By Alhaji Koroma
Senior English lecturer at Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, Gloria Palmer, has told New Age in an interview yesterday that English is lacking at schools.
She claimed this has caused a fall in the teaching of English at schools and has resulted in the failings of children in public examinations.
That English Language determines the mark of education: “a language of status and contact to the Western World that our children should know.”
She recounted reason for English in Sierra Leone as a colony of the British for which the English Language became the official language and the one for instruction.
She pointed out that Sierra Leoneans were used to be in command of English, but said present crop of students are deficient to such quality.
Gloria Palmer stated that it is because the language is not being well in our schools, noting that “most English teachers do not have a sound characteristic of the language.”
“The teachers’ knowledge and command of the English Language is essential to ensuring the students to know the language. And this area must be dealt with accordingly,” she noted.
Gloria disclosed that most teachers are constrained in their use of the Language because of their linguistic background.
“English is not the first language of most Sierra Leoneans. The conflicts of different structural patterns of the language, differences in phonology are but a few of the problems that affect the use of English by our tutors and students,” she put it placidly.
She underscored the fact that English is a major set-back to the education of children, explaining also that WASSCE students perform poorly after writing English paper in external exams because of inadequacies in the use of the said language.
She stated that the results have been these: the misuse of tenses; wrong spellings as a result of the mispronunciation of words; and the wrong use of subjects and verb agreement.
That the problems to this are that most students lack interest in reading; no oral practicing of the language; teachers’ incompetence to teach English Language, absence of libraries in schools; and discerning English as being a difficult language to learn.
She advised that these problems could be solved when there are more trained and qualified teachers of English Language.