“We are taught English as a subject in school but we have trouble communicating in the language,” Asherul Hassan, a second year student at University of Engineering and Technology (UET) says.
Hassan and 19 other students from eight different universities are enrolled in an English language summer camp set up by the United States consulate general. The camp offers students a chance to learn English with a special focus on communication. The two-week camp is free. Students are selected after submitting a series of forms and interviews over the telephone.
The camp targets students in the 18 to 21 age bracket.
“Our aim is to give an average student a chance to learn the language,” says Umar Anjum, the instructor. “Pakistan’s education system teaches students English but it fails to help them learn and understand it,” he says.
Anjum says students at the camp have interactive sessions to help them communicate better.
“We tell our students not to be afraid of making mistakes. That is where their confidence comes from,” he says.
Tayyaba Fatima and Ayesha Rasool, students of the English Language Teaching and Linguistics at the Punjab University, say language courses are especially important for teachers.
“English is the medium of instruction. It is essential for teachers ,therefore, to have command over the language,” Fatima says.
Hina Qasim, another UET student, says the camp has helped them develop confidence to communicate in English.
“Breaking out of the fear of not being able to speak correctly is important,” she says.
Umar Saeed, another engineering student, says he us also learning social etiquette at the camp.
“It’s not about just having your say. A conversation also involves listening to people. I learnt to appreciate that part of a conversation at this camp,” he said.
Every year, a batch of 20 students arrives for the camp. This year students from the University of Engineering and Technology, Punjab University, Superior University, Lahore College for Women University, Kinnaird College, University of Lahore, Pakistan Homeopathic Medical College and the National University of Science and Technology Karachi took part in the camp. The camp ended on Friday with the Consul General Nina Maria Fite distributing certificates to the students.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 20th, 2013.