2016 year was announced to be the year of English language in Ukraine. Schoolchildren, students and workers of different specialties trying to find ways of language learning and plunge into the English-speaking environment. Are these opportunities are real for most young people, especially for the majority of students? How is the process of learning English in schools? Let us try to analyze these issues together.
Ukraine in the world rankings
English is one of the most common languages in the world. It is used by more than 51 countries around the world and spoken by more than 1 billion people. Today the demand for learning English is growing continuously because it is the basic international language. In the words of Goethe: "As many languages you know, as many times you are a human being".
In early 2016, experts of International Education Center Education First conducted a study among seventy countries on knowledge of English as a foreign language. Sweden topped the rating. Second place in terms of language took the Dutch. According to the rating, Ukraine is among the countries with medium level of proficiency in English, precisely in 34th place, which is not that high.
English for schools! English for the masses!
Try to remember how English was taught at your school. Learning a foreign language in secondary and specialized schools should begin from the first grade. But is it really taking place? The answer could be found just by asking students from cities, towns, and villages. Students say that most of language classes begin in the third, fourth or fifth grade.
In order to calculate how many years children learn the languages at schools you do not need to have mathematical superpowers. For eleven years, in the best case, children have to learn the language. However, the results of external independent evaluation (EIE) show the opposite.
Speaking about EIE in English in 2015, only 13 people out of 72 thousand students scored maximum points. 13.3% (9.5 thousand graduates) have not passed the threshold. 2014 was even worse year, the future students have not showed the proper level of knowledge of foreign languages - only 0.11% of graduates successfully passed the test. It follows that the part of Ukrainian schoolchildren has low knowledge of English.
Unfortunately, this situation has become a trend. The problem lies in the following factors: first, the lack of sufficient resources, often the children suffer from the lack of English books in their schools. A curriculum often faces with financial difficulties, which in turn affects the quality of learning English. In particular, it concerns those students who live in small towns and villages. Second problem is the low wages for teachers, which results into ineffective productivity. Most teachers are not interested in the interactive teaching, they adhere to outdated traditional practices that inhibit speech development competence of students. Third, special schools, high schools where English is taught almost every day, are financially inaccessible to most Ukrainian families.
Dreaming is not bad
Maybe this year the trend will change dramatically and English would "go to the masses". After the presidential decree, announcing 2016 a year of English language in Ukraine, the situation will change. Schools of the all regions of the country, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, have a pool of technical equipment and textbooks. The program will encourage students to learn the language from the first grade and the salary of teachers is sufficient for a decent life. But every working man can afford to attend English courses, the price currently starts from 2 thousand UAH with an average salary 4821 UAH. And each Ukrainian will soon be able to speak English not only in everyday life but also to use the knowledge in a professional context.
This is what we and our children dream of. We used to live among our dreams. But the reality is different.
It makes remove the rose-colored glasses. It makes live on the salary, which is barely enough to pay for utilities and for essential products. It forces parents to save on everything, just to give the child an opportunity to buy the necessary things for school. Ukrainian families often say: "We would think about English classes later, when better times come".