23 November 2008

Learning at school

Yesterday, I popped over to a government school that Asha-bangalore supports. Visiting the school is perhaps one of the nicest experiences I have had after coming back to India. Along the way there were plenty of signboards that confirmed why I think teaching English is the best service we can give our children. I passed by the "Umemployed youth chicken and egg centre" (If they were selling eggs, how are they unemployed?) and the "Hearbel Beauty Parlor". Evidently, having English signs are a must to glamourize your shop but getting the words edited before making the sign is optional. I'm sure my readers have come across many such signs in India.

The school is a cacophonous joint with children and teachers trying to get in a word edgewise. To be fair I was visiting on a Saturday when the election commission had taken up a classroom to complete their voter registration drive. So they were children, teachers and loony citizens crammed into the small school yard. Some kids were giving a test while the rest who weren't interested in filling in circles were having their notebooks corrected. My grand plan was to play a game with them that would have them interact with me in English. A 'flop show' sums up my efforts.

I divided them up into teams and asked them to pick names. Prompted by the teacher they picked names of flowers - Gulabi (rose), Sampige and tavuur (lotus). Then I asked them to think about movies they have seen and try their best to tell me its story, in English! Boy, that was a tall order. Since no one wanted to say a word in English I tried to introduce new vocabulary in the script as they were narrating the story. One team was prattling on for over 10 minutes so the rest of the crowd lost enthusiasm and soon, they were just talking amongst themselves about the movies. Then I tried to switch tracks and asked them to fill out a sheet with their info on it - team name, team members, their age etc again all in English. The smarty pants that they are, the kids simply took the sheet out to their friend who was fluent in English and had them fill it out.

I'm not bummed about the way things turned out. I just need a better game that uses their energy more creatively and yet is a good way to teach English. Suggestions, anyone?


  1. Did you try doing a web search with terms like "teaching english lesson plans".
    You will get sites like these with many ideas for games and classroom activities:

  2. Nupuria - thanks for the link. I enjoyed the lesson plans though they need to be tweaked for our classrooms. Also, one big problem is of worksheets - they are too resource intensive for us to effectively employ into a school. I'm going to share these with the teachers anyway and allow them to implement as they see fit.