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Testing teachers

Fergus Garrett, Vatuwaqa, Suva
Monday, January 29, 2018

The universities complain of students' poor English. The ministry tests them to see how to improve the standard through in-service "professional development" sessions. Nowhere do I see any concern for oral communication, which is the main part of teaching and learning. UNESCO has published a paper, "If they don't understand, how can they learn?"

Some of our students go to China and do well after a long period of language study, oral and written. But here in Fiji, in all levels from primary to tertiary, they seem to struggle.

How can the Ministry test oral English?

This is a one-to-one exercise that is essential for knowing the standard of communication and improving it. There are many teachers who speak too quickly, who confuse "work" and "walk" etc., who say "Is that clear?" and get a (false) affirmative answer. The teaching of phonics at the earliest stage of acquiring the 52 sounds of English would seem to be essential.

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