Resourcefulness goes a long way on a Global Volunteers Program! For instance, this volunteer approached English teaching in India with personal creativity that resulted in an innovation available to successive volunteers. Devra explains what motivated her to inaugurate the Grammar Champion Program on a Global Volunteers India Program.
I’m not a teacher, so when I volunteered in 2014 to teach English in Chennai, I was very nervous. It’s one thing to know a subject, but it’s another to be able to engage children in learning the subject and participating. While I was refreshing myself on ways I could explain English grammar to students, I was also investigating ways in which I could maintain their attention.
Before I left, I began to explore English as a Second Language (ESL) teaching tools for grades 3-8, because I wasn’t sure where students would be in terms of their lessons. Would Indian students be taught the same lessons as American students at the same time (e.g. Indian standard 3, American grade 3) or would there be a lag in one group? Many of these techniques seemed adaptable to the India Program.
In the host community, I prepared lessons for a few different grade levels, I decided I would look at the students’ books to see what they had learned so far to ensure I could align what I had prepared with where they were at in terms of their lessons. English teaching in India became a real possibility!
Additionally, I began to think back to what motivated me in school as a child. I am a very competitive person, so I thought that it might be helpful to recognize outstanding performance in children who tried hardest or who had greatest aptitude in grammar. This would benefit the lesson in two ways. First, acknowledge the performance of the outstanding student. S/he would be recognized for a great job and inspire other students who would also be motivated by recognition to try harder to win the next day. Second, it also helped me identify who were the stellar students who could potentially help struggling students.
I enjoyed this experience so much, I returned in 2016 to improve my teaching technique, and to share more ideas for helping the children in Chennai. It’s been a very rewarding opportunity!
On her first program, Devra developed the “Grammar Champion Program, ” a detailed lesson plan rewarding students daily for their performance and participation. The engagement it encourages and its success on subsequent teams in India has led Global Volunteers to incorporate the process into the the Conversational English Teaching Manual provided for English teaching in India. Thank to volunteers like Devra, many children are enjoying the process of improving their English language skills!