Myanmar in EnglishBurma in English
Learn English in Myanmar
"I' m going bilingually, so you may not comprehend some parts of my group. "A great middle-aged Myanmar schoolteacher, clad in a brown folk costume, told me her lesson plan at the beginning of her English classes at a non-governmental third grade university. It is a 40 minutes walk by cab from Yangon town centre, the former Myanmar capitol.
In view of the 50 or so pupils from different ethnical background in her classes, she began to participate and then began to commission her pupils to work on the section "Iceland as a travel destination" in her text book "Reisen". I' ve never been to Iceland and I'm not sure how many of these pupils will ever go to the Scandinavian countries, but when I look around the classroom I see all the pupils sticking to their schoolbook.
In view of recent trends in the countryside, it is important to teach English for the tourist industry. On the road to further democratisation, Myanmar is quickly becoming an appealing tourist resort. In comparison to my first trip to Myanmar two years ago, this year I saw more westerly visitors with a regional tourist in town.
Myanmar, praised by multinational investment as the "last border in ASEAN", has also seen a sharp rise in the number of travelers from all over the globe. Simultaneously, the state is taking numerous steps to promote the tourist industry. In fact, many of my friends at the above named college have said that they want to be considered for a fellowship to go abroad.
There are many fellowship programmes available, but all demand a high level of English. In this phase, his language skills are largely dependent on the English language for the benefit of him and his budding schoolmates. A lot of our native English language instructors are bilingual, like the instructor I referred to in the introductory remarks, and the emphasis is on hands-on English, e.g. English for travel.
It' evident that studying English in Yangon is a serious matter. But not all of our schoolteachers seem to be aware of this. Suppose honorary instructors are welcome in a land where English lessons are taken so seriously, I said: "Oh, that's great! This was because the US professor's doctrinal approaches did not correspond to his feeling of identification as an English learner:
Well, we didn't like her grade because she was treating us like kids. So she gave us children's literature to study, and how, we're grown-ups, but she asked us to chant and we were like, what the hell...? Elizabeth's history reminds me of a similar event when I studied at a two-year Tokyo School of English in the 1990s.
During the second weeks we said at the beginning of the course that we were insulted by her election of Mother Goose. "What she didn't know was that many of my schoolmates could have gone to a four-year college with ease, but she decided to go to this nursery to study English for professional and professional use.
Like the kids I ran into in Yangon, English was not a funny pastime for us, but a serious game. It has learnt, albeit the tough way, that the choice of study material presupposes knowledge of its students' feelings of identification and desires. On the other hand, the teacher who teaches at Elisabeth's academy seems to have gone home without realizing how objectionable her study material might have been for some of her schoolchildren.
Be they guidebooks, clerical staff or English instructors, or continuing to learn abroad, it can be useful to read US children's literature and learn Christmas carols, but there is also a danger that the human rights of grown-up pupils will be violated. Obviously, it will depend on the contexts in which teaching will take place whether or not it is better to have hands-on manuals such as travel rather than children's literature.
Childrens textbooks or songbooks can be very useful for an adult who learns a new langauge, but the material must meet the students' needs and its purposes must be clearly stated. All this is English 101, and the recent upsurge in English instruction in Myanmar shows that there are many ways to put good English to work.