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Teaching English from scratch

In Maharashtra, the second largest state by population in India and home of Mumbai, the government is bringing in a mandate that all state and civic schools must teach in both the local Marathi language and English from grade one (six-year-olds). The pressure on teachers to learn English so that they can teach it is intense – and expensive.

“We do not come from families where English is spoken,” Survarna Mhaske, a teacher in a Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) school, told Outlook. “I have tried to read my son’s English books, but they are difficult to understand. My son is in class VII in an English medium school.” She has been trying to find someone to teach her English, as online courses are too expensive for her.

Another teacher, Shailaja Raskar, has been taking an English class that costs her INR1,500 (approx £15) a month, which is a financial stretch for her. She now speaks some English, but is nowhere near fluent. “I have six years [until I] retire. If I don’t learn English I may lose my job,” she says.

As the government programme is rolled out, the teachers will be expected to conduct lessons in both Marathi and English and textbooks will be bilingual. However, for those who struggle to acquire enough English by themselves to be able to teach in the language, it’s likely to fuel the ever-growing trend – instigated by the pandemic – to leave mainstream schools and offer private tuition. The alternative, according to Raskar, is for the government to provide affordable English lessons for its teachers.

Image courtesy of Pixabay
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Liz Granirer
Liz Granirer
Liz has been a journalist for many years. She is currently editor of EL Gazette and has previously edited the magazines Young Performer, StepForward and Accounting Technician; been deputy editor on Right Start magazine; chief sub editor on Country Homes & Interiors; and sub editor on easyJet Traveller, Lonely Planet and Family Traveller magazines, along with a number of others.
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