Studying in the Department of English at Dhaka University: An Analysis of Learners’ Motivations, Expectations and Reality

Motiur Rahman


The yearly enrollment of freshmen in universities at undergraduate level in the English Department at Dhaka University requires attention for manifold reasons. This transition from the previous institution involves not only an admixture of expectations and shock on the learners’ part due to the exposure to an entirely new academic system but also the very idea of university admission to one particular department (i.e. English with two possible options of majoring in language or literature later in their MA years) comes with its own complex realities. In order to seek a possible answer to this multifaceted issue in relation to the framework of tertiary education in a Bangladeshi context, it is of absolute necessity to examine if gaps exist between what the students of this department from different localities expect and what they face in reality. In order to identify any possible gaps as such, this study surveys the opinions of seventy first-year students from the Department of English, University of Dhaka followed by a focus group discussion of ten final year students. The survey examines their expectations and motivations they had prior to their admission into the department, and also presents their reflection on the changes and congruities in those opinions. The questions include issues of motivation, attitudes, in-class tasks, distribution of courses, contribution of teachers, classroom materials, and the overall learning environment in the department. The findings of the study show a number of possible causes of gaps between student expectations and reality. In order to ensure a smooth transition of the students from higher secondary to tertiary level, these gaps needs to be addressed.


Student transition, learner motivation, ELT practices, public universities

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