The key to learning English is to practice what you’ve learned, however small – Sir Frank Peters
By our correspondent, Ashikur Rahman
An innovative and unique English language club has been launched in a village near Gazipur to help its youth learn English.
The club is the brainchild of Washim Akram, 20, who is a 2nd Year English honours student and a director of the Jiraitoly Peace & Youth Development Sports Club. The club’s Chief Adviser is Foreign Friend Sir Frank Peters, a former journalist, editor and newspaper publisher from the UK.
“The main purpose of the club is to teach the students of the village self-confidence in speaking English and to increase their English vocabulary,” said Washim.
“The inspiration came to me when Sir Frank was speaking to a group of youths recently and I had acted as his interpreter.
“Sir Frank told them one of the big problems youths have in learning English in Bangladesh is that they do not practice what they learned in the classroom. He said they study English for an hour or so in school, all other subjects are taught in Bangla. Then when they leave the classroom only Bangla is spoken among themselves in their homes and elsewhere. So English is spoken to a minimum and then English becomes seemingly hard to them. The key to learning English is to practice what you’ve learned, however small.
“He told them that if they know a person who has some English that they should speak to them in English and it doesn’t matter if they get it wrong or not. What is important is that they try, they practice and learn from each other to build-up their confidence and vocabulary. It’s a win-win situation for all.
“Listening to him was a Eureka moment for me. I felt that was the solution and that I needed to deliver that message to the youths in the village,” Washim said.
“There are enormous benefits to be gained from learning English – it is the key to the universe. It opens job opportunities for Bangladeshis both here and overseas and those who speak it are awarded higher salaries that enable them to raise their living standards,” he added.
Washim has the full support of the village and already held some classes at which youths and their parents attended.
“Whether a person learns English or any other subject it should be fun,” said Sir Frank. “A person learns much faster when they’re happy and having fun. Corporal punishment has no place in a child’s life. It’s cruel and destroys the joy and thrill of learning,” he said.
“Coronavirus Covid-19 may be recorded in history for its social distancing application, but it’s also helped community-minded people like Washim to bring an entire village together. I wish him all the success in the world, ” he added.
Sir Frank Peters together with Gazipur Councilor Shahinul Alom Mrida M.A., Bashir Ahmed, Convener Pubail Union and Jajir Hossen B.C.S, English Lecturer at Bhawal College officially launched the English Language Club to loud applause from the locals.
Washim said he hopes his scheme will one day go nationwide, but before delivering the template to other villages to emulate, he wants to eliminate any bugs that may be in the system.