THE LANGUAGE OF UNDERSTANDING
“I have a word wall now and a classroom that is very print-rich. Words from different languages adorn the walls. Not only do all my students feel confident answering basic questions in English, I feel very comfortable teaching them too,” – Ms. Shivangi Singh
Ms. Shivangi Singh
A teacher supported at our Shikshaantaar program in Delhi (ITEI-EDMC)
As a teacher and a parent, around young people; what one is wary of, is silence. Silence can be a good thing, a space for reflection, but with ten-year-olds, silence could also be interpreted as a threat.
For the longest time, Shivangi Singh could feel the discontent and restlessness in her students. She had observed them in the spaces between the academic periods and knew them well as a class teacher. It is with this goal that she had come to attend the training session at ITEI-EDMC. Here, in turn, she got the opportunity to participate in a lecture series on multilingualism. It was then that she realised that her energetic group withdrew into silence, not for reflection.
Her students were multilingual, who spoke languages Malayalam, Tamil, Bangla, and some dialects of Hindi. However, the classroom was remarkably silent whenever there was an opportunity to interact. A multilingual class, something that a teacher can boast of actually had turned into a weakness. Through the sessions at the Institute, she learnt the strategies to using the languages being spoken in her class, as resources. The results were immediate and effortless as the students began to share their knowledge and understanding!
Not only is she now able to give them opportunities to converse meaningfully in English, but she is also able to encourage the students to interact in their mother tongue. She has successfully transformed her students into facilitators. A visit to her class shows students translating each other’s languages as if it is no big deal—these invaluable skills that people take years to master, her students practice regularly. They learn and teach, because of which her entire class is much ahead of other classes. “I have a word wall now and a classroom that is very print-rich. Words from different languages adorn the walls. Not only do all my students feel confident answering basic questions in English, I feel very comfortable teaching them too,” she says.
When there is silence now, it is purposeful and well-intended. One only wishes such a transformation was possible for the entire world! Perhaps, these students would show us the way.