The targetted sections of children were the 3rd and 4th standard children, who will be introduced to formal English only in 5th standard.
Amongst many constraints the sessions have recorded roughly 50% retention of words newly introduced over 12 sessions.
The emphasis is on the knowledge of the word, the phoenetics and the recoginition through the visual association with a picture. The alphabet and spelling are not introduced through the exercise.
Each session has a central theme - For eg Kitchen. The word cluster around kitchen is priorly determined and images for words which would possibly appear in the cluster would have been prepared. Introduction to the cluster, is by providing the central theme word, eg: Adige mane ge English nalli "Kitchen" anthare ( Equivalent of Kitchen in Kannada)
The children are then asked to connect all those words that they associate with the kitchen and the equivalent English word and image are supplied eg: "Kitchen" alli yen yen nodtheera ( What all do you see in a "Kitchen") , Kid may say "Butti". Volunteers provide the equivalent "Basket" and show them a picture of the Basket.. "Basket" hinge irutha? ( Does a basket look like this?)
Similarly fruits and vegetables...
A cluster of 30 words may be built up. Of which 10 will be keywords that the Volunteers will ensure, get introduced and later assess for retention.
The build up of the cluster is followed by a Individual activity like colouring / drawing.
This is followed by kinesthetic activity where there is a representation of the activities that relate to the kitchen, like a a skit showing Mother "Cook" ing ... or the Child "Eat" ing or "Cut"ting of the vegetables, etc.
Here is the break up of the Session content with timing:
SECTION 1: 5 minutes : Introduction and Recap. Can also have Physical Activity
SECTION 2: 10 minutes : Word Cluster (NOUN focus)
SECTION 3: 10 minutes : Individual work, Coloring and Pictures
SECTION 4: 10/15 minutes : Kinesthetic Activity (VERB focus)
SECTION 5: 10 minutes : Summary
The pictures for our sessions were hand-made by our very committed Volunteer Pooja.
There are books that have helped us derive examples for the clusters.
An alternative to this would be transforming the images into PPTs, which was well accepted ( the children were quite excited about the Computer as much as the Camera), but the computers to student ratio might deter the exercise.
The sessions have been on an experimental basis. Any volunteer group who would like to take this further into a new environment / school will be of great help. We need to identify what factors would ensure the success of the exercise through trial and error.
And we really can't err that much. The exercise will definitely act as a supplement to the classroom learning. And as Juvena, our mentor for this whole exercise, points out, we can understand the constraints under which Teachers teach in classrooms and hopefully may motivate them to undertake new initiatives, by demonstrating success in the same environment that they function in.
I sincerely thank every volunteer who has been with us in this commitment of a whole trimester.
Thanks Ameya,Vikram, Pavithra, Akshai, Chilli, Dhi, Anu, Avinash and Pooja