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Course overview

The Syllabus for classes at the Elementary Level, NCERT 2005, states that “It should be the effort of the Indian educational system to reach English to every Indian child and to ensure that she/he gains a sufficiently high level of proficiency in it and not suffer discrimination for lack of it.

All of us agree with this. At the same time nobody believes this should be achieved at the cost of the mother tongue or local language. This fact has also been amply emphasized by NCERT while speaking about the objectives of language learning – “One of the major objectives of language teaching is to equip learners with the ability to read and write with understanding and to make them autonomous learners. Our effort is to sustain and enhance the degree of bilingualism and metalinguistic awareness that children have.

Simply stated, no matter what language children study, they should acquire the ability to

  1. Read and understand (comprehend)
  2. Write or speak to express themselves

When it comes to Learning English, we note that children, in their first year of schooling are,

  1. as comfortable with English as their mother-tongue (This can be the case in some urban schools and perhaps with some children);
  2. know some English (words and structures) but are not as comfortable with it as with their mother-tongue;
  3. know only those words that have got into their mother-tongue like “phone” or “time”.

We can expect any starting class (pre-school or Class 1) to have a mix of children belonging to the three categories mentioned above. In a given school, it is also possible to assume that most children belong to one of the three categories. For example category 3 children will predominate in rural schools.
Nevertheless, a teacher should hope to cater to all children and plan to bring all of them to a certain level in a fixed time span.

We hope this course will help teachers decide on the strategies that can be employed to cater to each category of children


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