‘You have to change your accent….!’

Opinion Sunday 03/December/2023 17:46 PM
‘You have to change your accent….!’

‘Sir, is there any problem with my accent?’ Recently, a student from a known school asked me this question. Surprisingly, I had to listen to the reasons of her question or concern. After being in the UK for a couple of months, she was able to acquire British accent because of continuous interaction with her cousins and other friends. Undoubtedly, I would say that it was a natural style that she could apply in her day-today conversations. Of course, unlike the other students she used her acquired ability within the classes too without any hesitation. On the day of her presentation, as soon as she started her introduction, the teacher stopped her saying ‘you have to change your accent’. As a teacher, she should have been proud of her student who is good at applying the actual British accent. Unfortunately, instead of an appreciation, the child was humiliated horribly.

As we all know, people travel, stay, take a lot of energy and spend a huge amount of money to acquire the British pronunciation or accent. On the contrary, the teacher’s untimely or impolite remarks spoiled the normal sleep of the child. The child got humiliated and embarrassed in-front of the whole class. Naturally, the next day onwards, the child was between the devil and the deep sea. She was scared whenever she has to speak to her teacher or her friends. When the parents realized the matter, it was reported to the authority. Obviously, as a result, the teacher started ignoring the student in the class, rather all other students were given chances which affected the child psychologically.         

At this juncture, as a teacher, this incident has been an eye opener to all the teaching community. It has been understood that the classrooms are the places where the teachers strive to build or mould good citizens of the future where we teach not only a particular subject or a language. It is a fact that teachers teach heterogeneous classes in schools or colleges in which students differ in numerous aspects, such as their cognitive abilities, their classroom behaviour, and their socio-economic backgrounds.

To ensure that all individual students in these classes develop according to their potentials, teachers should meet the educational needs of each student. A student can learn many disciplines and has to act and be strong as per the classroom environment. Essentially, instructors or teachers urge students to accept problems and deal with every event that may come across in their lives. Even though they teach all these qualities, there is one feature that some teachers unwittingly implement prejudice and preferential treatment for particular students even in this 21st century.  It is customary for some teachers to show favouritism and biases at any educational institution. They have preferences for certain students and dislike others based on personal tastes or grudge, regardless of how brilliant or clever the student is.

The above described teachers have a restricted mindset that is difficult to change. The teacher may taunt the students and pass the negative comments to the students who are not good in the eyes of the teacher as the above example.

Obviously, we can say that partiality and favouritism may be old practices, but both still exist in the classrooms. Partiality almost ruins the meaning of equality in the classroom. Students who usually become partial victims have to feel the severe inequality in the classroom. Most of the time, the student gets affected by the type of treatments the teacher may use in the classrooms. If a teacher behaves positively and unbiased with each student, the students will also give positive feedback to the teacher. If the teacher continues to act unequally without motivation, students will have a negative feedback for the teacher. Students who are treated with partiality and discrimination often feel less motivated to perform any class activity. Usually, these students have to face severe stress and a depressing situation in the classrooms.

Many techniques and methods can prevent the act of being partial in the classroom. Indeed, it is ideal to be conscious of how you treat your pupils based on how you feel about it. Being a teacher you have to keep your sentiments at bay and concentrate entirely on your role as a teacher. Insulting or harassing is totally unacceptable and can lead to pupils resenting you in the classroom. It also lowers students’ self-esteem, alienates the most challenging pupils, and produces an unfriendly classroom environment. As teachers, we have to be mindful of our feelings toward all pupils and endeavor to establish rapport with each of them so that we can create a classroom community in which all kids feel equal. Eventually, let the student feel encouraged, motivated and appreciated for their efforts. Above all, I would say that a teacher should be a mentor, a guide, and a “Friend”.

* The author is a lecturer of English, Oman  College of Health Sciences