Making the General English Paper Compulsory for A/L Students (Previously published in The Island/Sri Lanka) The Higher Education Minister’s decision to make the General English Paper compulsory from this year onwards for all A/L students seeking admission to universities should be hailed as a good initial step in the right direction, i.e., towards ensuring that all our university students whose ...

Is the Spoken English Initiative a Failure? (First published in The Island/Sri Lanka on Friday 11th March 2011) Nearly two weeks ago, I watched for myself what was being achieved in a non-urban school under the English as a Life Skill programme launched by the Presidential Task Force for English and IT. The purpose of this short write-up is to ...

Education and Teacher Dispositions (First published in The Island/Sri Lanka)Taking a fairly long walk has become an essential part of my daily routine for some time now. From the beginning I saw to it that my calf muscles start aching before I stop walking. Through experience I have determined the distance that should be covered, and the time it should ...

Mother Tongues and Multilingual Education(This appeared in The Island/Sri Lanka before)The term ‘multilingual education’ which embodies the idea of using at least three languages in education, namely, the mother tongue, a regional or national language, and an international language was adopted by the United Nations’ Educational, Social, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) at its General Conference in 1999. As one of ...

Language, Culture, and Development(First published in The Island/Sri Lanaka)Any human society can be described as a product of three interrelated, mutually dependent processes which are coterminous: language, culture, and economic activity. Social interaction motivated by our innate gregariousness as a species is at the root of these processes. Though almost certainly they had a common origin at the dawn of ...

Education for Employment(Previously published in The Island/Sri Lanka)Education is, ultimately, the process of acquiring the knowledge and the skills that are required for us to survive as a species. But we humans are too advanced and sophisticated to be satisfied with an education that is just adequate to meet this elementary need. Every human society, except for a few forest ...

Multilingualism for the New Age(Previously published in The Island) “Knowledge of more than one language points to the expansion of specific types of competence. Multilingualism appears to help people realise and expand their creative potential. In addition, thinking, learning, problem solving and communicating, all of which are transversal knowledge-steeped skills used in our daily lives, show signs of enhancement through ...

Launching into the English Medium through an Integrative Approach (Previously published in the Island newspaper, Sri Lanka)For Sri Lankans English is mainly important in the three areas of education, employment, and international communication. Here we are concerned with education. In addition to being a lingua franca in the job market and in the field of global communication, it is a ...

Jobs, Businesses, and Professions(First published in The Island/17 December 2010)“The highest reward for a person’s toil is not what they get for it, but what they become by it.” - John Ruskin (1819-1900), English writer, art critic and social reformerThe three words job, business, and profession all relate to work done in expectation of payment or income, but mean different ...

The Ten Year Master Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka(Previously published in The Island/3rd December 2010)The 10 year National Master Plan for a Trilingual Sri Lanka (2011-2020) to be launched as a presidential initiative is going to be a massive implementation-oriented language management exercise, probably the most ambitious ever of its kind. A survey carried out by an independent research ...

Technology-mediated Language Teaching(First published in The Island/Friday 26th November 2010)Any teaching-learning situation involves a dynamic interrelationship between three components: the learner, the subject, and the teacher. The role of the teacher in this relationship is to initiate and maintain effective learner engagement with the subject. Pedagogy is about how this can be done efficiently. A handy tool that modern teachers ...

Teaching Language through Literature(First published in The Island/Friday 12th November, 2010)Children love to play with language. Toddlers sometimes coin their own non-sense musical phrases and enjoy singing them repeatedly. Older children play games in which singing is an essential accompaniment to physical movements. They like to listen to stories and relate ones which they already know or which they make ...

Launching into the English Medium through an Integrative Approach (First published in The Island/Friday 5th November, 2010)For Sri Lankans English is mainly important in the three areas of education, employment, and international communication. Here we are concerned with education. In addition to being a lingua franca in the job market and in the field of global communication, it is a ...

Teachers as Nation-builders(First published in The Island/22nd Friday, October 2010)A nation comprises the people of a country, not its land, buildings, or natural features, though these may help identify a particular nation as its possessions. Nation building, therefore, means the development of the human factor along with the other resources of the country so that its people are able to ...

Letting the Genie out of the Bottle (First published in The Island/1st October 2010)Cynics might see some contradiction in the rehabilitation of English as a medium of general education, with prospects of eventually making it the universal medium of teaching in the future, in a country where sixty years of teaching it as a second language must be considered a ...

English in General Education - A Historical Perspective(First published: The Island/1st October 2010) For well over two hundred years now English has been playing a predominant role, in one form or another, in all spheres of national activity in our country such as civil administration, justice, business, industry, and education. During most of this period, the majority of the population ...

A Way out of Trouble with Grammar(First published in The Island/24th September 2010)Probably, it isn’t much of a problem to use classical grammatical labels to identify words in English sentences. But it’s a different matter when, even today, some grammarians claim, as those of the eighteenth century did, that the English sentence structure should faithfully follow the Classical Latin sentence ...

Talking about Grammar without Grumbling (First published in The Island/17th September 2010)A fairly widely held belief among learners of English as a second language is that the study of grammar is a major stumbling block to their making any headway. They seem to view grammar as esoteric and abstruse; their attitude is: ‘Why should we bother about something which only ...

Cultivation of Critical Thinking(First published in The Island/20th August 2010) Education is good just so far as it produces well-developed critical faculty . . . A teacher of any subject, who insists on accuracy and a rational control of all processes and methods, and who holds everything open to unlimited verification and revision, is cultivating that method as a habit ...

Looking forward to a Future of Prosperity(Previously published in The Island/13th August 2010)Beginning with the 1948 Independence we have had five watersheds that determined in turn the orientation of the Sri Lankan national polity over the past sixty-two years, the other four being 1956 (political empowerment of the common people), 1972 (the reinforcement of political independence through a republican constitution), ...

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