“Dream and realities”, a book on developing countries and the English language, by Hywel Coleman, was launched by British Council on the second day of 27th Society of Pakisan English Language Teachers (SPELT) conference at Habib Public School.
The book took seven months to compile and brings together work from contributors with a wide range of backgrounds and origins, covering different aspects of learning English in developing countries. It has a chapter by Prof. Fauzia Shamim, from English department of Karachi University, called “English as the language for development in Pakistan: Issues, challenges and possible solutions.”
Zakia Sarwar, the executive director of SPELT, Fatima Shahabuddin, Abbas Hussain, Hina Hussain Kazmi, the director of Teachers’ Development Centre, and Ray Brown, an adviser of English language for British Council, were among the guests.
Fatima Shahabuddin said that the book was interesting because it is easy to understand and one can relate to it. “After reading it I got to know the similarities among 15 developing countries of Asia and Africa,” she said. “They are going through the same problems we are and have achieved their goals of development.”
A Dr of linguistics, Hina Hussain Kazmi, said that she found the book very helpful, both as a student and a teacher. “A book like this should also be published locally,” she added. “The techniques in the book will help researchers in their studies especially in Pakistan.”
Ray Brown, English language adviser to the British Council, talked about the feasibility of investing in English learning applications for mobile users. He asked the participants to make groups of 10 and pen down their suggestions for problems faced by the people in learning English and how to overcome them.
The papers were submitted to the officials of British Council who promised to raise them in front of national educational policy makers. “Governments around the world are recognising the importance of English to their economies” said Brown. “Societies and individuals see English as a tool to help them fulfill personal aspirations.” However, there are still complex issues and challenges associated with this scenario and the educational bureaucracy of Pakistan needs to rethink their plans.
Hywel Coleman is my tutor, declared Zakia Sarwar. She stressed that bureaucrats should take the importance of English into account when making policies. “All development workers should focus on research because it helps coming up with efficient solutions,” she added.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2011.