Beyond Language Barriers
A JPF project to help students and teachers in India with their English communication skills.
How did it start
Communicating your thoughts and ideas confidently and effectively is key to success in all walks of life. It is often a daunting task to achieve fluency if the language is not your first language. In the Marathi medium schools in India, it has been observed that despite the students’ intelligence and competence, they had fallen behind in English communication skills. After speaking with the teachers, we found some key problems -
Lack of opportunity to speak outside the English classroom.
Absence of an environment at home or school where English is spoken or encouraged.
A lack of space to practice, make mistakes, and learn without being judged.
What are we doing
In order to address these concerns, we decided to focus on providing an environment to students where they can interact freely in English with each other without the fear of being judged and most importantly, start enjoying the experience of communicating in English. We started conducting weekly interactive sessions with students in India. These virtual sessions include various games, reading sessions, and group activities with emphasis on spoken English, in small groups of 5 to 10 kids per group with 1 to 3 volunteers based on the group size. These activities in an informal setting have helped students build their confidence.
During the interactive sessions, students are encouraged to speak in english. We guide them through the activities and allow them to progress at their own pace which is helping them internalize the language and progress towards a state where the mind does not need to translate the sentences from Marathi to English but rather construct those sentences directly in English.
The reading sessions with captivating stories are motivating them to read English books by themselves to find out what happens next in the story, thereby helping them build vocabulary and develop familiarity with English language. In these sessions, we encourage students to read the stories out loud and explain the meaning, which helps them to build connections with the written and spoken words and it also instigates interesting discussion in English about the story thereby boosting their confidence further in spoken English.