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English is the language of aspiration and opportunity in India today. “The demand for English is coming from below” states the recent British Council report ‘English Next’ by David Gradoll (2010). The National Curriculum Framework - NCF (2005) states upfront that it is a “symbol of people’s aspirations...for a fuller participation in national and international life.” It is easy to sense the compelling desire that people in urban India hold to “speak” English. The situation in rural India is not very different.Yielding to the ‘pressure from the bottom’, the Government of Karnataka introduced English in Std I in 2007-08 under imperfect conditions. Government teachers themselves have come from a ‘system’ where English was a ‘subject’ that lacked any real connect with the learner’s life and was taught mostly through rote.
The Akshara Idea
Akshara Foundation’s English Programme –Swalpa English Thumba Fun- is aimed at supporting English language competencies in elementary school students. The key elements of the programme are teacher training and simple, attractive Teaching – Learning Material (TLM). Akshara has been working since 2009 with Government Primary school teachers to enhance their English teaching skills, by conducting capacity-building sessions and designing TLM which an average school teacher can implement easily. Teacher-enabling and learner-friendly strategies have been the twin guiding principles in developing all content. Teachers find the TLM simple to use and provides easy instruction in a language that is inconsistent and unpredictable in structure, not to mention culturally alien – but which all agree is the key to greater opportunities in life.
This programme focuses on enhancing exposure to spoken English while also introducing students to entry level reading and writing skills. Since the programme is delivered by the teacher, an innovative teacher training package has been devised to build confidence and increased capacity in the teacher. The supporting teaching-learning material is child and teacher friendly and set in a contextual framework.

Colourful and attractive charts are used to encourage open ended conversations in English between teachers and students. Through a combination of open ended questions and drills, language production opportunities are enhanced. The Teachers Manual helps the teacher to understand what questions to ask and how to frame them. The programme begins with simple steps for basic comprehension of language, building vocabulary and getting the syntax right. The student starts with ‘formulaic’ repetition of interesting rhymes and then moves on to building confidence to speak short sentences. Reading and writing skills are built over familiarity with spoken language. The classroom is equipped with print material like story charts, phonic cards, work books and reading cards. Teachers and students alike enthusiastically embark on the journey together. Training is given using the cascade model which gives the much required reach for such a scaled up programme and builds basic capacities at every level.

Swalpa English
Thumba Fun


Programme Coverage

For research and programme reports please visit our Research Reports and Research Papers pages.

For more information on assessment and school data please visit http://www.klp.org.in/