An observation study of English lessons in primary and secondary schools in Bangladesh. Baseline Study 3

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English is taught as a compulsory subject in Bangladeshi schools. However, while the national ‘English for Today’ curriculum stresses communicative use of the language, this does not appear to be effectively implemented. Baseline Study 3 examined the current classroom practices in English lessons, as the EIA interventions in the Primary and Secondary sectors will seek to enhance and supplement pedagogical practices for communicative English.

A total of 252 classroom observations were undertaken during English lessons in both Primary and Secondary schools. Information was recorded about the classroom environment and the professional background and experience of the teacher being observed. During the lesson a ‘time sampling’ technique was used to record what type of activity (from a pre-determined list) the teacher and students were doing a selected points. The observers could also annotate the instrument with any details that would complete the account of the lesson. The observation data collected provides an indication of the
types of activity that happen in English classes at the start, during and at the end of lessons.

A couple of the key findings:

  • Classrooms are generally clean and tidy, have good natural light and basic teaching equipment like a blackboard and chalk are present there. Often there is sufficient furniture for the students present in class. However, there is little evidence of students’ work on display and learning and teaching materials are usually not visible.
  • Overall, in 64% of the classes observed at least three-quarters of the students had a textbook and, in 77% of classes, all students had an exercise book and something to write with. Use of an unofficial Guide Book is not a usual practice in the schools. In 70% of all lessons observed there were no students with such a resource.
  • Overall, most teachers greet the students and for the majority of lessons they wrote the topic on the blackboard. In many classes the teacher clarified the objectives of the lesson to the students (26%) and/or recapped the previous English lesson (24%). However, in about the same proportion of classes the teacher began teaching without any reference to previous learning (29%) and/or without providing an explanation of what the lesson would cover (25%).
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