The general and arrive at the analyzing level

The activities and tasks included in the material for teaching English to the undergraduate learners in AMU need to be appreciated as most of the time they involve learners actively in the learning process, particularly in the units containing reading strategies. Activity 1.3 on page 2 of Book-I is a typical example of this characteristic as it pushes the learners to read and take in the idea of the text in general and arrive at the analyzing level of cognitive domain in search for the answer. The activity not only gives the learners precise and clear instructions; it also provides a model on how the learners are supposed to perform in the next exercise. Similarly, before asking the learners to read and understand the reading passages, the materials offer pre-reading questions to actuate the schemata and get learners in the mood of learning by finding answers.

However, the activities do not enable learners to deal with the evaluation and creative exercises in Book-I. The Book-II exercises although allow the learners create, the creation is on account of existing reports and facts. Because of this, critical thinking among students is not engaged well which leaves them with half-accomplished objectives. Apart from the writing skills’ unit, there are not many instances in the material where given tasks and activities encourage higher order thinking. It is also sad to realize that none of the tasks or activities in the material gives exposure and practice in integrated skills. Usually, the focus is on the reading and writing skills, while creating the material. There is no unit in the present English language teaching material that has been dedicated to develop listening skills or more so in giving practice for the same. Oral communication unit however, has been assigned its place in the material; in Book-I, it is in the form of a reading conversation in which the learners are asked to read the sample conversations and answer the questions that follow. In all the seven situational conversations, not even a single activity that asks the learners to produce their own set of dialogues on the similar situation or pattern, neither are they told to listen to the recorded ones. Alternatively, in Book-II, learners are introduced with samples of ‘argumentative discussion’ and ‘expressing points of view’, and they are advised to use similar structures in generating group discussions and debates. This give them an opportunity to produce a new utterance on the basis of their comprehension.

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There are hardly few exercises in between the units in which authentic language structure used in real-life is tested. Such activities are reinforced by a preceding or following description of the rules that apply. While communicative approach to language teaching supports the exclusion of any kind of grammatical and structural description of language to promote natural acquisition, the more recent theory of eclectic approach advocates using a mixture of approaches that can help to yield the effective result. It is also thought that learners, especially adult learners, want logical explanation of what they learn. If they are told what common structures of language are useful in carrying out the necessary function, they learn the structure relatively easily, and they are more contented with the learning. Thus, activities such as activity 4.1.4 on page number 77 in Book-I, testing the subject-verb agreement, ‘forming negative sentences’ on page 91, ‘making tag questions’ on page 117 and some others would have been more productive if preceded with a logical explanation of the structure that goes into formulating such responses. In the same way, questions 1,2 and 3 on page 24 of Book-II involves very technical aspects of the language which could have an appropriate explanation of such graphemes instead of random testing question. It would have served the goal of making learners practice something which has been taught as opposed to testing what learners might not be familiar with. 

4.4.8. Overall Framework

The overall framework of the Compulsory English material is out of date and complicated to some degree. There are some examples that are given in the text that assist the learners in comprehending the context, only few of them are based on the cultural background of its users i.e. undergraduate learners in AMU and talk about some unknown context altogether which is hard to relate with. In contrast to the relevant examples, Compulsory English material is stock with enormous activities to involve the learners in the learning, which is highly praiseworthy; they lag behind when it comes to giving feedback for the activities and help learners in self-evaluation. The exercises do engage learners in continuous test, but are not supported by any answer key for self-check. It creates a gap in learning. A sample to it would be the brain-storming questions on page number 41 of Book-II. These questions not only activate schema; rather, they carry the essence of the features of the topic being taught. Such questions should be accompanied with answers to let the learners assess what they lack in knowledge.  Self-evaluation is not only a way of checking and rectifying one’s mistakes, it encourages positive learning. Learners are entitled to know the correct answers to the questions they have attempted, and simultaneously, learn while they know their mistakes.

The existing material also does not offer revision opportunities for already learned language items. Activities do not refer back to the ones taught before, thereby not relating the two; thus, they do not provide any revision at any level. In regard to different needs of learners, the activities in the material are manifold and tend to consider different needs of different learners like descriptive writing, pronunciation and accent practice, reading practice and more. However, there are still some needs that could not be satisfied. Some learners want the linguistic explanation of the grammar items they learn during their study, others learn through visual inputs and kinesthetics to comprehend. The material, built on a very conventional framework, if revised competently can cater to diverse needs and yield productive results from the very productive course.