English walks the talk in Gujarat’s schools,past Macaulay

Students will now learn how to write a bio-data,create an email account,key in text messages on mobile phones and read newspapers in schools and much more before they learn to recite Wordsworth’s The Daffodils.

Written by RituSharma | Ahmedabad | Published: July 27, 2012 4:15:24 am

Students will now learn how to write a bio-data,create an email account,key in text messages on mobile phones and read newspapers in schools and much more before they learn to recite Wordsworth’s The Daffodils.

Rejecting the Macaulay way of learning English,Gujarat Council for Educational Research and Training (GCERT) has revised Classes V-VIII textbooks that teach spoken and communicative English before teaching writing techniques.

The new text books for Class VIII,for instance,have exercises on comparing mobile phone models,creating email accounts,filling in a voter identity card,talking to neighbours and conversing with friends as part of its English syllabus.

In schools across Gujarat,learning English is compulsory Class V onwards. The new system,tested on some 500 schools for a year under the Right to Education (RTE) guidelines,does away with learning basics of grammar like verbs,nouns,gender and subject-predicate. The emphasis is more on everyday situations. So every English word lists the Gujarati way of writing it and is also translated to help one know the meaning and learn pronunciation. The new syllabus will be implemented in over 40,000 government-run and government-aided schools in the state.

Unlike the stress on alphabets and age-old rhymes,English language teaching now focusses on tools of communication and gadgets. So there are exercises like “List out the gadgets in your home” (Class VII) and so on.

“The changes have been incorporated to make the content interesting and practical and which the students can relate to. In this manner,it is far easier to teach them English as a child understands what he sees and uses in a daily life. More than writing it correctly,it is important to understand what he is being taught,” said former adviser to Ministry of Human Resource and Development Subir Shukla,who was brought in by the state government to suggest and incorporate changes in the curriculum,particularly in English subject.

Earlier,students were taught content that was outdated and impractical.

Experts realised that children lost interest in the subject because of this. The new curriculum for English has been diligently revised and framed by a panel of more than 250 experts shortlisted from across the state.

“A child should know how to read a newspaper,advertisement,fill an application form for admission in a school or college or even electoral roll. Though the prevalence of Gujarati is widespread and deep-rooted,we are hoping to make students adopt and use English comfortably and conveniently,” said Haresh Chaudhary,curriculum co-ordinator and teacher trainer at Gujarat Council of Educational Research and Training (GCERT).

Shukla said the curriculum has been framed keeping in mind the holistic development of a child. “Learning through exploration,practical exposure and interesting content is aimed at removing fear for the language among students. The main idea was to remove the general notion among children as well as their parents about their inability to grasp and use English,” he added.

Sample exercises

Collect information about your favourite mobile phone and list out features that you want factored in the use of social networking sites and email

Simulate elections for class representative with candidate symbols like television,mobile phone

Collect film songs based on patriotic theme and the ones that describe India. Do you agree with what is said in them?

Mobile manners and etiquette tips

Avoid talking about personal topics when other people can hear you. Maintain a distance of at least 10 feet from the nearest person when talking on your cellphone. Phone should be switched off or put to silent mode during a job interview,funeral,wedding or any other setting where a quiet atmosphere is needed.

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