Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Reading Habits of the Students with Bengali Medium Background at the English Medium Private Universities in Bangladesh

Academic journal article Higher Education Studies

Reading Habits of the Students with Bengali Medium Background at the English Medium Private Universities in Bangladesh

Article excerpt

Abstract

This paper investigates into the reading habits of the English medium private university students with Bengali medium background. It analyses the realities in the context, which are both nurturing the old and shaping new reading habits of the students. The data gathered by means of interview schedule have been analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. The data shows that our students' reading habits - avoiding text books, memorizing readymade things for exam purposes, very little reading in not only English but Bengali as well - do not change remarkably during their tertiary level of study at the private universities. Rather they are further solidified and nurtured by the teachers' supply of lecture notes, an acute lack of motivation for reading the study materials in English, and the negative backwash of the exam system. These causes of the undesirable reading habits can be removed only if all the teachers dealing with the students come forward and work together with the English teachers for a long period of time to achieve the aims.

Keywords: Reading habits, English, Bengali, Bangladesh, Private university

1. Introduction

The context of private universities in Bangladesh is different from that of the public ones in a number of ways. Some of the more relevant points of difference are:

a) The medium of instruction at all the private universities is solely English.

b) Most of their students are from Bengali medium schools and colleges and consequently not very good at English.

c) Lecturing on a particular course, setting of the questions, and evaluation of the scripts are all in the hand of one particular teacher.

d) They are well equipped with modern facilities like OHPs, computers with Internet connection, multimedia, etc.

With these special features, the private universities are expected to bring about a big positive change in the reading habits of the students. But the expectation is not being fulfilled for four reasons. Firstly, the English foundation courses are few in number. Secondly, the students are not motivated to read their books. Thirdly, the teachers do not mind language deficiency. And finally, they find it easy to pass the exams. The context can be free from these barriers only if the English teachers' work is shared by all the other course teachers, and if forming good reading habits is taken up as a long term goal by everybody concerned: students, teachers, and the university administration.

1.1 Literature Review

Students with Bengali medium background in our country are mostly very weak at reading English. These students have some characteristics in common. These are predictors or symptoms as well as causes of their being weak at reading in English. Quader (1999) has found out many of them. Three of them are:

a) The weak readers' input through reading is irregular in nature and insufficient in amount.

b) The weak readers do not comprehend what they read in English. In consequence, reading appears very hard and boring to them.

c) They find reading difficult also because they do not have the essential schematic knowledge.

Besides, reading becomes more difficult for them if the context contains vocabulary with a different meaning from what they already know.

Thus, Quader has found out how to identify poor readers of English but she has not pointed out why the students have these problems or how they can be solved.

Among the researchers who have found out the reasons, Jared (2008) states that family background plays an important role in determining the reading habits of the learners. Readers usually get stimulation and encouragement to read both in L1 (their first language) and L2 (the second language) from their families. A student coming from a family with no tradition of reading can hardly be expected to form good reading habits.

Secondly, a part of the reason is the schools and colleges where the students go. …

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