Monday April 22, 2019
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Punjab: English school teachers fail basic English test

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Chandigarh: English school teachers in Punjab have flunked the English language test.

From tenses to spellings, every thing they wrote was wrong; resulting in a rap on their knuckles by Education Minister, Dalit Singh Cheema. They may now find themselves back in schools to unlearn the wrong.

Sample these: “Leak of interest”, “Staff of our school was vacant” and “Our school has situated remote area”. These are some of the shocking errors that came to light in the written replies of 220 teachers of government schools, who were asked by the Punjab School Education Board to explain the poor results of Class 10 students in English in their schools.

The board called these teachers for a meeting in Mohali town to know why more than 80,000 of the 3.5 lakh students of Class 10 failed to clear the English exam.

At the meeting, where Cheema was present, each teacher was given a proforma to explain the reasons for the poor results — and suggestions to improve the learning levels.

credits: oakland.k12.mi.us
credits: oakland.k12.mi.us

When asked to speak in English, most teachers left the minister fuming. One teacher explained the reason for the poor performance by saying: “The main reason is our school has situated remote area.”

The teacher’s idea of improving the results was starting “fresh periods before recess”.

“English are international language,” another teacher remarked.

When the minister pointed out the glaring mistakes in the four-word sentence, the teacher argued that he forgot to bring his reading glasses.
A frustrated Cheema asked: “What is relation between the spectacles and the grammar?”

Another teacher, who wanted to say that the vacant posts of teachers should be filled on priority, wrote “posts need to be fulfilled”.

Another teacher wrote: “Student mental level are not well in these syllabus.” Yet another wrote: “It class was very weak from 6 by chance.”

“My sentence formation was wrong because I got nervous,” a teacher later told the minister.

There were howlers in spellings: practical was spelt as “precticls”, should as “shoud”, lack as “leak” and vacant as “vacent.”

The stunned minister told the teachers: “Now I realise that the students are not at fault. In fact, teachers are responsible. Those being taught by such teachers should not even dream of passing the exams.”

Concerned over the declining standards of education at the primary and secondary levels, Cheema told a media outlet that after meeting the teachers he has constituted a committee comprising educationists to chalk out a long-term plan to improve their language skills.

The first task of the committee would be to study the problem in depth and then work out a crash course for the teachers.

Besides, the school board will work out details of a long-term training programme for English teachers in each school, said Cheema, who will personally monitor the training capsule. (IANS)

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Volunteers in Colorado to Teach English to Immigrant Students

At the Intercambio Community Center in Longmont, Colorado, volunteer Deepa McCauley is teaching a dozen immigrants to talk about health in English

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The volunteer teachers and their students both say the meaningful conversations they have at their Intercambio classes build lasting community connections. Pixabay

It’s been said that to have another language is to possess a second soul. For immigrants to the U.S., that soul can be hard to get, because it’s often confusing and difficult to find English classes, and private lessons can be expensive.

In Colorado, an award-winning group called Intercambio trains volunteers to teach English as a second language to immigrant students from around the world. The lessons take place in classroom settings or in the immigrant’s home. In the process, volunteers and their “students” often become lasting friends, building meaningful connections and a deeper soul for the entire community.

At the Intercambio Community Center in Longmont, Colorado, volunteer Deepa McCauley is teaching a dozen immigrants to talk about health … in English.

“Running a fever doesn’t mean that you’re running,” she said. “Running a fever is the temperature. Yes, exactly. The thermometer moves.” The men and women in her class come from around the world.

McCauley teaches them English without speaking their native languages. She says it’s possible because the training materials are filled with helpful illustrations and because of the training she received from Intercambio. “I don’t have a teaching background, but Intercambio has great training classes,” she said.

Its own training materials

Intercambio’s Executive Director Lee Shainis says the group developed its training materials with the volunteers in mind.

“We found that a lot of the materials out there were not directly geared toward volunteer teachers, and we’ve had 5,000 volunteer teachers since we started, 18 years ago,” he said. “And volunteers are capable of doing an amazing job, but they also need something ready to go and also really practical and relevant.”

Back in the classroom, McCauley listens closely when her students speak up, looking for ways to make their conversations more meaningful and relevant. That includes a lesson in their textbooks about mental health.

McCauley reads from the textbook: “How’s he feeling?” she asks. “Depressed,” the class responds. But then a student from Peru takes a step away from the textbook lesson. She ventures to say that depression can come from discrimination.

english, volunteers, learn english
At the Intercambio Community Center in Longmont, Colorado, volunteer Deepa McCauley is teaching a dozen immigrants to talk about health in English. Pixabay

Rather than going back to the textbook right away, McCauley uses this moment to build a more meaningful connection for everyone. Students stop writing and look up and watch as McCauley responds:

“Yep. Depression can come from discrimination. My father, in India, he was an engineer. He came to America, he was collecting carts. In the grocery store. He was depressed.” “Changing life,” a woman from Peru says. “Big change in life,” McCauley responds.

Meaningful lessons, lasting difference

Intercambio’s Shainis says that making language lessons meaningful makes a lasting difference, thanks to volunteer teachers such as McCauley.

“Deepa is awesome. She was one of our many teachers who had zero experience as a volunteer teacher teaching English when she first came in, and we’ve seen huge advancements in her quality of teaching, in her quality of getting her students engaged.” The opportunity to help immigrants learn English in this way has a personal meaning for McCauley.

“One of the main reasons I wanted to teach English is because my parents were first generation immigrants who didn’t speak English, and they had a really hard time,” she said. “And they wouldn’t have had a hard time if they had a place like Intercambio.”

english, learn english, volunteers
Intercambio’s Shainis says that making language lessons meaningful makes a lasting difference, thanks to volunteer teachers such as McCauley. Pixabay

Back at the Intercambio classroom, there are many successes to celebrate, such as the advances of a student named Silvia, who came to the United States from Mexico.

ALSO READ: ‘Credible Threat’ Leads To Closing of Denver-Area Schools

“When I left my country, I didn’t speak at all English. At all,” Sylvia said. “Sylvia was one of my very first students,” McCauley said. “She’s been here for how many years now? Two years. Now she has a job. She’s working. So she’s doing really well.”

The volunteer teachers and their students both say the meaningful conversations they have at their Intercambio classes build lasting community connections. (VOA)