SOMALILAND: Why Not Learn English?


The answer of this question has long been considering. Finally I attained the answer although it is unacceptable to many apologists who are varied in reasoning. The English institutes are dramatically increasing and the quality of the education is deteriorating. At schools, universities, remedial classes, colleges, what I always see is their memo, beautifully elaborated on their walls, “Learn to day and lead tomorrow.” I can painstakingly say that this slogan could not and will not work until many requirements are fulfilled with the required knowledge, experience and qualifications.


Coming to the point, concise and clear, there are some reasons behind the failure of learning English language in the country, generally and Hargeisa particularly. The first reason, which I strongly believe is the approach used by the teaching staff. In Somaliland, most teachers diverted the way of teaching from the right path and swerved to the goofy way. They believe that grammar is the ultimate goal of the language and to do so they frequently teach students the so-called “Traditional Grammar.” This grammar which was utterly eradicated from the world although its terminology is left behind is what most students are engrossed with – and their teachers are giving the first priority to it. In additions, some English teachers offer classes on English courses on what is called, “New Words.” This is another point which makes the problem spread faster. Students are given lessons and examples on grammar notes. The challenging vocabularies in the lesson are named new words. Furthermore, many English teachers offer conversation lessons to students and they call this ‘Practice.’ Each student is required to perform the so-called practice. A student caught skulking from the practice will completely be fired out from the institute. The third reason which seems irritating is the direct translation made by the teachers. For example, I have come across many teachers who always teach students the sentence, “ What do you have.” From the Somali most used utterances, “ Maxaad haysaa.” Another sentence which flashes across my mind is, “ She entered my seas.” (Badahayga ayay soo gashay.) The direct translation of Somali to English is far more superior to my extent and everyone has seen or has come across the same situation. (Waa lagu salaamay; you have been greeted, Waa lagaa qaaday; it has been taken.) This is the true image of our English Learning Centres.


The answer is quite difficult but trial with evidence and experience is must. First and foremost, teaching English grammar only is completely wrong and needless. At the same time, the Traditional Grammar is not now taught in the world – only Somaliland and Ethiopia still teach. So, would you please teachers follow up the modern grammar consented by the English Language Scholars across the world!

Today, the approach of teaching English is prominent and the common way used by the world of ESL (English as a Second Language) is CLT – Communicative Language Teaching. Let me take a quick glance at CLT. In English there are two main aspects: English Microskills; in this aspect, a teacher is required to offer students grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation lessons. In the field of grammar, the teacher should teach students simple grammar, based on the modern English grammar. For instance, the teacher teaches proper nouns for students to capitalize, the two existing tenses: past and present, so that the student could improve his Sentence Structure and also the Parts of Speech. In short, an ESL teacher should teach: syntax, morphology, semantics and phonology.

Likewise, the ESL teacher should focus on the vocabulary, but the question is how – as the aforementioned? No, truly. What you as a Somali ESL teacher is required to teach students is what is called the Lexical Accuracy, LR. This is simply the appropriate use of vocabularies by the students in a variety of ways and situations. Your student should be able to communicate properly inside the class or outside the class using a range of vocabulary more accurately. For example, the words: popular, famous and celebrity all have got the same meanings but each one is appropriate to a particular person or place.

Similarly, in the field of microskills, the teachers should teach the students the correct pronunciation of the English Language. This is an important aspect that every ESL student needs to communicate more effectively. Here, most teachers and students find more difficult, but let me give them a piece of advice. Teachers should first learn the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet). As far as the teacher overcomes from this task, he will easily use the dictionary and will no longer mispronounce a single word. Students should also practise pronouncing words more accurately.

By Gulaid Mohammed Yassin(Dalha)



To be Continued….



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