Teaching the English language to children in Iran’s primary schools has been banned by the country’s authorities.
Mehdi Navid-Adham, head of the state-run High Education Council, told state television on January 6 that “Teaching English in government and non-government primary schools in the official curriculum is against laws and regulations.”
Supreme leader of Iran Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also warned that studying English will pave the way for a Western cultural invasion.
Iranian school teachers shared with Sputnik their views on the prohibition.
English teacher Kiyana Mohammadniya, who graduated from Azad University in Tehran, told Sputnik she is not supportive of the ban because learning English gives children a chance to get familiar with a foreign language.
“Even current methods of language teaching are better than nothing. Simply learning a few English letters and some words is enough for the English language to stop being out of the child’s depth,” she said.
Hushang Baqalpur, a teacher of English language from Rasht, said that he was against the ban in principle, but he noted that at the moment the decision might be “appropriate” because of existing teaching problems in primary schools. He expressed hope that the education system will be revised and reformed.
“I’m against banning English-language classes, but if you look at existing teaching methods in schools, this is an appropriate decision. Maybe it will help improve the current situation [in education],” he said.
Zohreh Mohammadikhah, principal of a school in Hamadan, said that children shouldn’t just be taught foreign languages — it’s important that they are lectured on the culture of the native speakers as well.
“Speaking of teaching English: what is being ignored is the cultural factor. Teaching culture should be an integral part of English language classes. Sometimes students can’t use their store of knowledge because of the cultural differences [between the US and Iran]. For example, in America, dogs are considered to be humans’ best friends, while Muslims perceive them as dirty animals and try to avoid contact with them.”
The history of studying English in Iran dates to 1925, when the Iran-America Society in Tehran, which was later transformed into The Iran Language Institute, was established. The institute has branches in dozens of Iranian provinces and provides instruction in western and eastern languages. The new ban does not apply to the institute, as a private organization.