English walks the talk in Gujaratís schools, past Macaulay
Students will now learn how to write a bio-data, create an email account, key in text messages on mobile phones and read newspapers in schools and much more before they learn to recite Wordsworth's The Daffodils.
Rejecting the Macaulay way of learning English, Gujarat Council for Educational Research and Training (GCERT) has revised Classes V-VIII textbooks that teach spoken and communicative English before teaching writing techniques.
The new text books for Class VIII, for instance, have exercises on comparing mobile phone models, creating email accounts, filling in a voter identity card, talking to neighbours and conversing with friends as part of its English syllabus.
In schools across Gujarat, learning English is compulsory Class V onwards. The new system, tested on some 500 schools for a year under the Right to Education (RTE) guidelines, does away with learning basics of grammar like verbs, nouns, gender and subject-predicate. The emphasis is more on everyday situations. So every English word lists the Gujarati way of writing it and is also translated to help one know the meaning and learn pronunciation. The new syllabus will be implemented in over 40,000 government-run and government-aided schools in the state.
Unlike the stress on alphabets and age-old rhymes, English language teaching now focusses on tools of communication and gadgets. So there are exercises like "List out the gadgets in your home" (Class VII) and so on.
"The changes have been incorporated to make the content interesting and practical and which the students can relate to. In this manner, it is far easier to teach them English as a child understands what he sees and uses in a daily life. More than writing it correctly, it is important to understand what he is being taught," said former adviser to Ministry of Human Resource and Development Subir Shukla, who was brought in by the state government to suggest and incorporate changes in the curriculum, particularly in English subject.
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