English language training is poor in public schools’

  • 675
  • 0

The Improving the National Education System: English Language Teaching in Secondary School Conference was attended by English language teachers from Ulaanbaatar schools and related officials at the State Palace on September 23.

At the beginning of the conference, lawmaker Ts.Munkhtsetseg gave an opening speech and highlighted that improving Mongolia's national education system is one of the most important issues for the new Parliament.

“According to the general entrance exam score in 2020, students in public secondary schools scored three times lower in English language than those of private schools. Other subjects have a small difference in scores. There is no equal access to English language training. The quality of English language training in public schools is poor,” she noted.

“From 2021, Mongolia introduce the international PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) certification exam. In addition to PISA, all public and private schools need to be evaluated for the quality of their education.”

“In Mongolia, the age of learning a foreign language is relatively reasonable, but some researchers believe that such classes come too late in the curriculum. According to international practices, students usually begin learning foreign languages in 3rd grade, while Mongolian schools start teaching foreign languages at the age of 10. According to a survey from parents and teachers, 63 percent of parents believe foreign languages should be taught earlier. There are also suggestions that teacher training need to improve,” she highlighted.

During the conference, English teacher of Shine Uye School Ch.Narangerel made a presentation on the topic “Current situation and challenges of English teachers”.

“I have basically described the challenges facing English teachers in four areas. This is the workload, preparation for the second lesson, the learning environment, and teacher development. If we look at the teaching hours of teachers, we spend an average of 4.8 to 5.4 hours a day teaching. The teacher then fills out the journal. It takes at least 30 minutes every day, but in some cases it can take hours. Preparations for the lesson begins with the printing of test copies and presentation materials. It takes two to three hours to get the finished material and prepare it. Teachers spend a lot of time on many of these tasks,” she noted during her presentation.

English teacher of the Mongolian State University of Education O.Myagmarsuren said, “In Mongolia, we are studying English as a foreign language, but it is still unclear what policy is pursued in the legal documents and curricula. In Mongolia, the position of English language is higher than other foreign languages ​​and a lot of money has been spent on its dissemination. Most of these funds will be used for English language training, the learning environment, and the training of teaching staff. However, it is noteworthy that most of the top 10 schools in the country in terms of general entrance examination scores are private.”

“Although the cost of English language training is relatively high, the results have been poor due to a lack of policy oversight and accountability. English language proficiency is assessed according to international standards, such as primary A1, A2, intermediate B1, B2, advanced C1, C2. While the 12th grade curriculum is planned to be A2 and B1, the English language proficiency score for university entrants is declining every year. For example, in the 2017-2018 academic year, less than 15 percent of the more than 3,000 entrants passed B1 or intermediate level. But if 60 percent of 40 students have reached B1 level, the teacher is considered to have worked effectively.”

English teacher of School No. 6 of Sukhbaatar District N.Khoovon said, “The learning environment is inadequate. Teachers are working with too much load. Second, there is no possibility of review time because of the two shifts. It is impossible for a teacher to develop in the workplace. School managers do not understand this need to find opportunities for self-development.

“And there is no time for students to study. In particular, the teacher who leads the class does not have any time to spend in class. Students are required to have mastered English by the time they graduate 12th grade to take the IELTS and TOEFL tests. However, there are no standardized tests for these tests in high school textbooks.”

English teacher of School No. 14 of Bayanzurkh District N.Mungunshagai said, “The school is inherently busy. There is no possibility of repetition. There are not enough classrooms. In terms of teacher development, teachers have the potential to develop independently, especially English teachers. From personal experience, there is a scholarship in the United States. This type of training is available online.”

“The most important thing is that the nice program and reforms we are talking about here are stuck in the 12A class of School No. 14. With 30 children in the class, the teacher can't work with each student. This is the main problem. Instead, teacher development depends on individual attitude.”

Lawmaker Ch.Undram noted, “I would like to address the Head of the General Education Department of the Ministry of Education and Science T.Nyam-Ochir. As a result of your work, public schools have three times lower scores than private schools in the English language general entrance exam in 2020. Why is it low? The general entrance exam does not assess English writing, speaking, or listening skills. If you evaluate it, it will go down even more. Teachers are under a lot of pressure and can't develop themselves. You must consider these.”

Enkhnaranjav Tumurbaatar