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     Volume 4 Issue 34 | February 18, 2005 |

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Aa-Mori Bangla Bhasha

Abu Zafar Md. Saleh

Although the East India Company took many measures to make Bangla language comprehensible for their own business purposes, fortunately it brought many benefits to our sweet language.

Apart from some radical Hindu nationalists, nearly all followers of every religion in this sub-continent could well feel the importance of learning English.

The Muslims were not immune to this problem either. Among the Hindus belonging to the highest caste of that time, practices of Sanskrit, that is, Baidik was a taboo under the veneer of their own-set creed, Kaurobong Norokong. Similarly, devout Muslims also designed their propaganda so that learning a non-Muslim language is a serious sin.

Hindus did not risk being cast out from society if they learnt English and so they welcomed learning it for their livelihood. As a result, Bangali Hindus made considerable advancement in their pursuit of mental and worldly success. But this realisation dawned on Bangali Muslims a bit later and because of this, they lagged behind in all areas -- socio-economic, political and cultural.

We still haven't been able to get away from the effects of this. Bangalis' intense love for their mother tongue has paved the way for such glorious achievements as the observance of Amar Ekushey as International Mother Language Day the world over.

Some days back, while skimming through a newspaper I suddenly found an article by Sirajul Islam Chowdhury titled "Headmaster Shaheb Nijey Poran". In the beginning, the writer tried to shed some light on the present situation and status of Bangla and English in our country. His views seemed to me just and reasonable, as no nation can prosper neglecting his mother language. But we should not forget that learning English is indispensable for a least-developed country like ours. Our country is not like Japan, Austria, Italy, France or Spain countries that can flex their economic muscle over the others therefore, until our economy reaches that position, our first priority should be given to learning English and it should be done in a way by which our talent will be recognised across the globe.

In the second part of the article, Professor Chowdhury criticises the existing communicative method of secondary and higher secondary level of our country. He is an advocate of grammatical method, that is, learning through practices of grammar and translation. Bangalis are very fond of grammar; more specifically, grammatical rules; it is in their blood. Learning grammar is definitely essential for learning English, but the problem arises when one is faced with real language activities like prose, essay or paragraph writing, speaking and communication, where rules are generally integrated. The solution, therefore, is not merely to know the rules, but to know how to use the rules effectively in real language activities.

Another important thing is that the emphasis should not be only on the rules, but should be also on the content, i.e., learning words, idioms and phrases.

The emphasis should be put on the communicative approach. But that does not disregard the role of grammar. Instead of treating grammar as a set of rules to be memorised in isolation, the existing communicative method has integrated grammar items into the lesson activities. This allows grammar to assume a more meaningful role in the learning of English. Thus students develop their language skills by practicing language activities and not merely by knowing the rules of the language.

We must not be parochial. Rather, we should accept English language as indispensable in spreading our talent across the globe.


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