Fourth Grade English Education

by R. Namjildava
Raashiin Namjildava has graduated from the Institute of Foreign Languages, the Academy of Management, the EXCEL course of English Language Institute/Mongolia, a three-month course of “Internet Searching Systems” in India, and is a candidate for a Ph.D. degree. He works at the Department of Education and Culture in Bayanhongor aimag.

    Due to our transition to Democracy, English is a very important language for educated people in Mongolia. In our country, English education now begins in the fourth grade. I would like to write about the goals and structure of fourth grade English education as well as discuss some of the problems encountered in this teaching area.
    With the constant change and development of society, especially with the increased emphasis on English, the content and style of English education must be evaluated and adapted. N. Mira, Ph.D, and other educators have researched and addressed the goal, content, method, style, and results of fourth grade English education in their studies, books, teaching, and seminars. Their knowledge has greatly influenced the development of English education and teaching in Mongolia. I decided to research and evaluate fourth grade English education in Bayanhongor aimag.

The goal of English education of fourth grade and the content  (2005-2007)
    When our country became a democracy, we needed to alter our education system. So, in the last few years many things have been done to change the educational direction, especially with improvement in teaching and methodology. One of the biggest changes is how we teach fourth grade, particularly with the addition of English to the curriculum.
    The main goal of fourth grade English class is to establish the interaction style of correct listening and speaking with others. The success of this goal depends on the ability and skill of the teacher to motivate the students in free interaction, to use English for their needs, and to exchange their opinions.
    I think that the Ministry of Education, Culture, and Science, the aimag Departments of Education and Culture, and local educational organizations have done useful work in developing content and methodology of fourth grade English teaching. They have prepared quality English language teachers and regularly raise the professional expectations by adding to English teaching duties and roles in general education in the last three years. The Department of Education and Culture and the teachers of English Language Institute/Mongolia, Peace Corps, and other organizations together help all the English language teachers to improve their methodology and teaching for all grades, including the fourth grade.

Trend and direction toward pragmatic teaching content

    A pragmatic (or practical) approach to foreign language class means to teach language interactively, according to the communicative principle of active speech, without teaching grammar explicitly. This motivates the students to express themselves in free situations, to understand others, and to exchange information. Pragmatic teaching leads to improved knowledge and ability in learners. In other words, the principles of fourth grade English language training, that we are trying to implement in Mongolia, are pragmatic.

Standard and core principles of English language class content
    Some of the teaching methods and principles that are advocated for foreign language education in Mongolia are:
  • Communicative:     The learners speak in English and communicate new, unknown information to each other in the sphere of everyday and life situations and topics.
  • Pragmatic:     The learners develop their language ability in practical and real interaction with topics connected to their life-situation.
  • Usage Principle:     The students learn vocabulary and grammar through use of the language in appropriate and natural speaking, listening, reading, and writing situations.
  • Inductive Principle:     The students learn the language from examples and situations. Parts of the language, such as grammar, aren’t separated from the rest of the language.
  • Student-Centered Teaching:     In a student centered class, the students do the majority of the talking. The lessons are designed to give every student maximum opportunity to interact with and use the language, and to make learning an enjoyable experience.
    The use of these principles helps motivate the learners to develop their language skills, evaluate themselves, and participate more actively in the lessons. English classes should be adapted for the students’ levels, interests, and desires. While there are some good English textbooks available, heavy dependence on the textbook, for class activities, is not beneficial for most students.

Problems to be solved in fourth grade English language education
    To learn more about the state of fourth grade English education in Bayanhongor, in January 2007 we conducted a survey of 200 people: teachers, parents of fourth grade students, professionals, people from the city, and people from the countryside.

1. In your opinion what is the reason for fourth grade English language education.
Choose 1-2 answers.
A. This language is going to develop the student’s knowledge of the foreign world and language-culture.        85    42.5%
B. Language will give you the opportunity to learn from others and open yourself to new things.    52    26%
C. Children like English class.    83    41.5%
D.  Mongolian people say, “If someone learns a foreign language, that person will know all things.”     78    39%
E. Do not know    4     2%
2. How do you evaluate the quality of the teaching of fourth grade English in our province? Choose one answer.
A. Very good               8    4.0%
B. Satisfactory         101    50.5%
C. Average                80    40%
D. Non satisfactory    4    2.0%
E. Do not know          7    3.5%
3. How well do the students work by themselves and together with others?  (Class social development) Choose one answer.
A. Very good                 4    2.0%
B. Satisfactory             20    10%
C. Average                 124    62%
D. Non satisfactory     43    21.5%
E. Do not know             9    4.5%
4. Ability and competence of the teachers. Choose one answer.
A. Very good               7    3.5%
B. Satisfactory             6    26.5%
C. Average               168    84%
D. Non satisfactory    10    5.0%
E. Do not know            9    4.5%
5. Do you think fourth grade English education is important or not?
A. It is really important thing to provide English education for fourth grade students
         162    81%
B. It is not good for fourth grade students to study English.    38    19%
Analysis of the survey results:
  • The quality of fourth grade English education in Bayanhongor was rated as satisfactory. This is good, but we should try to have a higher quality of English education.
  • The students’ quality of social development in their classes was rated as average. We should try to improve this by having students work together and alone in a variety of ways. Every one should pay attention to the student’s activeness, ability to work with others, and socialization.
  • Teachers’ ability and competence was rated as average. Therefore, we need to increase and develop the English teachers’ knowledge and skills. We must increase the teachers’ active and sincere participation in their own professional development.
  • The majority of people agree that English education for fourth grade students is really important. 
Improving teaching quality
    We need the united teamwork of the parents, the school, the students, and the teachers in order for each student to become an educated, skillful, self-confident, and hardworking citizen. However, the most important way to improve English education in our aimag, is to improve the quality of the teaching. Teachers should be educated in the latest teaching methods, and should create a good learning environment in their classes. Teachers must be aware of the goals for teaching English, especially for fourth grade English education.
    The results of the survey show that one of the main concerns is to improve the quality of the teaching. The results of teaching depend upon cooperation and interaction between the teacher and the students. Also the teacher’s role is very important. Here are some of the issues we should think about in the future:
  • How to have the teaching environment well-suited to the subject content and methodoloy
  • How to develop the teachers’ language and teaching abilities
  • How to encourage the teachers to be hardworking
  • How to have more positive teacher-student interaction
  • How to improve the learners’ social ability


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2.    Educational Theory and Methodology magazine 3 (2006).
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4.    English Teaching Forum. 43.1 (2005).
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7.    Forseth, Ron.  Methodology Handbook. English Language Institute: Ulaanbaatar, 1993.
8.    Ministry of Education and Science, Educology  1 (2002).
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10.    The Technology of Teaching.  Ulaanbaatar, 2002.
11.    Theory and Methodology of Education Development. 10 January 2005.
12.    Theory and Methodology of Education Development. 10 January 2006.
13.    Theory and Methodology of Education Development. 7 September 2005.

Information about the survey participants:
Education:     Elementary               18        9%
                      Secondary                152        76%
                      Higher Education      30        15%

Profession:      Teacher               40        20%
                        Other                  36         18% (doctor, engineer, accountant, businessman)
                        None                  124        62%

Age:    15-17            43        27.5%
            18-19            57        26%
            20-27            43        21.5%
            30-39            21        10.5%
            40-49            32         16.0%
            50-59            7           3.5%
            70+               2           1.0%

Gender:    Male             55        27.5%
                 Female         145        72.5%