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Classroom methodology in a communicative curriculum
 

Sarika Chaudhuri

15-25 January 2001

Objective

To focus on communicative language teaching at the secondary level for teacher trainers.

Venue

Sri Ramkrishna Ashram, Nimpith, West Bengal. The workshop was held in the Krishi Vigyan Kendra (Agricultural Research Centre) of the Ashram, in a rural setting amid sylvan surroundings. Nimpith, situated in the southern part of West Bengal, serves as a gateway to the Sunderbans, the largest delta in the world and the home of the famous Royal Bengal Tigers!

Partners

West Bengal Board of Secondary Education (WBBSE) and State Council Educational Research and Training (SCERT). They sponsored the travel, food and accommodation for thrity-five participants from all over West Bengal.

Hosts

The Ramkrishna Ashram were quietly efficient, punctual and prompt with technical support, provided comfortable and warm hospitality with personalised attention and organised a memorable sightseeing trip to the islands of the Sunderbans. Resource Persons: Dr Raymond Mackay, University of Edinburgh, UK, and Professor Arpita Banerjee, Institute of English, Calcutta. Arpita Banerjee started the programme with a fractured foot and Ray Mackay without his luggage! I am extremely grateful to both of them for smiling through it all.

Participants

There were thirty-nine participants. Thirty-five of them represented all the eighteen districts of West Bengal. Four of them paid to attend – two from Rajasthan, one from Delhi and one from the newly created state of Jharkhand. One person from Bangladesh could not attend due to visa problems.

Course Structure

Each day the focus was on a particular area of language teaching. Four different perspectives were provided on each area, by exploring the following:

  • textbook
  • teaching implications
  • testing / evaluation
  • participants’ own reflection of what they have done.

The daily sessions lasted from 9am to 5pm; workshop started with an icebreaker followed by workshop objectives and expectations. The teaching modules consisted of:

  • general introduction to Communicative Language Teaching
  • teaching the Language System
  • grammar in CLT approaches
  • teaching grammar
  • teaching vocabulary
  • teaching receptive skills: reading and listening
  • teaching productive skills: speaking and writing
  • dealing with writing in the classroom: error/correction/marking
  • testing & CLT

The evenings (6.30-8.30pm) were spent viewing video on Language Teaching, activities related to Total Physical Response and miming for language building. We also covered appreciation and teaching of poems, viewing video films, camp fire and the typical Bengali past time, the ‘adda’, which is an informal and often vigorous group discussion activity on any topic under the sun!

The event was inaugurated by the Minister for School Education, government of West Bengal.

Evaluation

The resource persons were the stars of the event. The participants unanimously agreed that the Resource Persons were excellent and that the British Council should continue to organise such summer schools in India. An overwhelming number of the participants felt that the location of the venue, the food, the accommodation, the organisation of the workshop and the workshop modules were excellent. A couple of participants, though, found it a little difficult to sit through the whole day for about two weeks! On the first two days, they did check out if they could work flexi-hours, but soon realised they couldn’t. To their credit, they never complained. Suggestions for topics of future summer schools include:

a) Testing/Evaluation
b) Classroom Methodology for Teachers at the Higher Secondary Level.

Impact

  1. The participants of this workshop will be used as State-Level Resource Persons by the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and SCERT, to train other teachers in West Bengal
  2. All the participants of this workshop have expressed keen interest in being enrolled as members of ELTeCS. Though most of them don’t have e-mail facilities, they are trying to get around it by forming groups where one person has e-mail and who can then share the information with them. This will connect them to their ELT colleagues in India and abroad
  3. The involvement of the Hornby Trust, the British Council, the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, the SCERT and the Minister for School Education, has given this programme good profile and media coverage
  4. Participants who have no formal qualification in ELT have shown keen interest in joining ELT Diploma programmes run by the Institute of English in Calcutta.

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