India: Course takes English to govt primary schools

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at
Mon Feb 23 20:10:49 UTC 2009

Course takes English to govt primary schools
22 Feb 2009, 0431 hrs IST, Aditya Dev, TNN

CHANDIGARH: Despite its importance in day-to-day living, English - the
global lingua franca - continues to be a 'foreign language' for
students of government primary schools in India. In August 2007, an
international magazine had published a report, which stated that
two-thirds of such students were not able to read a simple story in
English. This worrying revelation led to the Regional Institute of
English, Sector 32, coming up with a course titled Reading and English
Acquisition Programme in collaboration with Sarv Shiksha Abhiyan,
Chandigarh. The programme was intended to motivate students to read

It was started in November 2007 with the book, Story Time: A
Collection of Fables and Folk Tales and three audio CDs, which were
distributed in 41 schools targeting students of class IV. Exercise and
activity materials appropriate for the level of learners were also

Then, things started turning around. In its second year of
implementation, the course garnered positive responses among students
as well as teachers. The number of schools implementing the course
increased to 47 in August 2008. A project associate, who visited
schools for feedback from 40 teachers and 1,500 students, prepared the
report. It stated that 95% of the teachers expressed satisfaction at
the programme's working. Around 90% of the teachers stated that the
audio component of the programme aided in promoting listening skills,
pronunciation and intonation - an objective, which was covertly built
into the programme.

An RIE official said: "This course follows the mandate of National
Curriculum Framework, 2005. It is essential that it should be followed
in other schools as well.",prtpage-1.cms


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at


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