Voluntary English Teaching at a local school: India Literacy Project

Thanks to a friend, who introduced me to this person who’s coordinating the India Literacy Project in Hyderabad, from tomorrow I will be teaching a couple of hours of English at a local school every week.

Frankly, eternal pessimist that I am, when I went to check out one of the schools under the ILP a few days back, I was very sceptical. Then I sat in this class. There were  about 40 students dressed in neat but faded school uniforms with their school bags in front of them, seated cross-legged on the floor. The teacher has been working with the kids for 3 years. 3 years – I thought, thats a long time, a lot of commitment. The students were so eager to learn from her, it was quite amazing. And she both firm and kind at the same time. I was such a pleasure to watch her – she was teaching in the phonetic style, and the students were picking up the stuff like sponge.

She later went to teach the 5th standard students. She’d given them comprehension and composition to do – stuff like writing a para about a picture, answering questions from a para – and they had done quite well. Much better than the primary school in Guwahati near my house, where my Aunt teaches. Believe me, it does make a difference, quite a huge one. But as with any other effort, it needs long term commitment.

So this lady pretty much inspired me without knowing it. And I am looking forward to tomorrow, when I will start my first class. Hopefully, I will be able to stay as committed as she is.

There are of course debates galore about this, as with every other issue. So the debate here is – what about the school teachers? Aren’t they supposed to be doing this job? I don’t know about that ( though the ILP guy tells me that most schools do not have good teachers, or even any teacher for English, an essential life-skill today), but I do know that most students pass out without a working knowledge of English.

So there is some work to be done there. And two hours a week is not a lot.

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7 thoughts on “Voluntary English Teaching at a local school: India Literacy Project

  1. blinkandmiss March 24, 2010 / 9:14 pm

    But 2 hrs/week is a start and everything has to start somewhere. Hope this enriches you just as much as the kids.

  2. Aarthi March 24, 2010 / 10:10 pm

    hey this is so cool.
    I have been teaching English here in the US for the last coupleof months on a one-on-one basis but to Adults and it very rewarding. Goodluck to you

  3. kopili March 25, 2010 / 12:13 pm

    @blinkandmiss and aarthi: Thanks – I am doing my first rapport building session with a class of 36 students from the 2nd standard, none of whom speak English. And I don’t speak Telugu. So we are going to start with Rhymes and lots of action 🙂

    @aarthi: Do write more about your experiences – what worked and what didn’t. would love to hear.

    • Aarthi March 28, 2010 / 6:31 am

      Actually we had a very good 3 day training. Teaching adults is different from teaching kids since adults come with a life time of experience with them. We also target specifics like for eg my student needs to be able to communicate with her doctor, set up appts etc so I am teaching her the concept of date, month, days of the week.
      but I also do things like taking her to a library/art gallery then writing a story about it in her own words.

      The one thing that will help is setting targets, long term/short term and one for each session.
      Like when I prepare for my class my last line in the prep is
      SWBAT(student will be able to ) and then the target. That helps me stay on course.
      Your first class must be done, I hope you enjoyed it!
      Keep us updated about your experience. I am so impressed with the literacy project.
      Goodluck

  4. kopili March 31, 2010 / 6:09 pm

    For everybody who is interested : first class was a lot of fun. We did intros in English , and we made a pact – I teach them English and they teach me Telugu. ALong with the intros I made them imitate and animal and shout “I am a tiger” or “I am a lion”, and act out the animal. Was a lot of fun. We did rhymes too. Thankfully there was a Telugu speaking girl with me, and Nischal, who coordinates the Hyderabad chapter of ILP.

  5. BD April 6, 2010 / 12:04 pm

    So you finally brushed up on the Wren and Martin I suggested 🙂

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