Salaam, Everybody,

Some of the comments on my post of September 29 call for my response.

I find it hard to agree with the view of Madam Sameera that MCQs are helpful in testing the students’ knowledge of some vocabulary items like Antonyms, Synonyms etc. In the MCQ format the student is required just to tick one of the three or four choices. He may, by sheer good luck, hit upon the right choice.

But ticking the right choice does not ensure that the student can correctly spell the ticked word. In the old format the students were simply asked to write the Antonyms / Synonyms etc of some given words. In that case they had to know the correct spellings of the words they wrote.

More about that comment of Ms Sameera / Mr Fayyaz tomorrow, InshaALLAH. 2 Oct 2017

Oct 2017MEMORIES —— 2015.
With my sons, Mazhar Ali Malik (Ali Imran) and Muhammad Akram Ali Malik. 3 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Thanks Fayyaz and Sameera, for almost accepting my point of view. Acif Malik rightly underlines the importance of MCQs in Linguistics. Linguistics is a sort of science, you know. Therefore use of MCQs in Linguistics assignments is to a great extent valid. Mr Acif too agrees with me that MCQs are worthless in testing the knowledge of literature. I think they are equally worthless in teaching / testing the knowledge of language. (Linguistics is something other than language).

A part of the comment of Mr Fayyaz dated September 29 still remains to be discussed. I’ll come to that tomorrow, InshaALLAH.

By the way, where is our own sweet Zafar ? Hasn’t been seen around for quite some time. 3 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,
Nice of Zafar to rejoin us last night. He is the radical ( not to say rebel ) among us. Is often skipping our classes. But the good thing about him is that he never runs away beyond hearing distance. The moment I holler out his name he rushes back in with a loud “Yes, Sir.”

As for the point in Mr Fayyaz’s comment that I promised to discuss today, it was about making Viva a compulsory part of all examinations / tests in English language. Mr Fayyaz asks who would tame the teachers to speak English. It’s quite simple I think. When Viva becomes compulsory the teachers would be bound to learn and teach speaking, because it would then be their job requirement. If they fail to do so, they would be in hot water for poor examination results. I hope you get my point. 4 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Here’s a bit of surprise for you. You have been ignoring an obvious fact while lambasting the teachers for poor performance in teaching English.

Don’t you know that every BA BEd teacher is officially considered competent to teach English at school level ? But actually all BA BEd teachers are not interested in teaching the language. Some of them may be interested and competent in teaching some other subjects. Why force them to teach English as well ? Why not single out those who are really interested, and assign them the task of teaching only English ?

6 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

The silence of our two major stake holders (Zafar and Fayyaz) last night either means they agree with my suggestion, or they think it is impracticable.

The suggestion was that only those teachers should be assigned to teach English (at school level) who are really interested in the task. I know from my experience at school level that there are really some teachers who love to teach the language. For them it is a labour of love to improve their knowledge of English in order to teach more effectively. 7 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Assigning the teaching of English to interested teachers does not require a change of policy at the higher level. The Headmasters / Principals can take this measure if they care to do so.

When we were students at school, the Headmasters used to teach English to the 9th and 10th classes. Now, regrettably enough, most of the Headmasters / Principals sit sleepily in their chairs, occasionally waking up to sign a letter or two brought in by a clerk.

Efficient teaching of English is no problem if the heads of institutions focus on it in earnest. 9 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Having arrived at a sort of consensus about the role of the teacher, let us now take a look at the methods of teaching current in our schools and colleges.

In the state- managed Urdu-medium schools and colleges (Government Schools and Colleges) the teachers invariably follow the GTM ( Grammar-Translation Method).

In teaching the prescribed textbook, the teacher just reads out each sentence and translates it into Urdu. The whole book is taught in this way. The students are never required to focus on the language of the given passage. They just get a hazy idea of the contents ( stories, essays or poems ).

More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH . 11 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

GTM (Grammar- Translation Method) creates the faulty perception that a language can’t be learnt without the help of grammar.

Were that a fact how could people manage to learn their mother tongue without first learning its grammar?

Not just the mother tongue, even in learning Urdu we need not learn Urdu grammar.

Why should then we insist on teaching / learning English grammar ? 13 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

GTM (Grammar-Translation Method) lays too much stress on learning of grammar. Students are told that they cannot learn English without learning its grammar.

Learning grammar before acquiring the language is like learning the use of the tool kit before buying a car or bike, isn’t it ? 14 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

I agree with Zafar. A teacher should not be a slave to one particular method. His job is to help the students speak and write English correctly and fluently. He should be free to vary his method according to the capacity and requirements of his class. Every method has its own merits and limitations.

But are our teachers conversant with all the modern methods of teaching / learning ? I would recommend special training for the purpose. In other words, the ball again goes to Mr Fayyaz’s court. Let us hear what he has to say in this regard. 15 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Today’s post is addressed to Sher Bahadur Khan Niazi of It is immensely kind of him to accommodate all my English as well as Urdu posts on his website.

Niazi Sahib, I remember that you sent me some pictures of Mianwalian kids’ favourite games. I was to write English posts about those games,

As I had some health issues and other engagements, I couldn’t write those posts earlier. However, I had downloaded those pictures in my Atwood folder.

About a month back, my good old Lenovo (laptop) fell a prey to some technical problems. I had to install a new RAM. That done, I was shocked to see that the Atwood downloads folder had somehow got deleted. It contained about 200 important downloads including those pictures.

Could you please send me those games’ pictures again ? 16 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

I rarely have time to take a look at the Home page of my Facebook. So it was a pleasant surprise for me today to see that my son, Prof Amjad Ali Malik, has started writing posts about English grammar. Good news for those of you who are interested in grammar, isn’t it ?

As for my English posts, I’ll keep teaching you in my own simple way, just giving you some good English to read in small doses, as usual. 17 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Let us look back at the past to see what we have achieved.

My earliest FB friends know that I started using the Facebook, with a daily English post, in late July, 2015. In those early days I couldn’t write Urdu posts, because I hadn’t yet learnt Urdu composing.

Those early English posts were about my theory of learning English in Pakistan. My theory was based on my experience of teaching English in Pakistani schools and colleges.

I held that since our students had very little opportunities to listen to English, reading was the only way for them to learn the language. I said once the student has learnt to identify English words, he should take a small daily dose of reading good English.

Zafar Niazi and I had quite a quarrel over my concept of good English. Mercifully the quarrel was easily settled as it was a lovers’ quarrel. Moreover I had the advantage of being Zafar’s teacher at college, and his favourite teacher, Zafar confessed.

More of this tomorrow, InshaALLAH. 18 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

My chief argument in support of my theory was that ALLAH has blessed the human brain with a language learning mechanism. It is perfectly automatic like digestion, blood circulation and respiration (breathing). All it needs is feeding. But the feeding should be in the form of sentences, not isolated words.

When you read, the language learning mechanism saves the sentence structures. If you keep up reading regularly for some time, you will soon see that speaking or writing is no problem for you.

I hope the point is clear to you. Zafar and Fayyaz can further elaborate it if you have some confusion about it. 19 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Reading is visual medium of learning. It is the best medium for learning to write. But it isn’t much help in learning to speak fluently.

The aural medium (listening) is the proper medium to learn speaking fluently. But as we all know, the students in Urdu medium schools have almost no opportunity to listen to someone speaking English.

If implemented, my suggestion to make Viva a compulsory part of examinations could ensure some listening, because the teachers would then be bound to speak English.

Until Viva is included in tests / examinations, reading may serve as a medium of learning to speak as far as possible. 21Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Ever heard of a dental surgeon fixing a reparable cellphone, writing beautiful Urdu prose, and loved by his patients for painless extraction of teeth ?
Many of you know him. Could you tell me who I mean ? 22 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Looking back at our business, I am glad to see that Zafar has given you half-a-dozen very useful links to listen in to English dialogues. Listening , you know, is the best way to learn speaking.

Now tell me honestly, did you try any of those links? I’ll comment on your response in my next post. If there is no response, it would mean you didn’t try. Let me see how you behave, in any case.23 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Your silence to my question isn’t unexpected. It shows none of you cared to benefit from the links provided by Zafar, Sad, but not strange. It reflects our national attitude. We don’t like to do things in the proper way. Instead, we look around for shortcuts. But let me tell you there’s no shortcut to learning a language. If you really want to learn, you have to work honestly.

Mashooq Khoso was at least honest enough to admit he didn’t try those links.

Tomorrow, InshaALLAH, we’ll look at the issue from another angle.24 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Allama Iqbal Open University offers a wonderful method to learn speaking English. Recently.I happened to see some of their English textbooks for Intermediate and BA, and was impressed.

Alongside the books, the students are provided recorded cassettes / CDs of dialogues contained in the books. The student is required to read each dialogue from the book and then listen to the relevant recording. The dialogues are about familiar situations from everyday life. Therefore they are immensely useful for learning practical use of the language.

As for how our students and teachers use this valuable facility, that is another story.-25 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

I wonder why my learned colleagues (Zafar and Fayyaz) didn’t respond to last night’s post. It was a richly suggestive post. I didn’t suggest it was necessary to enroll with Allama Iqbal Open University to get those books and cassettes / CDs. The material may be available from the University’s sale points, regional
offices, or people who have completed the courses.

Learning anything is not impossible. It only requires the will to learn. You might have heard where there is will, there is a way. If you are really eager to learn, just make up your mind to do so. You will see how easy it is.26Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

At this stage in our discussion about learning English, I’d like to hear your questions. I hope my colleagues, Zafar and Fayyaz, would help me in fielding the questions.

No questions would mean you are not interested in learning English. Even in that case I would not stop writing for you, because just reading my posts is also a way of learning.-28 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Honesty is what we need more than any change in the system of education. Any system of education can give good results, if implemented honestly. Honesty means honest hard work. Instead, we look for short-cuts and easy ways to get certificates and degrees. Regrettably enough, the teachers encourage and facilitate the dishonest trend, don’t they?

From today onwards let us discuss how to ensure honesty in the field of education. 30 Oct 2017

Salaam, Everybody,

Syed Zafar Abbas Shah has given a new direction to our discussion. But his suggestion is a pretty tall order in the given situation.

Shah Ji, none can deny the importance of your suggestions. We all wish we could have access to the facilities named by you. But as I hinted in response to your comment, the implementation of your suggestions involves an entire change of focus from budgetary allocations to mindset of teachers. In the given situation we can only dream of such changes.

To illustrate my point let me cite an example. Suppose you want to get your Suzuki Swift car repaired. How would you feel, if the mechanic says, “Shah Ji why don’t you throw away this useless old Suzuki, and get a BMW or a Mercedes Benz.” ?

In our present discussion let us focus on how we can make good use of what we do have.  Oct 2017

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