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C.A. - China said:
Problems for learners in GeorgiaIn this article I will discuss the problems for learners in the former Soviet state, The Republic of Georgia, which I encountered while I was a teacher there. The learners of Georgia face quite a few hurdles as the country adjusts and focuses on teaching English as its main secondary language in schools. Georgian is a very old language and does not use the Latin alphabet, rather using a traditional alphabet which is not used outside of Georgia, providing an initial problem for Georgian learners before they even start. In previous years, like many former states of the USSR, Russian has been the dominant alternative language to the native language, which for Georgia is even German was more popular than English; English has only recently picked up traction in popularity, and even then is barely established in the main centres. With Russian entrenched with the older generation there has been a paradigm shift towards learning English and establishing in school curriculum, but even then there are problems as students are often over committed as some schools insist on teaching Russian with English, sometimes having one lesson follow the other. Often times, when teaching, I would see students still mixing up the alphabet with shared letters that look the same between English and Russian, but have a different sound; for instance the letter ?C? in Russian would be the English ?S?. To help assist this policy transition the Georgian Ministry of Education and Science established a program to bring in native english speakers to assist native Georgian, English teachers. The program ?Teach and Learn with Georgia (TLG) was the president?s own pet project and had the ambitious goal of trying to place one native English speaking volunteer with every public Georgian school. Volunteers would have the choice between one semester and two semester contracts. These volunteers would aim to more than replace the removed Peace Corps volunteers who were withdrawn from territories closer to conflict zones of the 2008 war. Even if you were to ignore the war, having Peace Corps volunteers leave abruptly would be a huge problem for the learning progress and there is also the logistical problem of replacing volunteers who would leave after one semester while the school year continues, meaning the new teacher, assuming there is one, would have to build a rapport with the class and the students would have to adjust to a new English teacher. A common talking point amongst volunteer teachers placed in the more remote areas was that a large number of the existing teachers from Georgia would often have a poor grasp of English. It is obvious why this would be a problem for the learners of English there as the students would, ideally, try and emulate the teacher and if the teacher speaks poorly, with many grammatical errors, then it is quite likely that a student may not know any better and assume that what the teacher was speaking was indeed a flawless representation of the English language. While I am writing anecdotally on this matter, I assume that the problem wasn?t as bad in the major centres and away from the more isolated communities. Despite the problems faced by Georgian learners of English it was clear to see that English was growing in popularity amongst the younger demographic and over time will see itself more established as English gains popularity.

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