Huddled in a room, primary schoolchildren from Udavum Karangal Children’s Home were watching a picture projected on a screen. A grey-haired man, took small steps between a screen and a white board, at times stooping to talk to children sitting on the floor.
He conversed with the students in English asking them to identify objects in the picture and to frame a sentence using descriptive words.
K.N. Anandan of Telangana Residential Educational Institutions Society (TREIS) had come down to Puducherry to conduct the four-day ‘Creative English Workshop’ organised by Azim Premji Foundation for government school teachers in Puducherry.
He demonstrated a new pedagogy, completely different from the current practice in schools, of teaching English language for primary schoolchildren. “Children here are not used to writing of their own in English language. This workshop will teach them to produce different discourses which are anything above a sentence like story or poem,” he said.
Stating that the language does not exist in isolated works or sentences, he says that language exists in the form of discourses. “We should teach language only through that form; this should be done through talks and connected speech. The fear of learning English continues because of the methodology in which the language is taught in schools,” he said.
“Every student should be allowed to think and instead of reproducing by memorising, they should be encouraged to produce language,” he said.
Thamari Selvam of Azim Premji Foundation underlined that it was a small step towards changing the methodology of teaching languages in Puducherry. They are planning to take it at a larger level.
Dr. Anandan has been working in the area of English-language education in India for nearly two decades. After completing his PhD in CIEFL, Hyderabad (now EFLU), he developed a number of language teaching-learning programmes such as Second Language Acquisition Program and Rapid Acquisition of Competence in English.
Following his work with the A.P Residential Educational Institutions Society (APREIS) on a ‘Special Package for Acquiring Competence in English’ and helping in the reform of text books, he is now changing the curriculum in Telangana.