Aarti’s & Panasha’s teaching experience at Brahmanand Vidya School

November 2003

Back left to right:
Radhika & Vaishali from Diu
Front left to right:
Aarti & Panasha from London

I decided to travel to India after I finished my degree. As tempting as it was to lie on a beach in Goa and passively observe the hustle and bustle of India pass by, I wanted to absorb the culture by getting involved. Teaching English in Charparda gave me the perfect opportunity to do this. The experience was new to me and to the school so it was difficult to know what to expect. All I knew was that I would be teaching English to pupils of all ages up until sixteen. My preparation prior to my visit involved a weekend TEFL course and a brief brush up on my Gujarati. The course was definitely useful in providing ideas for lesson plans and information on English grammar. And brushing up on my Gujarati was essential as it was the main medium used for communication.

Aarti checking English written work

Pujya Muktanand Bapu gave us our first tour of the school. This was cut short due to a power cut, but we managed to familiarise ourselves with the boarding houses, classroom and canteen and also meet some of the students who were still playing on the man-made Columbus ship and a few others huddled under one light finishing some homework. I am still not sure who bore the worst of the culture shock, but after swapping our combats for Punjabi dresses we were ready to face our first ‘Good afternoon teacher’.

Within our first day we realised that their knowledge of the English language was very limited. Bearing this in mind we started with the complete basics such as the alphabet. For the younger children aged between five and twelve, we found the use of nursery rhymes and songs very popular and effective, and it was pleasing to hear the children chanting the words to ‘Old Macdonald’ even after we left the classroom. For the older children we used practical exercises and role-plays, with an emphasis on speaking and listening. As much as we tried to plan our lessons ahead, we sometimes abandoned structure along with books and pencils and relied on improvisation.

Panasha teaching English

The children seemed very responsive to our classes and would constantly ask us when we would be teaching them again. Unfortunately our six-week placement flew past too quickly. We managed to teach each class at least once, but most of our time was spent with the older pupils. The children were keen to learn about the English language and culture, which made the experience even more enjoyable. The change we noticed within this time was rewarding to both teacher and pupil as the general standard of English speaking had greatly improved.

Aarti teaching oral English

Aarti Gudka and Panasha Vithlani spent 6 weeks at Brahmanand Vidya School in November / December 2003. If you wish to volunteer in a similar way, please contact BEHT.


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