Importance of English Language in Pakistan:
If a story is not about hearer, he will not listen… and here I make a rule…. A great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last
This quote is taken from john Steinbeck’s book, east of Eden. I particularly like it because for me it is about the importance of meaningful stories and how these stories connect us to the others. Story telling is not an old tradition that is found in all cultures and countries. When choosing effective teaching strategies, it is worthwhile to consider universals that cross cultural lines. Folk tales exists in every culture and there are four basics kinds. They are myths legends, fables and fairy tales (Myrick,2012).
Language is the proper and systematic way of communication between individuals. It is the tool, with which he conducts his business in the society, a vehicle by which we ca transmitt different subject matters. A language is important because the people who speak it are important — politically, socially, commercially, economically and culturally. Importance of English language is doubtlessly great. It is spoken by more than Three-hundred-forty (340) million people as a first language in United Kingdom and the United States. The better the focus on language the more civilized people become. Every language represents a complete different background of people, culture, ethnicity or region. Similarly English language has progressed to such an extent that it is the most widely understood language in the world. English is widely used as an international language throughout the world. It is one of the official languages, even in most of the countries of the third world. It is also used for international communication. English is the highly developed language which has the ability to express ideas and it is the means of revelation of modern civilization.
On the other hand, English has been the part of our nation’s history from the beginning .Clearly we cannot deny its importance in our life. Over the years, English language has become one of our principal assets in getting a global leadership. English language is one tool to establish our viewpoint. We can learn from others experience. We can check the theories of foreigners against our experience. We can reject the untenable and accept the tenable. We can also propagate our theories among the international audience and readers. We can make use of English to promote our worldview and spiritual heritage throughout the globe. Yes, other languages are important too, but not for the same reasons as English are important. English is important because it is, maybe, the only language that truly links the whole world together. If not for English, the whole world may not be as united as it is today. The other languages may be important for their local values and culture.
English is the most widespread language in the world. The importance of English language is not just how many people speak it but what it is used for. It is used for news and communication, entertainment, business and diplomacy. In Pakistan learning of English language has obtained importance because it is a need of the day as well as symbol of high status (Maqbool, 2004).
No one can deny the importance of English in modern world. Its importance is not confined to professionals and students solely but it is also very important for common people even house wives. It is due to the great importance of this international language that our government make it compulsory subject in the course of students. Besides its academic importance a person is characterized as illiterate who can’t speak English well. English is the international language as one can find people who understand that language in all parts of the world. It is also the language of internet and international media. Although Urdu is the official language of Pakistan but English is the language which is formally used in all private and government officials.
Essential components of English language:
Reading and writing are considered to be essential components of the English language arts. Their developments are characterized gradually by more sophisticated rule governed representations. The learner is an active problem solver which is influenced by background knowledge, text and context (Flihan, langer,2000).
Process of reading:
Reading is process involving two parts, the encoder (writer) and the decoder (reader). It enables to extract information from written materials. Through reading reader obtain information that helps them to communicate effectively. However it is sometimes difficult to examine reader’s comprehension of a text, so teachers evaluate learners reading skills by giving learners exercise on comprehension which focus on specific information. When learners are given adequate opportunity to reflect on a text, they show high proficiency in participating and producing language (Glenn, 2007).
English language teaching in Pakistan
Statement of the Problem :
The syllabus of English language at primary school level does not help the teachers to develop comprehension skills of the learner. Learner’s comprehension level is low and they can’t interpret the written material accurately. They read the text loud and pay no attention to comprehension which requires knowing the answers of the entire unanswered question because they get notes. Reading has no place in their studies students are unable to write the text after reading material. Although it is an important skill in English language teaching, writing seems to be ignored inside the classrooms. The ignorance of this skill causes the students of primary level to be week and poor writers. Their ability to write one complete and well-structured sentence in English language is simply low. It is noticed that teachers ask the students to write about specific thing on exams without teaching them how to write in classes. Therefore 5 graders cannot write well in English, so this paper tries to find out solution for their weakness by integrating two language skills reading and writing.
Source of English language teaching:
The major source of learning English in Pakistan is our school classrooms where, ironically, teaching amounts to nothing more than boring English spelling drills, some formal grammatical constructions, and precise definitions for an endless array of words which make the subject appear desolate.
Injustice to teaching methodology:
Injustice done to teaching of English language in Pakistani classrooms on account of the archaic methods adopted to teach it appeals for a thorough overhaul and a dire need to introduce the concept of ‘Applied English’ which stands for teaching of English with examples from real life.
Students tend to develop anxiety which results in developing a sense of resentment towards the subject. There is a lot more to English language teaching than merely slogging at grammar or cramming vocabulary for the sake of learning it. It is taught either as an abstract system (grammar) dealing with de-contextualised meaning or as communication dealing with contextualised meaning.
Basic conceptual aspects of ELT:
Even in its abstract form it is dealt with the basic aspects of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. Only when these five aspects are meaningfully measured, can the teaching of grammar of a language be justified. Unfortunately, far too many teachers who are teaching English are truly ignorant of this broader conception of English language teaching. They are teaching only ‘syntax’ in the name of grammar.
In this context, a simple but effective measure that could be taken is to provide English language teachers stronger incentives and encouragement by holding teachers’ training workshops.
Education System Situation in Pakistan:
If we consider ELT situation in Pakistan then its important dimension is inequality. Family income is the major factor that determines whether a child will go to an English, Urdu medium school or to Madrassah. Pakistan is the country where education is being imparted through three different mediums of instructions e.g English, Urdu and regional each contrary to other as regard of ethos and culture of society.
Faculty system of examination:
Teachers usually discourage them for trying anything creative or original like putting down one’s own analysis or ideas on papers. Students are advised to use difficult words, not found in the books that examiner might find them too difficult to grasp. So students resort memorizing a lot of pages for each question from different guide guidebooks and then reproduce them word by word in exams.
The teachers in government and private institutes are untrained and those who are trained, their knowledge are usually outdated and they do not have effective teaching skills. Mostly English teachers are not competent to do justice their subject teaching. Usually teacher centred approach is used in the class for teaching so students find very less time to participate in teaching learning process. They are mere passive learners as they are continuously involved in listening. In this way the process of language learning become dull and boring.
Usually the classes are overcrowded which is one of the great obstacles and constraint in developing students’ language skills mainly writing and speaking. Students do not get any opportunity to speak and even if they got an opportunity in the class, it’s not compulsory for them to use English language even in English class. And as far as writing is concerned, so the fact is that if students are coming with their original writings in the class then its means that teacher time is needed for reading, correction and at times rewriting of students writings. But with such a large class a teacher does not have enough time to read students work or he/she prefers to give notes or to motivate students to follow some guidebooks.
Faculty teaching material& lengthy syllabi:
There are certain faults in teaching materials. Books are not written systematically and usually no attention is paid to the selection and gradation of language items present in them. Another problem is that teacher handbooks are not provided for teachers’ guidance to handle the teaching material in meaning full ways. The lengthy syllabi are great hurdle in developing students’ language skills. A teacher is always under time pressure so he/she just remains busy to complete the syllabus in the class instead of motivating his/her students to learn language. Students themselves prepare few topics or questions to pass examination.
Significance of the study
This study aims to improve English language situations in Pak Turk International School. It will help English teachers how to exploit folk tales successfully to make students capable to write themselves. It will include different writing activities based on reading stories, it will highlight different way of using folk tales for developing critical reading skills through interesting activities.
Objective of the study
To analyse the cause of poor reading and writing skills among the students of primary level
To create a set of study materials that would develop pupils reading skills, speaking skills, would teach values and enrich their vocabulary through folk tales.
What is the purpose of developing writing skills through reading folk tales?
Review of Literature:
Learning to read and write is a basic skill that unfortunately not everybody acquires sufficiently.
Teaching of English as a foreign language:
The teaching of English as a foreign language in primary schools is gaining popularity throughout the world. If we talk about skills then important role reading in writing skills cannot be denied. The teacher can introduce new word from the lesson but it is on student to gain control on the adequate vocabulary and t will be through reading (Tricia, 1985).
Activity from Childhood To teenager:
During childhood our parents used tell us or read us stories folk tales and fairy tales. As with the increasing age reading stories, novels add a lot to our vocabulary, stories guide us through our whole life from the moment we were born and it does not change till we become teenagers’ o adults. When we hear or read stories we ourselves get curious what happens next, this can be put as a topic of interest in the classroom (Ann, 1983).
Importance of meaningful stories:
“If a story is not about hearer, he will not listen.. And here I make a rule a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.
This quote is taken from john John Steinbeck book, East of Eden. I particularly like it because for me it speaks to the importance of meaningful stories and how these stories connect us to the others. Story telling is an old tradition that is found in all cultures and countries. When choosing effective teaching strategies, it is worthwhile to consider universals that cross cultural lines. Folk tales exists in every culture, and there are four basic kinds they are Myths, Legends, Fables and Fairytale (Myrick, 2012).
Reason for low literacy rate in Pakistan:
Pakistan is a developing country with low literacy rate. The main cause of low literacy rate is poverty and ignorance. As compared to other countries the reading capability of the students of Pakistan is quite low. According to the government education plan (2010-2012) the primary objective is to improve the education status.
According to the economic review of Pakistan it is estimated that the country is far behind the world in reading skills. The ability of children in reading and comprehension level is below their grade level. It is consider a barrier to the academic growth of future generation. I is a serious problem which need to be addressed at all level (Awais,2013).
Children need to be raised properly for a better future. The role of reading habit in one’s personality growth is well established and needs no debate. Lust for reading is regarded as a psychological attribute of one’s personality (Sharma & Singh, 2005).
Way to develop comprehension and communication skills:
A good comprehension and communication skills are developed through reading habit. The development of reading habit among children are connected with two parameters the reading material itself and people dealing with children i.e. parents, teachers etc. children must spend some of their leisure time by reading some interesting material. To develop a reading habit it is necessary to consider their topic of interest which can motivate them to start reading. A child is mostly attached with parents, Starke (1931) stated “parents should be made aware that theirs is the chief responsibility for stimulating an interest in good reading and for making books available in the home” (starke, 1931).
According to Sanacore (1992) Independent reading, which is one way of supporting lifetime literacy, is not a frill. It can help students to refine skills and strategies by applying them to meaningful text. It also can improve their reading achievement through the natural process of reading. As important, independent reading motivates a love of reading as it supports the habit of reading.
Vinay (2009) reported “Reading habit, like other habits, has a direct link with the kind of exposure and experience the children get in the early years. If a child is brought up in an environment of books, it is likely to develop love for reading books.
Basis of Imagination:
By listening to stories children create images of the character and places. This process of developing internal images and meaning in response to words is the basis of imagination. Children are exposed to new words by listening to stories. They are not familiar with the meaning of all words, but reading or hearing a story help them to understand the meaning of the words. By taking advantage of natural curiosity of children the teacher creates vocabulary list based upon stories so that children can understand a story in better way and the can use the new words by consulting a dictionary (Fredericks, 1997).
Storytelling can promote writing skills by encouraging young people to write their own stories, impressions of stories that they have heard or even a play based upon a familiar tale. Children who hear stories often improve their reading skills because they are interested in reading other related stories and information.
Oral communication skills:
Reading can be used in various ways to improve students’ oral communication skills. Once they have heard a story, children are usually anxious to discuss their understanding of the story and relate it their own experiences. Children can also interview members of their family or community to learn more about others’ stories, and hearing these stories can stimulate the creation of their own (Fredericks, 1997).
Norvell (1946) stated that solution of this problem is to make the reading more attractive. It is necessary to choose only those selections which are commonly liked by the students and teachers.
Folktales in general:
Folktales in general are part of folk literature, which is more widely referred to as folklore. Simply put, a folktale is a traditional story that has been passed on by words of mouth before writing systems were developed. They include fables (i.e. tales with animals as the main characters and an explicit moral lesson), fairy tales (i.e. tales with some magical elements), myths (i.e. tales which are considered sacred), among many other sub-types (Taylor, 2000).
Simple grammar in folktales:
Simple grammar in folktales makes them useful for the beginners as they will find these texts easier to process. Familiar themes of honesty, kindness, jealousy, greed or other moral issues and familiar narrative structures (such as the reward/punishment storyline) in these tales can also motivate them to listen or read with confidence (Taylor, 2000).
Writing as challenging skill:
Writing has always been a challenging skill for both learners and teachers. By its cognitive, creative and practical nature, it varies from other skills at the same time having a connection with them. It requires a considerable preparation process for both teachers and learners. It could be claimed that, among other skills, teachers make great effort in writing classes both in presentation and evaluation parts. Writing skills have a multi-dimensional nature in that a clear and correct writing needs using correct grammar, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and also the organization of the writing task to convey ideas clearly and adequately. There are several components of a writing contributing the coherence of it. If all these components cannot be presented in a harmony in a writing task, the message cannot be conveyed thoroughly and a good flow cannot be achieved.
Folk tales have been used for long as a productive resource in language teaching. Their lively and familiar nature charms both teachers and learners.
Usefulness of various forms of folk literature:
The usefulness of various forms of folk literature as grammatically, literary, historical and cultural sources in foreign language learning is discussed by Bagg (1991) in her study. The reasons of using folk tales as a tool to teach a foreign language, grammar structures and the ways of developing writing and oral skills via folk tales are explained. The ways of engaging students to the process of storytelling with the help of specific folk tale. As a result, an unfinished folk tale is given to make the reader realize the process and the results of folk tale usage and the world folk tales means to the students.
Writing is a process:
Flower and Hayes (1988) states that Writing is a process, not a product which has been far being new. Also, writing is a complex process of exploring one’s thought, discovering ideas and generating meaning. In this way, the writing process is a sharp tool to discover meaning, to perfect a piece of writing both in thoughts and in grammatical accuracy and to bring intelligence to the writing. Therefore, Byrne (1988) declares writing is a process of encoding (putting your message into words) carried out with the reader’s expectations or as confirmed by Nunan (1999) a complex, cognitive process that required sustained intellectual effort over a considerable period of time.
Influence of reading on writing:
Peha (2003) says that the influence of reading on writing has been expressed through the concept in which reading is trying to discover what a piece of written text means by understanding the words a writer is using. When reading, ?we don’t just wait for the meaning to come to us, we go for it-aggressively. We look deeply into the text hunting in certain specific ways searching for clues.
Effects of reading on writing:
Taking into consideration the effects of reading on writing, there are a number of studies that fail to show an apparent correlation between reading and writing ability with the intention of proving that writers must also be readers. For instance, Battle (1986) concluded that freshmen did not appear to absorb reading skills as a function of learning to write. Or, several compositions themselves have not been without ambivalence toward the importance of reading in improving student writing (Morrow, 1997).
Nonetheless, reading can advance learners’ ability to write since reading can aid the learners’ process of writing as affirmed by Brown (1987, p. 331), ?by reading and studying a variety of relevant types of text, students can gain important insights both about how they should write and about subject matter that may become the topic of their writing. In other words, reading can provide models for writing.
Correlation between reading and writing:
Although the correlation between reading and writing has been adopted by most researchers, it is infrequent to make out this association practiced in second language writing classrooms. It can be probably explained that research has not provided a straightforward performance of this relationship. The researcher, after studying the researches related to reading-writing connection, found that in order to exploit reading in writing classes, teachers have to (1) let students know how their writing pieces are evaluated and (2) guide them to read like writer to acquire writers’ ideas and crafts so that they can improve their writing proficiency and get higher writing scores. Based on this standpoint, some scholars claim the writer as a reader and the reader as a writer (Smith, 1983).
Spandel (1996) shares that if the teacher truly wants their students to read in order to write, they must make certain that our reading instruction promotes them to focus on those fundamentals of a written piece that make writing valuable. Reading trait-based writing, a confirmed method for helping students grow to be stronger writers, is relied heavily upon this thought: identifying the qualities that skilled, experienced readers believe make writing successful.
Smith (1983) points out to read like a writer we engage with the author in what the author is writing. We anticipate what the writer will say, so that the author is in effect writing on our behalf, not showing how something is done but doing it with us. This is identical spoken language situation where adults help children say what they want to say or would like and expect to be able to say. Everything the learner would want to spell the author spells. Everything the learner would want to punctuate the authors punctuates. Every nuance of expression, every relevant syntactic device, and every turn of phrase, the author and learner write together. Bit by bit, one thing at a time, but enormous number of things over the passage of time, the learner learns through reading like a writer to write like a writer..
Importance of reading:
According to Holmstron and Glengeninig (2004) the importance of reading are: Reading develops students writing by making them better writers; since they may face different rules of grammar which will help them later in developing a sense for structures of the language, grammar, and increase their vocabulary. Reading enables students to have a kind of interaction and form their own thoughts. Thus when we read we need to be able to. Recognize different formats such as headlines or faxes and different styles and genre. Know letters, words, and phrases. Understand implication and style. skim, scan, predict, guess, and remember. Match what we read to our own experience.? be able mentally to agree or disagree, to criticize or to commend be able to survey books.
Process of reading:
Alderson (2000) claims that the process of reading, means the cognitive activity operating in real time. It is the interaction between a reader and given text. Here, the readers are supposed to be under different actions which are: reading the print, try to relate the information with each other, and think about what they are reading, find out how useful the text is, and infer the difficulties they may face when reading, and search for ways to overcome them.
Connection between reading and writing:
The proof that there is a connection between reading and writing is the result of associational study, which is made by Stotskey (1983) that comes out with the following ideas: There are correlations between reading achievement and writing ability. Better writers tend to be better readers. There are correlations between writing quality and reading experience. Better writers read more than poorer writers.They have seen to be correlation between reading ability and measure of syntactic complexity in writing. Better readers tend to produce more syntactically nature writing than poorer readers.
Writing is a skill:
Oshima ; Hogue (2007) state that writing is a skill, not a natural gift. It means that writing is not a natural talent possessed by everyone thus it needs some hard work and continuous practice to learn this skill.
Everyone experiences different difficulties when they begin to write something, since in a good writing the students have to know the construction of sentence. In addition, the writers must think carefully before writing something to make sure that the readers can understand the content of the text (Sawaki, Quinlan ; Lee, 2013).
Using folktales in the EFL:
Using folktales in the EFL classroom exposes learners to distinctive opportunities for educational, intellectual, cultural and linguistic development (Khatib ; Rahimi, 2012; Pardede, 2011)).
Folktales are considered as one of the literary genres that can be used in the EFL classroom to enhance language skill, motivate students, and increase their cultural awareness and tolerance. Folktales can be utilized as engines, and a powerful and motivating source for teaching learners how to consolidate and practice language (Yeasmin, Azad ; Ferdoush, 2011).
Folktales are encouraging and fun, they can help students develop positive attitudes towards the foreign language and enrich their learning experiences (Abu Zahra ; Farrah, 2016).
Four main reasons to use literature in the classroom:
According to Collie and Slater in Hismanoglu (2005), there are four main reasons which lead a language teacher to use literature in the classroom. These are valuable authentic material, cultural enrichment, language enrichment and personal involvement. In addition to these four main reasons, universality, non-triviality, personal relevance, variety, interest, economy and suggestive power and ambiguity are some other factors requiring the use of literature as a powerful resource in the classroom context (Sapkota, 2012).
Success of folktales:
The success of folktales as learning media can be found in the study conducted by Muslim, Nafisah and Damayanti (2009), folktales improved the students’ learning motivation. Dardjowidjojo (2001) revealed that teachers strongly believed that the use of folktales certainly improved the students’ learning ability. Deacon ; Murphy (200) revealed that folktales improve students to comprehend the vocabulary usage in context and language forms. Moreover, Abdalla ; Adam (2015) found that that teaching English literature can enhance students’ creative writings, dramatic scenes and develop creative imagination. Meanwhile, Tasneen (2010) found that folktales strongly motivate the students to be creative in writing. Similarly, Khatib,, Shokoufeh & Fathi (2012) and also Violetta-Irene (2015) found that folktales bring the students’ attention in practicing writing to the classroom.