies for overcoming such challenges.
A brief history of English language teaching in Yemen
Yemen is a country that was created in 1990 by the unification of two independent countries called People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (South Yemen) and Arab Republic of Yemen (North Yemen). As the two countries had undergone completely different political scenarios during the 19th and 20th centuries, the education system and English language teaching had also undergone different scenarios in the two countries. While South Yemen was occupied by the British colonizers during the period 1839 till 1967 who introduced some education and their English to some schools they run in Aden colony, the situation was different in the north where Imam has isolated his people from education and made it limited to his clerks and some prestigious families and records, according to my knowledge, show no presence for English language teaching in North Yemen till the revolution age.
During the 1960s onwards, the education systems in the two countries suffer from some difficulties due to the lack of teachers and schools. Both countries depended on Arab and Indian teachers for teaching English and other subjects in primary and secondary schools. In the 1970s, Aden University in the South and Sana’a University in the North have been established to prepare teachers for Yemeni schools in the various subjects and to provide education to Yemeni nationals in various fields of science and arts.
So far as English language teaching in the 1960s onwards is concerned, English was introduced as a compulsory subject within South Yemen school curriculum starting from the 5th year of the unity stage to be taught for eight years till the final year of the secondary stage while it was introduced as a compulsory subject starting from the 7th year of the primary stage in North Yemen to be taught for six years till the final year of the secondary stage. In the 1990s, with unification event, the education systems of the two countries were unified too and English was introduced as a compulsory subject within the school curriculum starting from the 7th year of the primary stage to be taught for six years up to the third year of the secondary stage. Though the country had undergone a civil war in 1994 due to the failure of the Unification agreement and South Yemen declared its restoration of its independent state, the victorious North Yemen could control the South by its military force and kept the country unified with a unified education system. The Yemeni ministry of education introduced a new series of courses of English in the 1990s called ‘Crescent English course for Yemen’ which are communicative-based courses and give an equal space for language four skills (Ahmed & Pawar, 2018: 302).
EFL teaching in Yemen as the situation in some other Arab countries still face many challenges such as poor teaching and traditional methodologies, large classes, students’ low motivation to learn English and limited teaching materials (Fareh, 2010; Khan, 2012). Such challenges may exist in many contexts where English is taught as a foreign or second language. Goss (1999) and Cheng and Wang (2004) have shown thatJapanese and Chinese EFL learners’ difficulties in attaining high proficiency in English are due to teachers and low-quality teaching, large classes, and inadequate learning facilities such as language labs and unsuitable language materials.
This study is an exploratory descriptive study that aims at surveying the challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools from the viewpoints of EFL senior teachers and supervisors of AL-Dhalea for the purpose of suggesting some remedial action for overcoming ELT challenges and improving teaching. It was carried out in 2018 academic year.
The participants of this study are 20 EFL senior teachers and supervisors of AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools. Though there are many primary and secondary schools in AL-Dhala governorate and in each school there are one or more teachers of English language, the study is approached from the viewpoints of 20 EFL senior teachers and supervisors who have good experience with English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools.
A questionnaire consists of two open questions was asked to 20 senior EFL teachers and supervisors of AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools. The researcher has preferred to use open questions to get comprehensive details about that challenges encountering English language teaching in AL-Dhalea from hypothesizing some challenges in a kind of a close-items questionnaire as such a kind of questionnaire serves more to validate the presence of some specific challenges than to survey all challenges. In addition to these two open questions responded by the sample, the researcher has also carried out what’s up written discussions with five senior teachers and supervisors of the same sample to get more details about the findings.
Discussion of the Findings:
This study is basically an attempt to answer these two questions:
- What are the major challenges of English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools?
- What can be done to overcome such challenges and establish a better English language teaching?
Responses from the senior EFL teachers and supervisors refer to several challenges that obstructing English language teaching in AL-Dhalea primary and secondary schools. Here I will discuss these challenges under major headlines as follows:
- Quote paper
- Sabri Thabit Saleh Ahmed (Author), 2018, Challenges of English Language Teaching in Yemeni Primary and Secondary Schools, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/444271