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Thursday, 25 May 2017

Problems of Communication in English language in Sudan (2-2)

The deterioration of English language quality dates back to the end of the sixties

when the government of the day opted for a biased educational reform programme which was driven by mere political and ideological considerations. The panarabism was the fashion of the day. It wanted to paint every aspect of life in its chosen colours. The novice May regime which toppled a democratically- elected government was struggling for a popular and regional legitimacy. It had hastily picked up the offer without questioning it's repercussions and ramifications. The first causality of the abrupt and impetuous change was the English language. The hitherto successful educational ladder was miserably tampered with .The change was haphazard .It lacked graduation. The 4-4-4- years system was made 6-3-3-system .The latter adapted the Arabic language as the sole medium of instruction in secondary schools in place of English. All subjects were used to be taught in English except Arabic language and religious studies. Although educational theories had preferred teaching people in their mother’s tongue language the importance of English language can't  be ignored .English is the  Latin of today. The most commonly used and spoken language of these times. The politicking in languages as leverage for cultural and political gains must be stopped. People in Muslim world must treat the supremacy of English such as the  issue of the khalifate which stipulates the obedience and paying  allegiance (Bayaa) to  the one  who dominates  even by  brute force . This doesn't necessarily mean shelving our highly valued Arabic language. No one disputes the fact that Arabic language  will remain forever solely for the fact almighty God has chosen it to deliver his word to mankind through the holy Quran in spite of some  linguistic predictions that most of the today's world languages will vanish in the face of  the ever-spreading English language in the coming two decades. Sudan senior school certificate used to be in equal footing with A level certificate locally called London certificate. Khartoum university used to jostle for top positions in the world's universities rankings and indices .The  steady decline and deterioration of English language  quality began in earnest from that dark epoch of our history till it climaxed into today's free fall .This deplorable fact can be proven by the newly introduced criteria of assessing English language skills through Toefel  (test of English as a foreign language ) and Ielts (international English language testing system) .Sudanese postgraduate students are strictly required to pass one of these tests if they wish to further their studies in the west. But most of them fail to score the required marks in spite of being the cream of the cream of the Sudanese academics. The students of medicine and engineering faculties are the brilliant and the brightest of their peers. They got into university by virtue of obtaining the highest ratio success (above 90%) yet their score in the test remains poor and pitiful. From my personal experience the ideal way to upgrade your communication skill in English is through frequent practice with native speakers favourably the British because they are the owners of the language and their English is still the least changed and classical in terms of semantics and phonetics .Other brands of English are being continually diluted by intrusion of local cultural lexicons and jargon. I was amazed some years ago by the fluency of a female relative in English. She went to school in Uganda due to being a refugee and a victim of the then escalating civil war in south Sudan. I used to tell her (you speak English like the broadcast journalists of BBC focus on Africa). Her fluency in English is really impeccable and deserved to be emulated. I expressed my deep admiration and appreciation for her enviable style, I asked her for reasons behind this excellence. She lectured me about the merits of Uganda’s unique educational system. Kids go to school at a relatively younger age, mostly at five .They were housed in confined remote boarding schools where English is the linguafranca and medium of instruction. Their whole life is run through English. This system is tantamount to learning by rot .It is rigorous and enforced by caning for the noncompliant ones. I was one of the punctual observant of (ZIKIR )in Sheikh Hamadnil tomb which continues to be a  heavily  frequented  area. The ZIKIR is  conducted every  Friday evening since time immemorial. This place is a tourist attraction for Sudan's capital visitors. The site is clearly marked in  travel and tour guides' maps. Foreigners are driven by the exotic dancing and the unique Sufi orders'  followers costumes  whom they call dancing dervishes .A dervish is a derogatory term coined by the British colonizers for the Mahdi followers ( the Ansars ) .The whole matter in this episode of Shaikh Hamadnil  boils down to the fact that those excited tourists and fun seekers needed a tour guide to unlock the Sufi charms and mysteries. We were   eager to provide the service for free .It was a win win game for both parties. We wanted to practice our halting  English and the tourists wanted information and guidance .It had been beneficial for both .at the end of  this piece of  writing I would like to express my joy at  the newly opened American chatting clubs where people can improve their communication skills in English because the initiators are native speakers . The last successful experience was the aborted UNISCO clubs (step by step) which benefited many Sudanese learners but unfortunately the activity came to a grinding halt without clear reasons.