Monday, March 12, 2012

I Teach India

Since long back I wanted to do something for society, but I could not do due to some or other obligation. Thus when I saw advertisement of Teach India in December, I was interested in opting for it. But I could not participate as my schedule did not allow it. However by end of February I saw another advertisement for Teach India in Economic Times and I decided to give my best for it.
Within a couple of days after reading the advertisement, I filled up online form. It took approximately 30 minutes to fill the form. I spent most of the time in choosing three most suitable locations. As I stay in Mansarovar and  work at Kanjur Marg, I wanted to choose  a location which falls on my way back to home in evening. So I chose Chembur, Sanpada and Nerul.
Two days after filling up the form, I received a call from Teach India. The person on other side asked me where I work, why I want to join Teach India, whether I will be able to give enough time for training and teaching. By the end of the call I was informed that process of selection involves two interviews and I have finished my first interview. Again in another three-four days I received a call from Teach India. I was again asked whether I will be able to attend all seven days of training. I said yes and then the person on other sided told me that I have been selected for Teach India and wished me all the best.
Training started in a couple of days.  I reached YMCA, Belapur at 8:45 AM on Friday. We were asked to reach there at 9 AM. There were around 22 people of different age group who had chosen to volunteer for Teach India.  However program started pretty late. Very soon I realized that this was an induction and not training. The volunteers from ToI (also called as consultants, they are not on roll of ToI) gave us introduction of program, its goal, organization structure, dos and don’ts , safety issues etc. Thankfully the session could end at 11 AM as mentioned in the schedule. Overall I would say induction was good one but they could have combined it with other full day training schedules.
We were supposed to spend next three weekends attending training, totally seven days. Teach India is joint endeavor of ToI and British Council. The curriculum of program is decided by British Council. Hence British Council trains the volunteers who in turn teach the students. The program is carried out at select NGOs in Mumbai. The targets of this program are youngsters in the age group of 18-32 and who have some basic knowledge of English. Teach India expects that after attending training of three months the youngsters will be able to speak English fluently with strangers. The graduates from this program get to attend a job fair organized by ToI where many retail companies recruit them.
Next two days were full of activities, fun and learning. Many a times we started our session with an activity, which involved using English and some physical work. We played quite a few games which helped us understand how we can use them effectively to teach English. A couple of times we were presented demo classes which helped us how we should teach and how we should not. We also had a micro learning session where we were divided in groups and were asked to teach a lesson to other groups. The method of teaching at Teach India heavily relies on eliciting the information from students, making them speak in English as much as possible. This can be done through methods such as showing a photograph to students and asking students to describe the photograph. Teach India aims to keep STT (student talk time) as high as possible and TTT (Teacher talk time) as low as possible. This is a major difference   when compared to traditional Indian classroom where primarily teachers talk and students just listen. In order to gauge the effectiveness of the course, the volunteers are  also expected to employ ICQ (Instruction Checking Questions) and CCQ (Context Checking Questions). ICQ check whether students have learned instructions and CCQs check whether students have understood the subject.
I have attended only two days of training as of now. But I think I will be able to contribute significantly to society through Teach India. I indeed expect that it will improve English speaking skills of the target group and will help them live their life better.