16 November 2019

Teaching a multi-lingual class

Children using TLMs at school
By Ranjana Verma

What do you do when children in your class speak different languages? In my class, I get children from Bihar, Bangladesh, Uttar Pradesh, Nepal and all of them speak their native languages.
It is so because in the school where I teach, most students are children of migrant labourers who have come to Gurgaon to work at construction sites or factories. These kids not only speak different languages but are also in different age groups.

And my biggest challenge is to make my class interesting and ensure that they learn despite language and age barrier. I take care of one set of students for five years—from their nursery to class V. This gives me a lot of time to bring all the children in this class on the same page. The sixth-year I begin with Nursery again.

Ranjana Verma

My first year in school was difficult as I didn’t know how to explain the same concept to children speaking different languages. Then I recalled how one of my teachers used props to explain things in a fun way. She would ask us to bring pebbles, seeds, match sticks, boxes to the class and then we would do a lot of different things with them.

I thought it would be a good idea if I could also use some interesting tools to explain concepts to these children. Pictures and Sounds helped a great deal in the beginning. Clearly, kids would understand what I wanted to convey by looking at pictures. Slowly, all the children would pick up some basic words in Hindi.

And then one day, I attended the training organized by Sampark Foundation. Their English and Math kit have so many colourful TLMs and could be used in so many different ways to explain many concepts in the class.

The teaching methodologies they offer—Concrete to Abstract to teach Math, and LSRW ( Listening Speaking Reading and Writing) to teach English helped a lot. LSRW, especially, improved the way I approach language in this multi-lingual classroom.

With the help of teaching tools and methodologies, I ensure that all the children in my class are learning. I feel empowered.

 (The writer teaches in Primary Girls School in Kanhai, Gurgaon. Views expressed are her personal)