2 Great Reasons for People in the D.R. of the Congo to Learn English
Change is something that does not come naturally to us human. It requires us to go through the process of learning. It is especially hard for us to assimilate anything that is not so much used in our environment. I grew up in the French-speaking country that is the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I have gone through the entire process of learning English not as a second, nor a third, but as a fourth one. And that is the case for most Congolese as well. Although it came quite naturally to me. Most of my classmates seemed to have been introduced to another world. It is easy to assimilate a new language when it is widely spoken in the area you live in. However, when it comes to the Congolese population English is a language that may appear impossible to learn. And that for a couple of reasons, from the lack of opportunities to practice the language, to the fear to even try learning the language for there is no need of it.
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This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Josue L. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
First, there is the fact that English is barely spoken all over the surface of the country. There are only a few businesses that may use English as their main communicative language. And even in those very rare cases, there is always a French, or Swahili, or other languages speaker to take care of the clients who do not speak English. And for that reason, English seems not too important to the Congolese people. However, for anyone who wishes to learn the English language, whatever their reasons are, they must set for themselves, or find an environment where they could use the language. Sadly, there are very few places in most cities where an English student can practice the language. And for that reason, they owe to use the opportunity to practice as much as possible within their classrooms. I have found the same issue on the other side of the world, in the Philippine islands. I have been blessed to teach English to little kids who mostly spoke Tagalog. Their environment does not offer them the opportunity to practice their English, for in most cases their parents and peers know close to no English. I have noticed that the students who tried their best to use the language in class, where slowly, but surely mastering the language. Their grammar, vocabulary, and even pronunciation was constantly improving.
Secondly, There are many reasons why one would like to learn English. It could be for a new job or a promotion, but in most cases, it is to travel. Most Congolese are born in circumstances where they can barely dream of traveling and exploring the world. Their daily focus is to find food to put on the table, so the luxury of travels is something that is, simply put, unaffordable. And when you cannot afford such luxury, it may seem unnecessary to learn the language. That leave most students with no motivation to learn it. As I previously said, English is barely spoken in the D.R. Congo. On the other hand, there are also people who can afford such privileges, but still, there is a lack of motivation to learn the language. I have been in this circumstance, and one thing that helped me find the necessary motivation was the desire to be able to find my own way around the globe. And to do so I knew I had to learn English. But I went to my English classes because I knew why I was there. Most teachers do not seem to care much about the reasons why their students are there. I believe that it is important for a teacher to help his or her students to find their "Why". Teachers can do so by giving them examples or putting them in scenarios where English could be useful to them.
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There are much more problems for my fellow Congolese to learn the language, but I chose those two for they are the ones that could have made me question my desire to learn the language, also because, as I now aspire to become an English teacher, they would be a problem that I would most likely encounter in my students. I may be able to help them out for I have been in there shoes once. Although learning is a long and hard process, the fruits it bears are rewards greater than the pain that comes with learning.
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