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Diverse Classroom

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Culturally diverse classrooms are atypical feature in international Schools and a School’s success depends on how well they can weave in the curriculum so that each student benefits immensely.

So what about English learners? (Read as students who have not attained fluency in English) How can Schools bring in a comfort level and support students so that they do not end up in becoming long- term English learners?

Several discussions have been the focus with regard to such learners. Is bi-lingual education the way forward? Is it complete immersion or submersion? Can schools afford such a stand, considering the cost factors?

I aver the way out is a simple three-step process: Reach, Appreciate and Engage.

Teachers as a fundamental pivot for a School need to make English learners comfortable and build on their self-esteem. Reaching out to students by creating an environment of respect to culture, values and beliefs goes a long way in learning and behavior.

Appreciating learners for differences and celebrating the various cultures lends itself to a positive learning environment. Curiosity about students’ culture and observance of that at the back of the mind while planning lessons benefits a teacher to create a bond with the learners. For example: How do you say,_________ in your home language” will exhibit appreciation and make students feel loved and cared.

The teaching- learning process can be creatively designed using various strategies like Multiple Intelligences, Differentiated Instruction, vocabulary empowerment, windows for the essentials of English on a daily basis, visual representations etc. Challenging expectations are a pre- requisite and teachers need to keep in mind that lowering expectations spearheads lower levels of achievements.

Reach, Appreciate and engage our varied learners and the results will be bountiful and rewarding!

– Sunalini Benjamin,
  Principal, International Centre for Excellence

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Why English???

Honestly, I have always had a fascination for English Language. Maybe because I went to a public school run by Irish Sisters who laid a lot of emphasis on grammar and pronunciation. Having taught English Language and Literature at the ISC and AS/A Levels my flair for the language has motivated me to explore novel grounds.

Now if I say English is a universal language you will think I’m biased. Let me put it this way…..English is the most widely used language in the world.However, every language has a history and speaks volumes about its place of origin. If you take India, it is a land of myriad languages.

Learning more than one language is always beneficial but can we be proficient in all the languages we learn? ‘Herculean task’ ………that’s what you thought, right?

We need to admit the fact that English has created a niche for itself in the world of languages, making the globe smaller. It is the language of the business and Internet world. Besides your qualification, communication in English helps you fetch a lucrative job.More doors of opportunity in the international front will open for a talented and knowledgeable person if he is good in communicating in English……rather flawless.

Thus, if you get a chance to learn good English why not make use of it??

Yes! Why not English?? Food for thought………….

I leave it at that for you to chew,digest and debate.

– Geetha Somanathan
Secondary Coordinator, International Centre for Excellence

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Bilingualism

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“One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.”

― Frank Smith

Learning another language gives the learner the ability to step inside the mind and context of that other culture.

In a world where nations and people are ever more dependent upon on one another to supply goods and services, solve political disputes, and ensure international security, understanding other cultures is paramount. Lack of intercultural sensitivity can lead to mistrust and misunderstandings, to an inability to cooperate, negotiate, and compromise. A person competent in other languages can bridge the gap between cultures, contribute to international diplomacy, and promote national security and world peace.

Research shows that skills and concepts taught in the learners’ home language do not have to be re-taught when they transfer to a second language. A learner who knows how to read and write in one language will develop reading and writing skills in a new language faster.

Britian’s labour government introduced national language strategy in 2002. They wanted to introduce French, Spain, German, Italian and Mandarin languages in primary schools, but the greatest challenge they faced was the teacher supply. For the sustainability of local languages in any country the supply of language teachers is a crucial factor.. It is a problem across the world. English is an international language, which is widely used. Most major world organisations and functions are administered in English and the language is often used between people from different nations. As the world becomes smaller, there will soon be no way to avoid English. So why not learnt it now?

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.” – Charlemagne

– Agnes Benjamin
  ICT Facilitator, International Centre for Excellence

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Don’t insist on English! …a TED talk by Patricia Ryan

As an English teacher myself, I think this is the last statement expected out of me ‘Don’t insist on English’ but after listening to Patricia Ryan in one of the TED talks last week, I definitely want to ask…why should we insist on English?!

Living in India particularly, we are enveloped in a sea of languages. I am a ‘Mallu’ from Keralaand my mother tongue is Malayalam. I am married to an ‘Andhraite’ (or as my mother in law will stress, now a ‘Telangana-ite’) and they speak Telugu at home. I have lived in the capital for the first 25 years of my life making Hindi my first language at times.And I have been living in the silicon city for around 10 years now, where the state language is Kannada. Well I can already see myself swimming in the sea of languages!

So where does English stand a chance? In our country, ironically, everywhere!

If you are not fluent in the British language then you might not stand a chance in your job interview.If you are grammatically making no sense then you might be the laughing stock in your friend circle.If you have not studied in an English medium school you might be looked down upon. And, if YOU don’t speak English, you definitely try your best in making your child ‘English proficient’ so that he or she doesn’t lose an opportunity in today’s competitive world.

Why others…let me confess, during my school days, I myself have many a times secretly envied my friends with ‘convent’ education, wondering if my parents could have sent me to a ‘Christian’ school I would have also rattled off in English with ease. I felt, with the language, would have come more confidence!! Or was I wrong?!

I have wondered countless times, why so much fascination and attention to this foreign language. Should it be a criteria to assess your capabilities and knowledge? As Patricia says “Thank god Einstein didn’t have to pass TOEFL!”

Well all this doesn’t mean I have anything against the language. If I had, I wouldn’t be in this profession.I love the language! For that matter why only English, all languages have their own beauty with its respective history and tradition. All I hope is that we are able to protect and preserve our native languages as much as we stress on this foreign language.

Anyway, what I can infer at this stage is that,with a globe so big, there is a need to unite the boundaries around the world…right? And, English fills that blank beautifully! Yes, English is the common means of communication worldwide and to fit in the puzzle perfectly you will have to go the ‘English’way.

Is that good reasoning?

Do we lose on talent or intelligence, because of a language?

That’s something I leave you with, to ponder on.

– Shynara Reddy
  Primary English Facilitator, International Centre for Excellence

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