ESL job interview question: Why the majority of the students cannot communicate in English fluently having studied English for 12 years in a school?

Having studied English for so many years, students still cannot communicate in English fluently. This is a common ESL learners' problem worldwide. Here are a few possible responses to the above question (responses given by ESL teachers).

Response 1: Because they do not practice English in their daily life. Also, most of the students depend on memorizing grammar rules and vocabulary and their chances of talking in the classroom are very limited. Moreover, some of them avoid communicating in English because they are afraid of making errors or mistakes and the background of English language that they have learned is very weak.

Response 2: Because of the topics of the subjects that were included into their curriculum. They need more specific topics and subjects that develop creativity and task-based learning. Inclusion of more interesting topics would help them to talk a lot and would involve them in discussions. The students should be exposed to creative materials and activities that could enable them to learn more effectively.

Response 3: Because they do not use English language in their homes and their daily life. The language needs some practices to be learned. Also, parents do not motive them. Third, the teachers should engage the students in activities to improve their language and they also need more substitute lessons include activities or stories to develop the four skills.

Response 4: The important problem is the students themselves. They translate all the words in English even in their presentations; they write what they will say in their mother tongue (but meaning in English). Moreover, in the classroom, they use their mother tongue and sometimes they even say the meaning in their mother tongue. In my opinion, I think the teacher should force them to speak in English even if they can say key words (basic vocabulary).

Response 5: The main problem is the English curriculum because it focuses more in grammar rather than speaking. In addition, this problem might happen or occur because of the teacher. Some teachers encourage their students to speak English during the lesson and others do not care about practicing English language in classroom they just want to finish the lesson.

Response 6: English basics should be intensively repeats stressing on the full understanding throughout intensive exercises and different practices. The problem is that most students neglect the basics of grammar and linguistic forms. On the other side, parents should seriously engage and participate in the educational process through their motivation and supervision with good care and side by side to the educational school staff following up their children behaviors and interests.

Response 7: Students need good and simple start from the beginning, e.g. from kindergarten classes. Students learn more English only for their exams. After that they do not learn or use whatever they had learned.

Response 8: In my opinion, lack of communication comes as a result of very little practice. Students deal with English for about 40 minutes every day. This is not adequate practice. They have to practice more to make the language perfect. Even at home, students are not keen about watching or listening to programs in English. They prefer programs in their mother tongue. Finally, more practice means good communication.

Response 9: Maybe because of the limited practice of the target language outside the classrooms and  the limited time assigned to learn English through the week, so there is a very limited time given to practice the language. Also, the society does not encourage students to practice the language.

Response 10: Only few students do their best studying hard. The majority of them do not have the needed motivation for educational process in general. In my point of view, parents give them comfortable lifestyle without planting the feeling of responsibility in their souls to help themselves and to work independently.

Response 11: I think, the most important reason affects learning in general the atmosphere of the family. Learning is not the first in order of students’ interests. Parents depend only on school. They do not activate the language functions in their daily life. But  some make their children read stories, watch English programs, listen to native speakers and speak English at home, in the street, shopping centers, etc. In addition, encouraging students to write short stories, describing pictures or expressing their opinions is helpful to improve the language and their critical thinking abilities.

Response 12: Students usually do not feel confident when they speak English because they have a lack of grammar knowledge and vocabulary to speak fluently. They are usually afraid of making mistakes, so they do not try to speak in English. Also, students do not have enough time to practice the language in the classroom because the lesson time is too short.

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