Helping students overcome fear of speaking in English

At a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has challenged the country’s education system, ‘Take Initiative and Speak’ seems to have emerged as a popular online platform for many Dhaka University (DU) students eager to learn English.

As many as 30 students from various deferments of DU participated in the training programme, conducted virtually through Zoom, from October 23 to November 30 by five trainers from home and abroad. The project was organised by the American Council for International Education as part of WYLET Alumni Grants Program, funded by the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State.

“The initiative has helped me overcome the inhibitions I had due to my inability to communicate fluently in English. Now I have gathered enough confidence to appear in any oral test,” said Bushra Jahan Oishy, a third-year student of DU English department.

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The objective of the project was not only to make the participants proficient in spoken English, but also to make them conscious of different cultures around the world through discussions on cultures, festivals and cuisines of different nations, said lead trainer of the project, Jarin Tasnim Raisa (K-L YES alumna).

“Considering the importance of communication skills in English globally and for the job market or higher studies, the initiative was taken,” said Raisa. “My objective was to make the participants speak at least for five minutes on any topic after completion of the course, but they can now speak on any topic fluently for at least 30 minutes.”

American trainers Tia Jennings and Narine Baghdasaryan (FLEX alumna) were involved in the project as resource persons, while Tahmid Azad Sohan, a fourth-year student of DU, Sadman Sakib (K-L YES alumna), a student of Dhaka Commerce College, and Programme Officer of iEARN-BD Faruque Ratul provided assistance to the initiative.