Teach English in GAlutu Zhen - E'erduosi Shi — Ordos

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What are the common problem of English as a Foreign Language EFL learners in Laos? According to EF English Proficiency Index 2019, Laos got the lowest results of 37.56 among the Asian countries. English is not the native language of this country. Majority of Lao people speak Lao dialect. As of the moment, there are many English language Centers in Laos now. They hired foreign teachers to teach their children. I have been here for six months, and I’m currently teaching Pre- Intermediate class. Based on my observation from my students, their most common problems are pronunciation, spelling, fluency, lack of confidence, limited exposure to the language, and limited opportunities to use the language. Pronunciations Lao alphabet is phonetic. It’s a tonal language with 6 tones, low, mid, high, rising, high falling, and low falling. Lao learners are having difficulty saying the \r\, \s\, \sh\, \h\ sounds. In Lao there are not two or more consonants following one another in one syllable or word, unlike the English language, there are a lot. The EFL learners struggle in this area. Spelling Most of EFL learners are not good in spelling. They struggle in remembering the correct spelling of the word. It affects the way they pronounce the words. Most of them are not English book readers, so they are dependent only on the vocabularies given on their course books. Fluency They usually lack interaction and communication with native speakers so their fluency would be less compare to the native speakers. There are many backpackers foreigners who come and go in Laos, but only few students have the chance to really mingle with foreigners. They are too shy to interact with foreigners. Lack of confidence Most EFL learners are lack of confidence to even use the English language in everyday contexts. Their culture is sensitive to shame. So, they are scared of making mistakes as they practice the language. Their faces turned red if they mispronounce the words. In my class, I taught them to just laugh when you said the word wrongly. It’s normal, just like I laughed and they’re laughing at me when I mispronounced a Lao word. Even if the students know the answer or understand what the teacher was saying, they are hesitant to answer, they are too shy, because of lack of confidence. They don’t want to participate in class activity, too. They’re too scared to make mistakes. I understand them, because learning a second language is difficult. Yet, they must try and give their best. Limited exposure to the language Students in Laos cannot find enough opportunities to hear and speak the English language in their daily activities. In their local schools, especially in countryside they don’t have a subject that teaching them conversational English. They just learn the alphabets and the numbers. They don’t have English books or any English materials available for the students’ free use. Only the children of those who can afford send their children in a private language school to study. In the University, only those who have special studies in English have an opportunity for exposure. Some local Lao English teachers only speak English when they need to, but use their local language to explain most of grammatical concepts. Limited opportunity to use the language They don’t have many opportunities to practice the language in their day to day activity. They can only practice the language during class hours. Outside the classroom, in a local context, they don’t practice it so it has tremendous effect in their fluency and confidence. Some of them, they do not see the value in learning English because in the community that they live, even in their schools they don’t use it in a daily basis. In the classroom, due to classes that have too many students not everyone has given ample opportunity to use the language. As a teacher, it’s hard to give attention to each student. It’s very challenging to keep the students engaged. Facing with these six common problems mainly: 1) pronunciation, 2) spelling, 3) fluency, 4) lack of confidence, 5) limited exposure to the language and 6) limited opportunity to use it poses a great challenge for an EFL provider in a country wherein English is almost unpopular to everybody. He must possess the necessary abilities and skills to be able to suffice the needs of his students.