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Helping teachers look at the bigger picture

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Olha Madylus
Olha Madylus

Sandhya Soman

"If you are a teacher, you have to look at the bigger picture"

CHENNAI: The grammar has not changed. But English language teachers have to keep re-inventing themselves in Indian classrooms if they have to help students realise their dreams and fulfil needs faster and better, says U.K.-based education consultant Olha Madylus.

"If you are a teacher, you have to look at the bigger picture," Ms. Madylus, who was in Chennai recently to train a group of middle school teachers, said, as she explained the need to make teachers realise what their students would want in the next 10 years.

By the bigger picture, she means not just teaching meanings of words in the glossary, but making sense of the textbook as a whole.

And eventually, building the skill of comprehension, the basis of any language study and communication.

"But we have to be practical and understand the limitations of teachers," says Ms. Madylus whose energetic presentations and programmes have covered teachers in Senegal, Yemen, Brazil teachers with classrooms, teachers without classrooms or either text books.

The syllabus, the boards and the examinations will be there.

What one has to do is work around them to exploit existing resources even those textbooks that become obsolete by the middle of the academic year these days, she notes.

Once the aim is clear, teachers can work out various coaching methods.

But for teachers to think out of the box, they should be motivated and empowered, she says.

For Sasikala Narasareddy, a teacher from a government high school in rural Karnataka, the seminar threw up a host of inexpensive ideas she says will help improve language skills of her pupils.

"We don't have electricity. But I can still do a slideshow by partly covering the drawing sheets to make my students tell me what the object is in English," she says with enthusiasm.

For K.P. Gouri, a teacher from a government-aided school in rural Palakkad in Kerala, it was all about creating her first email ID.

"Once I go there I will get connection and make use of the various websites and links that she has told us about," says a confident Gouri.

But motivation and subsequent empowerment will come only when teachers are having fun implementing the ideas, she says.

"You should have fun. Then you will remember the lessons," says Ms. Madylus.

A sure-fire lesson indeed, making it easier for teachers to pass on all that energy, passion and information to students.

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