Innovating classroom techniques to impart skills in Spoken English at elementary school level

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This paper aims to tackle pedagogical inertia and free the teaching staff from the attitude of routines and make them use innovative classroom techniques at the elementary level.

Let there not be an emphasis on sentence writing

Writing of sentences, though euphemistically called simple sentences, from standard II itself is rather premature for a child of just six years. Writing of sentences in a sentence form is to bring in grammar through the back door. For a child with its mind only marginally developed nothing could be more frightening than instructing him in subtleties and nuances of grammar. It would, surely, scare away the child from the classroom and effectively kill his aptitude for learning English, with all its complexities and peculiarities.

Spoken English first Written next

Another point, which would bear repetition, is that the focus all along should be on fluency and not accuracy. As the child grows up learning English right from day one, he picks up through an unconscious process an acceptable form of English when he learns it from the lips of the teacher who has been professionally trained.

Let there not be an emphasis on grammar items

If grammar with its components such as adjectives, pronouns, and present continuous tense is to be drummed into his ears, the child will surely find learning of English a far off dream. Knowledge of grammar will come on its own, when the teacher handles the class in a competent manner. Grammar is present in the very atmosphere of the classroom and the child is allowed to breathe and enjoy the air of grammar without any inhibition.

Teaching of Rhymes

The content for the teaching of rhymes should be substantially increased. No doubt, the child will begin it in standard I and continue it in standard II but at both the stages, the teaching should be taken up in an intensive manner and not dealt with in a perfunctory manner. The children if they have to develop love for rhymes should be told how to sing the rhymes in a conventional musical manner. As it is, the child is just taught to repeat it as though it were a “vaipaadu” (Multiplication table). Such a process deprives learning of rhymes of life and animation.

In-service training for the teachers

It would be strange but it is true that we have to ask the teacher “Teacher! Teach yourself!” Technically, and in principle only such teachers who have undergone proper vigorous training in the in-service training could be relied upon to attain a level of professionalism in the handling of English teaching from standard I itself.

The main handicap comes in the form of flawed pronunciation, accent and intonation when we speak English. It is a common experience to find teachers pronouncing even Tamil words in a ‘slangish’ way. When we undertake to introduce teaching of English from standard I itself in an ambitious way, no loopholes should be left in the planning and implementation. When the child is instructed to speak English in an acceptable way half the battle is over. It is speaking which has to be taken in hand first. Writing will take care of itself.

Another salient feature of this approach is that the novice child sheds any sense of defeatism in him and builds up a requisite level of confidence and hope that he has been well put by the teacher on the road to the mastery of English language. As it were, the child develops love, pride and passion in the possession of communication skills.

The keynotes of the in-service training should include such aspects as:

  • Doing the rhymes in time honoured fashion as in English country.
  • Attaining competency in bringing the child up in communicative skills (Spoken English).
  • It is a fact not known to many that secrecy of mastering English language lies in mastering prepositions. The
  • scope af the knowledge of prepositions and its practical use have not been fully realized by many of the teachers themselves. It is accepted by all that short sentences are more vigorous and forceful than long sentences. A judicious and apt use of prepositions imparts glow and strength to the style of a speaker or writer.
  • Another allied factor is the role, which idioms and proverbs play in the force of English style. But a note of caution has to be sounded here. Overuse of idioms could be cloying like pickles. So, everything in right
  • proportion. The idioms should be there but they should not be over used.
  • In the in-service training, the teacher must learn the newer techniques of teaching the child in the writing of
  • alphabet, instead of doing it in the formal and heavy manner. The child should be taught the use of strokes and curves and loops. The initial step should be to tell the child to just draw lines, curves etc. By this way all the horrors of making the child learn the alphabet are done away with. The child learns it in a playful way.

Teaching English daily and not for 3 days a week

The new scheme would end as a still–born child if teaching of English were to be done on LOE (Life Oriented Education) basis. Teaching and learning could succeed only when it is carried on from day to day. This means that regular fixed hours should be allotted on a daily basis. If the above ponts are taken into consideration, classroom teaching would enhance its usefulness.

 

* Article first published in FORTELL newsletter, issue no. 15

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