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G.F. - India said:
Syllabus designThe government of Karnataka has ambitious programs to promote the teaching of English in all schools whether government or private. Please see appendix (Extract from Up to now however there are only three syllabuses: Kannada medium; a very low standard syllabus that covers just the essentials of all subjects from Kindergarten (lower/upper) to 10th standard (grade). With respect to English this syllabus has a serious flaw namely no teacher?s hand books. It is generally used in low quality schools regardless whether private or government. CBSE; this stands for central board of secondary education. This the syllabus of special central govt. run schools called kendriya vidyalaya or central schools primarily meant for central govt. employees transferable all over India. ICSE; this is an advanced all English speaking syllabus starting at Kindergarten and mostly used in convent/missionary schools of very high quality. Whereas the Kannada medium syllabus is in theory available to all children at no cost with the exception of small private schools, the CBSE syllabus is taught only as of 8th standard with strict entrance exams into the schools. Some government schools follow the ICSE syllabus in main urban areas but the competition to get your children into those schools is high and private ICSE schools charge very high school fees. My personal experience over the past 10 months in the Chamanarajanagar district of Karnataka working with a Kannada medium syllabus shows the following problems. Teachers in this rural pocket of India have very little knowledge of spoken English and are barely able to communicate beyond ?good morning, have you had breakfast?? The latter being a literal translation of the conventional Kannada greeting. Teachers teach English without the most basic knowledge of grammar. They therefore cannot make sense of the underlying syllabus of the textbooks, which starts with basic sentences i.e. ?I am a boy?, ?This is a cat?. Teaching accordingly consists of rote learning without explanations. The effect of this is that students seemingly read the text in their books, but when these sentences are transferred to the board or even slightly changed the whole system comes to a hold. Neither students nor teachers understand the meaning of the sentences. students are trained to spell but cannot read. They can to the delight of teachers properly spell words such as ?rabbit?. But when asked to draw a rabbit on the board they draw a bird. Pedagogical training is unheard of. The mostly young teachers? teaching methods overwhelmingly consist of beating students from the very young Kindergarten children onwards with a cane until they desperately cry and memorize out of fear. The training and information gap between urban and rural schools both in methodology and knowledge and the reluctance to change has been a despairing experience for me personally. In defence of the teachers it must be mentioned however that they earn Rs 1.500,--/month for 6 hrs/day/6 days/week. This is the equivalent of EUR 25, -- and less than the wage for a local cleaning lady or farm worker. To investigate why teachers prefer being teachers under these circumstances is a separate subject. I am teaching children from Upper-Kindergarten to 7th grade. Whereas with the little ones it is easy to introduce a syllabus of my own with the older ones it means trying to undo the wrongs they have learned over the years. I would like to introduce personal achievement cards for students along the beginners syllabus outlined below, but this is still a far way to go. Name: Class: Goal: Achieved: 1. students understand and execute simple classroom instructions 2. students can pronounce and demonstrate his/her understanding of basic vocabulary i.e. animals, food, cloths, house furniture, transport etc. 3. students can use the verbs to be and to have in the present simple tense in conjunction with basic vocabulary. They independently form simple sentences 4. student can use the verbs to come and to live in the present simple tense in conjunction with prepositions and can independently form simple sentences 5. student uses definite and indefinite articles correctly 6. student understands the difference between singular and plural and can form and use nouns accordingly 7. student understands the meaning of yesterday, today and tomorrow as well as now, before and after. 8. student can use the verbs to be, to have, to come & to live in the past simple tense and can independently form simple sentences 9. student reads simple texts fluently and understands the meaning of the text 10. student understands and uses modal auxiliary verbs 11. student can discuss what is seen in a series of pictures and translate these into a story 12. student understands a series of verbs (i.e. jump, run, swim, fly, climb, crawl etc.) and is able to use them in simple sentences in the present simple and past simple tense 13. student can use verbs in the future simple and present simple tense with future meaning 14. students develop creativity in storytelling. They can understand what is meant and continue with a meaningful sentence. 15. students have enough listening skills to allow them to reproduce a text they hear. In my teaching practice I had to understand that for each step of this 15 step syllabus I need a minimum of 4 lessons. For the first step considerably more. With two lessons a week this syllabus would therefore represent the syllabus for a school year. Appendix Extract from The National Curriculum Framework (2005), a document produced by theNCERT, New Delhi, starts by stressing the acutely felt need for teaching English to school children more effectively and more widely than has been done so far. The NCFspells out the two-fold goals of a language curriculum. They are, first, ?the attainment of a basic proficiency as an instrument of interpersonal communication, and secondly, as a vehicle of abstract thought and knowledge acquisition.? These two are the dominant objectives in the realization of which the English syllabus is sought to be revised in Karnataka. However, after studying the existing syllabus (2002) it was decided that all the salutary features of that syllabus should be adhered to. The NCF discusses the state of English Language teaching in the country in detail. The views expressed therein and the views of other experts are summarized below. There has always been dissatisfaction with the teaching of English in India: TheNCF says that English must be taught more widely and more effectively than has been done before. On the status of English among Indian languages the NCF says- ?English in India is no longer a language of the colonial masters. In some important domains of activity it has become a part of the Indian multilingual repertoire. In a variety of ways it has enriched Indian languages.??English plays an important role in the domains of education, administration, business and political relations, judiciary, industry etc. and is therefore a passport to social mobility, higher education and better job opportunities.??In urban India it is very common to see young people code-mixing and code-switching between English and Indian languages. 1 It is indeed unfortunate that English has so far remained associated with the rich and upper-middleclass elite. It should be the effort of the Indian Educational System to teach English to every Indian child, and to ensure that he/she gets high level of proficiency in it and not suffer discrimination for lack of it. On the starting of English at an earlier level of schooling the NCF says-?The demand for English at the initial stage of schooling is evident in the mushrooming of private English medium schools and in the early introduction of English as a subject across the states/UTs of the country. Though the problems of feasibility and preparedness are still to be solved satisfactorily, there is a general expectation that the educational system must respond to people?s aspirations and need for English. Within the eight years of education guaranteed to every child, it should be possible in the span of 5 years to ensure basic English language proficiency including basic literacy skills of reading and writing.? Accordingly in Karnataka, English has been introduced from class I from the year 2007-08. However, in classes 1-4 the major focus is to provide exposure to English in a stress free atmosphere. For four years children are just exposed to English through stories, games, TPR activities, rhymes and dialogue practice activities. English is not an examination subject in these classes. Even now formal learning of English begins at class V. But it is hoped that the exposure students get in classes 1-4 will make learning in class V an enjoyable job