February 21, 2007

English for pre-school kids

Happened to read an article on ‘do’s’ and ‘don’t’s’ of teaching English that appears in Pratham publication, State of Education in Mysore. Though the write-up is addressed to teachers of Kannada medium primary classes, it could be instructive for young mothers keen on interactive baby talk, in English, with their two or three-year olds.

Excerpts, reproduced without permission from the teachers’ English teacher, Dr Durai Krishnan:

DO encourage the child to use English household words – table, tube-light, bus, book (without literal translation in mother tongue) so long as they understand what these words stand for.

Common household vocabulary of English words vary with families – mom, dad, breakfast, dining table may not be commonly used in all households.

DO proceed teaching from the known to unknown in respect of words, sentence formation and conveying ideas.

When it comes to teaching, spoken words precede writing – No slates or notebooks until a ‘child’s mouth is full of English’, says Dr Krishnan, and at the primary level teaching of writing should be limited to the alphabet, and the child’s own name.

DO keep talking to your child – acting, laughing, story-telling; reading is no substitute to talking.

DO NOT alter the child’s learning sequence – listening, speaking, reading and writing.

Speaking to children and story-telling are best done outdoors, outside a class-room setting.

Books are not for reading – use them for showing pictures, talking about them; and also use charts, flashcards, photos, 3-D toys etc.

Teach a child one word at a time – speaking it out clearly, loudly, with lip movements.

For further details contact duraikris@gmail.com. Dr Durai Krishnan, a retired BARC scientist, is founder trustee of Sethu Bandhana Trust, Mysore.

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