This study is designed to identify and analyze the English Language Competency of primary teachers of government schools. For this purpose, a survey will be conducted among teachers with the help of questionnaire and visits of classes. Furthermore, some interviews of education officers e.g. Assistant Education Officers will also be conducted. By all these methods the collected data will be analyzed to judge the competency level of teachers. Root causes behind the problem of poor competency will also be found and some suggestions for the solution of the problem will be made.
Some previous researches will also be studied by researcher to enhance his/ her acknowledgment. Except this background of English language in Pakistan will be discussed and other languages and their effects on English Language Competency. English Language Teaching methods i.e. Grammar Translation Method and Direct Method will also be discussed with their effectiveness. Views of teachers and observer officers will be collected about these methods and the collected data will be used to find desired results and make solutions.
Problems which teachers have to face while teaching will be discussed in the light of collected data. Some ground realities and factors which effect their competencies e.g. environment, teachers’ ability, qualification etc. will be discussed. Four language skills i.e. listening, reading, writing and speaking and vocabulary of teachers will also be discussed during the survey. Government Education Policies will be studied briefly and findings will be made. Some new projects of government in this regard e.g. PEELI will be discussed with teachers and their views will be collected about these policies and projects.
Competency in any field is of the core importance for a perfect completion of task. So, in English teaching English Language Competency has the same importance because students don’t simply follow the instructions but the imitate the instructor. If a language teacher has a poor competency level he will not be able to teach his students perfectly. An American researcher Hywel Coleman found the causes of poor English Language Competency of Pakistanis. He says that we take English not as a language but as a subject. This is the first reason of the problem. The other one is that teachers don’t use English in their teaching. They use Urdu or other regional languages.
“The global spread of English as an international language, i.e. a language used for communication among people who do not share the same language, is deeply rooted in the dominance of Britain and the United States as world powers. The colonial history of the British Empire, the industrial revolution, globalization and international commerce and travel, the internet and the appeal of British and American pop culture are traditionally considered to be the catalysts for the global expansion of English as a lingua franca” (Crystal, 2003).
“Accepted statistics estimate that the total number of English speakers is about 1.5-2 billion speakers, distributed around the world not only in countries where English is the primary official language (inner circle: e.g. UK), but also in countries where English serves as one of the official languages (outer circle: e.g. India) and in countries where English is used as a foreign language for international communication (expanding circle: e.g. China)” (Kachru, 1989).
“The global status achieved by the English language is attested by the fact that the majority of English speakers is no longer represented by so-called native speakers (NS), but by those who use it as a second or foreign language at both national and international level (McKay, 2002). In fact, non-native speakers (NNS), or bilingual/multilingual users of English (ibid), have been reported to outnumber monolingual users (NS) by a 4:1 ratio (Crystal, 2012) and communication among bilingual/multilingual users (NNS) represents 74% of global English use” (Graddol, 2006).
“The increasing importance of ‘foreign’ language users has prompted linguists to revise the traditional geographical model of English use and shift the focus to issues related to language proficiency: the revised model presents the global community of English speakers concentrically expanding outwards from high to low levels of language proficiency” (Graddol, 2006).
1 Definition of competency:
It is the ability to do a task effectively. The knowledge, skills and behaviors needed to get a job done. There are six main types of competency.
Individual Competency– This type refers to a person’s own knowledge, skills, and attitudes (behavior) that contribute to effectiveness in performance, as well as in dealings with other people.
Business Competency– This refers to the knowledge and skills required in a particular business or industry.
Management Competency– This refers to a set of competencies that are applicable only to supervisory and managerial positions or roles, that are more commonly task-oriented.
Leadership Competency– This refers to the required competencies for leadership roles such as that of a team leader. These competencies make an individual effective in their position as leader of a group.
Functional Competency– This type of competency is specific to a certain job. For example, a computer programmer must be knowledgeable and skilled when it comes to various programming languages such as Java, Python, and C++.
Core Competency– This refers to general competencies specific to an organization. It is the way the organization and its members work.
In this paper our concern is with the first one i.e. individual competency because it deals with one’s personal skills. Language competency is one of these. Our focus in this paper is the competency level of teachers of primary schools of government sector. We will discuss their language competency level, their problems, difficulties and suggestions for the solution of these issues.
Urdu is Pakistan’s national language whilst English has the status of ‘official language’. However, there are believed to be 72 living languages in the country, not including English. The numbers of speakers of these languages range from the tiny Aer language (150 speakers) and Gowro language (200 speakers) up to Western Panjabi with nearly 61 million speakers (38% of the population).
There are fourteen of these and in total they are spoken by 134 million people (85% of the population). This means that the remaining 58 languages are spoken by a total of 24 million people (15% of the population). It is important to note that Urdu, the national language, comes in fourth place among the languages with the largest number of speakers; fewer than 7% of the population have Urdu as their first language.
Some of the language e.g. ‘Northern Hindko’ and ‘Central Pashto’
may be familiar only to linguists. Native speakers themselves may group languages
differently, in such a way that the differences which would lead linguists to identify distinct languages may be seen by their speakers merely as dialectal differences.
Now we find that there are just seven languages and macrolanguages in Pakistan which have at least one million speakers. Between them they are spoken by nearly 135 million people (85% of the population). The remaining 15% of the population speak 55 different languages.
During the British colonial era the language in education policy was that Urdu should be the medium of instruction for the masses and that English should be the medium for the elite. This colonial era policy was criticized as early as the 1880s for effectively divorcing the people of Punjab from their sociolinguistic roots. Punjabis in general were not educated in Punjabi and so lost access to the sources of their folk knowledge; meanwhile Hindu Punjabis were not educated in Sanskrit and Muslim Punjabis were not educated in Persian so that both groups lost contact with the literary sources of their cultures. In effect, then, the colonial era Urdu + English policy has remained in place throughout independence. It has been argued that this Urdu + English policy contributes to a sense of cultural anomie experienced by many people in contemporary Pakistan. Indeed, one informant said, ‘Pakistan is a nation of people who don’t know who they are.
In contemporary Pakistan, then, Urdu is the medium of instruction in government schools, English is the medium in elite private schools and English is claimed to be the medium in nonelite private schools. Of the 71 other indigenous languages only, Sindhi has an official role as medium of instruction in primary schools in Sindh and Pashto is used in government schools in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province. English is a compulsory subject from Year 1. In practice, however, much depends on the availability of teachers; a few government schools have an English medium section whilst in others pupils do not get beyond learning the English alphabet in their five years in primary school.
The current Urdu + English policy carries with it several characteristics, of which the following three are most prominent:
1) English is an examination subject,
2) English teachers do not use English
3) other languages are marginalized
English is an examination subject
It is widely recognized that the primary function of teaching English in schools in Pakistan is to prepare pupils for examinations. Passing examinations in English then opens doors to higher levels of learning and to employment opportunities. One informant noted. English is a major barrier to entry to white collar jobs. … English is very important for social mobility and entry to quality education. Consequently, there is apartheid in education because of language. The poor are excluded. Repeatedly we are told that English is essential for admission to government service. But ironically there is no discussion of the language or languages which, having become a government officer, one might need in order to communicate with and serve the public. It appears that in daily life for the majority of the population – especially outside the major cities – English actually has no functional value. According to one interviewee, for the population of the Saraiki-speaking area of southern Punjab even Urdu is a ‘foreign’ language. As for English, he claimed, ‘These kids will never in their lives need to speak English. They’ll never read a book in English.’ Another interviewee, from Islamabad, said, ‘The common people don’t use English.’
English teachers do not use English
Observers report that the teaching of English in government schools is highly ritualized. For example, a detailed ethnographic study by Fauzia Shamim found that English teachers made a distinction between ‘doing a lesson’ and ‘doing grammar’. ‘Doing a lesson’ consists of the following stages:
• A text (the ‘lesson’) is read aloud by the teacher or pupils
• The text is explained by the teacher, often in Urdu or a local language
• The meanings of ‘difficult words’ are given in English, Urdu or a local language
• Pupils write follow-up exercises in their notebooks.
Meanwhile ‘doing grammar’ consists of the following steps:
• The form of a grammar item is explained by the teacher
• Pupils write sentences illustrating the grammar item
• The teacher dictates an essay or letter or writes it on the blackboard to be copied by
• Pupils memorize the essay or letter and reproduce it in the examination.
The reproduction of set texts and the provision of memorized written answers to questions about those texts means that the teaching of English neglects speaking, listening and critical reading. Moreover, English teachers – especially in government schools – tend to teach the language through the medium of Urdu or a local language because their own competence in English is poor or because they have so little confidence in their own competence.
Other languages are marginalized
There is a widespread perception that other languages are an inconvenience which prevent people from doing their jobs properly. A senior Pakistani educationist working for an American educational organization operating in Baluchistan and Sindh said that her organization experiences no difficulties in Baluchistan ‘because they the population speak either Urdu or English’. However, in Sindh, she said, ‘They’re very attached to their local language so it’s very difficult for us to do our work.’
Many teachers feel that their jobs would be easier if children entered school (not only
secondary but also primary school) already knowing English. One teacher said that the
‘intellectual level’ of poor children who speak Punjabi at home is lower than that of (middle class) children who speak English at home and this makes teaching the Punjabi speakers difficult for her. Another teacher suggested that parents should speak English at home so that studying in school would be easier for their children. Yet another argued that children should learn English in nursery school so that she and her colleagues in primary school would not face so many problems.
Not surprisingly when a particular language is given no role to play in the education system, many parents respond by not encouraging the use of that language at home. A very effective way of killing a language is to deny it any place in the education system; parents themselves will then tend to take the next step of marginalizing the local language within the family in favor of the educationally privileged language or languages. The Secretary Schools in the Punjab Ministry of Education recognized that this process is happening in his province when he said, ‘Mothers have struck a fatal blow to Punjabi.’ This process is not restricted to Pakistan but has been identified in other countries as well: Medium of instruction policy determines which social and linguistic groups have access to political and economic opportunities, and which groups are disenfranchised.
The 2009 National Education Policy
Although as we have seen previous policy announcements regarding the roles of English and Urdu in education have had relatively little influence on actual practice, the current state of affairs is likely to be impacted in a significant way by the 2009 National Education Policy. This document actually says relatively little about languages in education in Pakistan. For example, Section 5.4 discusses the importance of literacy and non-formal learning but without saying anything at all about which language or which writing system people are to be helped to become literate in or what functions literacy is expected to have. However, importantly, the National Education Policy proposes that a comprehensive school language policy should be developed in consultation with provincial and area governments and other stakeholders. It also states that the Ministry of Education – in consultation with provincial and area education departments, relevant professional bodies and the wider public – is to develop a comprehensive plan of action for implementing the English language policy (see below) in the shortest possible time, paying particular attention to disadvantaged groups and regions. Furthermore, opportunities are to be provided to children ‘from low socio-economic strata’ to learn English.
The policy states that the curriculum from Class I onward shall include English (as a subject), Urdu, one regional language and mathematics. The new policy also states that provincial and area education departments ‘shall have the choice to select the medium of instruction up to Class V’ – although this is partially contradicted by the requirement that ‘English shall be employed as the medium of instruction for sciences and mathematics from Class IV onwards.’ Elsewhere, the new policy requires that ‘for five years Provinces shall have the option to teach mathematics and science in English or Urdu/official regional language, but after five years the teaching of these subjects shall be in English only.’ These three policy statements taken together raise a number of questions:
• It is stated that any language can be used in Classes I to V. But there is no explicit
statement about which language or languages are to be used in secondary classes.
• Despite the statement that any language can be used in Classes I to V it is also stated
that English must be used for teaching science and mathematics in Classes IV and V. But
how can these two requirements be reconciled?
• Urdu and regional languages can be used for teaching science and mathematics
between 2009 and 2014. Does this statement refer to both primary and secondary levels?
• From 2014 English must be used for teaching science and mathematics. Again, does this mean in both primary and secondary schools?
The rationale for this policy is that: It is not easy to obtain a white-collar job in either the public or private sectors without a minimum level proficiency in the English language and thus English language also works as one of the sources for social stratification between elite and non-elite. Consequently, the argument goes, all children must be introduced to English at an early age as a step towards reducing social stratification. But this rationale can be challenged from a number of perspectives:
• Justifying language choice in primary school in terms of the requirements for entry to
white collar employment seems inappropriate if the population is largely rural and unlikely to be seeking office jobs whether in the government or private sectors
• The majority of pupils in the early years of primary school never complete secondary
school and indeed many drop out of primary school before reaching Class 5. It would
therefore seem to make more sense to equip children with the skills which will be of
immediate value to them.
• The commendable democratizing sentiment expressed in the desire to reduce social
stratification might constitute an argument for improving the quality of teaching English
as a subject throughout the education system but it does not necessarily imply that
English should be used as a medium of instruction. In fact, a persuasive argument has
been made that this ‘democratizing’ approach may ultimately lead to widespread
illiteracy, rather than literacy, in general and particularly in English.
There seems to be confusion or disagreement as to how this policy is to be implemented:
• An informant in Lahore reported that the Chief Minister of Punjab wants all teachers in the province to be ‘trained in English’ to support the new English medium policy.
• A senior educationist in Lahore said that Punjab would lead the way in implementing the new policy from April 2010. Science is to be taught in English from Year 4; 35,000 new teachers are to be given four weeks of training in English to help them adapt to this
policy; headteachers are to be trained in how to conduct the school assembly in English;
CDs containing selected English sentences which can be used in classroom management
will be distributed to schools.
• Teachers in three government primary schools in Okara, Punjab, interviewed on 11th
March 2010, were convinced that they would be teaching science and mathematics from
Year 1 starting from 1st April. They said that they were still waiting for instructions and
teaching materials from the government but they were not expecting to experience any
difficulties in teaching through the medium of English because they were ‘educated
people’. (Nevertheless teachers in one of these schools chose to be interviewed through
an interpreter because they did not understand my English.)
• An observer in Karachi stated, ‘The English medium policy for science and mathematics was announced in 2006. It will be introduced from 2010 over a period of two years. … The policy is really to start teaching science and mathematics though English from Year 1 but in reality schools will start from Year 4 or Year 3. The Textbook Board has not provided books yet.’ Clearly these perceptions and statements are mutually incompatible. It is particularly striking that the teachers interviewed in Okara were confident that they would be teaching science and mathematics to Year 1 children through English in less than three weeks’ time whereas the Secretary, Schools, for the Province of Punjab believed that teachers would be teaching science through English to Year 4 pupils. The conclusion appears to be that plans for the implementation of the new language in education policy are still evolving.
Teaching of English A generally believed fact is that without being aware of the aims of any task, its desired result cannot be achieved. To make learning much effective and systematic, teachers should be clear about the long-term goals and specific aims of teaching English (James, 2001). The aims of teaching English at secondary level are manifolds, such as to equip learners with the four language skills; listening, reading, speaking and writing. Listening is considered to be the very basic and important skill of any language. Listening provides base for the other language skills. According to Shahid, (2002, p. 210), “Listening is a process which involves perceiving that there is a systematic message, in a continuous stream of sound and then apprehending and identifying within this stream bounded elements the listener has never heard in exactly this form before”. It suggests that listening skill requires profound knowledge of phonology or sound system of the language. If we follow the natural approach of language-learning, listening is to be the first step in language acquisition. Listening exercises must be constructed carefully and step-by-step (Brown and Yule, 1999). There is a strong argument for spending more time training pupils’ listening skills before we introduce them to more complex oral exercises (Barton, 2006). The teacher should also ensure that the learners know the words happening in the listening activity. The students should be told about the reason or the purpose of the activity i.e. what they are supposed to do after listening and why they are given this training.
According to the natural approach to language acquisition, speaking is the next language skill after listening. The speaking skill requires the correct use of vocabulary items, the ability to recall words spontaneously and grammatical accuracy. Moreover, speaking also demands correct pronunciation, fluency in producing rhythm, stress and intonation. Overcoming all these aspects makes learning spoken language as the most difficult task for both teachers and students (Brown and Yule, 1999). Speaking serves the main purpose of language that is to communicate and to establish social relationship. If a language is to be acquired for the communicative purpose, speaking is the foremost means of communication. Therefore, the most important skill that the learner requires is the oral skill or the speaking skill and the main goal in teaching the productive skill of speaking is oral fluency. According to Wyse and Jones (2001, p. 190), “It is important that teachers recognize their own histories and status as language users, and resist the temptation to impose their own social criteria on the child’s ongoing language development”. Therefore, the teacher should know the process of language learning especially regarding speaking and try to follow the same process in the classroom. The obvious function of a teacher is to direct and control learners activities; what they are to do, how to do and when to do (Mercer, 1998). Students should be encouraged to speak and their errors have to be ignored. As Baker and Westrup (2000, p. 80) opine, “Students are learning when they make mistakes or help to correct other students’ mistakes”.
All new learning comes through reading, so reading is very important language skill. The education of a child is imperfect unless he is equipped with the ability of reading to interpret and understand the contents of a reading material. Therefore, Dr. West gives more emphasis upon the reading skill. In reading, the reader’s goal is to understand and absorb the writer’s purpose. Students need a reason to read which can be achieved by setting a meaningful task (Watkins, 2007). The second language learners cannot be made effective readers unless they are taught the skill of reading. Teachers have to use different techniques to teach reading and provide students with practice opportunities. Reading should gradually move from simple to difficult. Kropp (1993) states, “Some children have literally never heard the words or ideas they are being asked to read in books. As a result, reading becomes more frustrating” (p.28). The words related to the experience of the learners and those that have been known to them by listening and conversation must come first. It should start with blackboard and flash cards not with textbook. Then gradually introducing the techniques of skimming, scanning, predicting, guessing the meaning of unfamiliar words etc. will be helpful to acquire fluency in reading.
Writing is translating thoughts into language. As there is no personal contact between the writer and reader, writing should be very neat, simple and clear so that a reader will understand it without any help. The mistakes go unnoticed in speaking that is not so in writing. The learners may gradually be acquainted with the writing techniques. Developing writing skill needs proper guidance by the teacher and constant practice by the students. According to Potts and Nicholas, (1958, p. 17), “… to write well you must be willing to rewrite often, to take your time in writing, and never to be satisfied with less you’re your best work”. One cannot produce an effective writing until the writing devices are taught and made into use. Since the system of writing differ from language to language, a teacher has to be clear about such differences and train students accordingly (Czerniewska, 1998). Moreover, teachers familiarize students not only with the textual features that are characteristic of genres in different disciplines but also with the forms of thinking that give rise to these genres (Beck, 2009). Therefore, learners should be given opportunity to look at the various written formats because we need different strategies for writing different formats. Like speaking, fluency and correctness in writing comes through regular practice. We should allow our students to write about their ideas, experiences and interests. Teacher should encourage students to write freely and appreciate their efforts. For writing skill, knowledge of grammar is essential. The students also feel difficulty with spellings that discourages the writing skill. Extensive reading practice and constant writing practice will be helpful to solve the spelling problems. Most importantly, a teacher has to understand the typical stages that learners pass through in their writing (Wyse and Jones, 2001).
The literature on various language skills presented above suggests that language is not merely assimilation of knowledge and information rather it is active acquisition of communicative competencies. Such purpose of language has given rise to communicative approach which could help the students grasp how to use target language to communicate appropriately, fluently and effectively by being more concerned with students’ initiative and interaction rather than simply with teacher-centered direction (Demirezen, 2011). However, to facilitate language acquisition through communicative approach, the teachers’ competency and students’ confidence as well as motivation play important role. The studies conducted in Asian contexts reveal that learners in most Asian countries feel shy and nervous while using English (Patil, 2008). In order to overcome the challenge of learners’ shyness and enable them speak, read and write English fluently, Patil suggests to create opportunities for them to use English in meaningful, realistic, relevant situations. Games, role play activities, information gap tasks, brain storming exercises, riddles, puzzles, cartoons, anecdotes, jokes, songs, and other low-cost and easily available teaching materials come handy. Learners enjoy toying with the language, experimenting with it and gradually but surely feel confident and comfortable with the language. Once they have got rid of fear complex, they try to use English creatively. Since they are not scared of making mistakes, they try to use as much language as they can and in due course of time pick up more vocabulary and structures. (p.239)
However, the above-mentioned strategies could be used by a competent and well-trained teacher. Unfortunately, lack of trained teachers proficient in the English language has consistently emerged as a big challenge in Pakistan (Aslam, et al. 2010; Behloland Anwar, 2011; Shamim, 2008). In rural context especially in the context of Chitral, English teachers hardly avail any in-service professional development opportunities as neither government nor any NGOs arrange such course for English teachers at secondary level. The pre-service courses have already been considered outdated and instead of practical teaching skills, the emphasis remains on theory (Siddiqui, 2010). Since the ground realities in the rural context differ from other context, there may be different approaches to the teaching of English as a teacher may adopt particular practices which are seen to be appropriate to the specific culture of the teaching situation (Hird, et al, 2000). Thus, it seems an interesting and timely question to explore the instructional practices of secondary level English teachers in Chitral; a rural and mountainous district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province, Pakistan. The study also investigates the reason behind the particular approaches of teachers towards teaching of English.
Significance of Vocabulary
Vocabulary is main aspect of language learning. According to Hunt and Beglar (2005, p. 2), “the heart of language comprehension and use is the lexicon”. Due to the fact that English is international language and the language of modern science a person’s knowledge hinges on the size of English vocabulary he/she owns. The success of an individual in second language is dominated by his/her vocabulary. It builds up one’s control over the second language and this gives one confidence. Dearth of stock of words or inability to recall the correct words makes one incompetent, be it oral or written. The established facts about the vocabulary are that:
Vocabulary size has been directly linked to reading comprehension;
an extensive vocabulary aids expressions and communication;
linguistic vocabulary is synonymous with thinking vocabulary;
a person may be judged by others based on his or her vocabulary.
Vocabulary plays significant role in children’s development, predominantly in reading. It was noticed that children with better vocabularies had better academic achievements in general (Smith, 1941) and far better achievement in reading in particular (Anderson & Freebody, 1981; Graves, 1986; Stahl, 1998). In fact, students with higher vocabularies had higher IQs (Bell, Lassiter, Matthews, & Hutchinson, 2001; Hodapp & Gerken, 1999).According to Stahl (2005) vocabulary knowledge is the knowledge of a word that implies its definition as well as its fitness into the world. Hence words are imperative nuts and bolts of social needs. Human life relies on the use of words. Words are necessary for self expression. With the help of words man can gather considerable treasure of knowledge.
Cummins (1999) has stated four distinct forms of vocabulary i.e. reading vocabulary, listening vocabulary, writing vocabulary, and speaking vocabulary. Reading vocabulary includes all the words a person is able to know while reading any text. Listening vocabulary is vocabulary that an individual is able to understand while listening to speech. Writing vocabulary encompasses the words a person makes use of in writing while speaking vocabulary consists of words which an individual uses in speech (Cited in Herrel, 2004).
Vocabulary may be defined as “the words we must know to communicate effectively: words in speaking (expressive vocabulary) and words in listening (receptive vocabulary)” (Neuman & Dwyer, 2009, p. 385). Educationists have found the value of vocabulary development for long time. In the beginning of 20th century, John Dewey (1910) affirmed that vocabulary is the most significant in view of fact that a word is a means for thinking regarding the meanings that it expresses. From that time, there has remained an “ebb and flow of concern for vocabulary” (Manzo, Manzo & Thomas, 2006, p. 612; Blachowicz & Fisher, 2000). Vocabulary learning is a central goal of teaching for teachers in all subjects at early grades of schools (Harmon, Wood & Kiser, 2009). Latest research, nevertheless, shows that vocabulary teaching may be problematic because a lot of teachers are not “confident about best practice in vocabulary instruction and at times don’t know where to begin to form an instructional emphasis on word learning” (Berne & Blachowicz, 2008, p. 315).
Seashore (1947) investigated children’s vocabularies, which provides useful information about vocabulary growth during early school years. He viewed that vocabulary could be secured by giving the children an opportunity to display all they have learned from their experiences. For this purpose, a test was prepared and administered among children with age ranging from four to ten. Based on the results of this test, it was concluded that a learner at age 4, may have the vocabulary size of 5,600 basic words. It could be 9,600 basic words, 14,700 basic words, 21,200 basic words, 26,300 basic words and 34,300 basic words for the learners of age 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and10 years respectively.
Children learn vocabulary at remarkable pace. In early childhood, young children gain knowledge of vocabulary at the speed of almost 2,000 to 4,000 new words annually (Brabham ; Villaume, 2002; Nagy, Anderson ; Herman, 1987), or more or less seven words in a day (Anderson ; Nagy, 1991; Beck ; McKeown, 1991). Wonderfully, a person learns new vocabulary at this speed “without conspicuous effort or organized instruction and without any forgetting” (Smith, 1998, p. 14). Ruddell and Shearer (2002) projected that children would come across more than 100,000 words, in school while reading. Graves (2000) thought that a student’s vocabulary might be enlarged by 3,000 to 5,000 words per annum by reading.
According to Nagy and Anderson (1984), a large vocabulary is must for progress in school. As learners shift from lower class to upper, learning becomes more complicated. Majority of the researchers consider that young children unsurprisingly add up between 2,000 to 3,000 new words every year; however by fifth class they come upon 10,000 new words in their reading alone. Biemiller (2005) thinks that a child can develop some 6,000 words by the end of 2nd class at primary level. These vocabulary sizes are claimed for first language learners, and it is not justified to expect the same vocabulary from second language learners because L2 learning is entirely different from L1. Research shows that a minimum of 10,000 words vocabulary is required for L2 readers to understand an academic text without fluent reading (Schmitt, 2000). However, for being a fluent reader, L2 learners at secondary school level also need 40,000 words as claimed by Stahl (2005) for L1 learners of this stage. As L2 learners have to accomplish their vocabulary needs beyond academic requirements, Grabe (2009) suggests for L2 learners to learn 2,000 words annually i.e. 50 words per week for 40 weeks per year. The retention of this size of vocabulary is possible only through intensive learning program.
In Pakistan, English language occupies a very important position. It possesses the status of official language, medium of instruction at higher education level and the language for competitive examinations for civil services at national level in the country. However, the students at elementary and secondary school level are lagging behind in language competencies especially in English. These deficiencies are usually rooted in weak vocabulary growth, and Lewis (2000) has rightly stressed “the single most important task facing language learners is acquiring a sufficient large vocabulary” (p. 8).With reference to Pakistan, various text-books as well instructional techniques are being used in public and private sectors; hence students come with different level of language skills from both sectors. Consequently learners have to face inequalities at different stages of their career. In order to take research based remedial measures for improving this vital aspect of language learners, it is essential to investigate the focus of curriculum and instruction on providing opportunities to learners to develop a suitable size of vocabulary. With this intent, a study was conducted to explore the specification for vocabulary development in curriculum and instructions in grades one to five.
The objectives of the study were: i) to evaluate English specification of vocabulary development in text books in public private sector at primary level; ii) to investigate the techniques used by teachers for vocabulary development at primary level; iii) to compare the specification of vocabulary development in public and private sector at primary level; and iv) to find the views of teachers regarding their belief, and problems about vocabulary development at primary level.