The Naraina Freedom English Academy (FEA) was started in November, 2013.
I was appointed as the evening facilitator of this brand new center and entrusted with the responsibility of getting it to take off successfully. While new is exciting, it is also a tad bit overwhelming. For first few weeks, I had a hard time connecting with my students. Students found it difficult to understand my accent and the fact that I did not speak any Hindi, a language that came naturally to them, made matters worse. Sometimes when I corrected their pronunciation, they ridiculed it and that made me feel uneasy. But as they say, “No pain, no gain.”
During the oral communication activities, they showcased their individual talents and zeal for learning new things. Although there were a few students who came just for fun and interrupted the class.
During these trying times, I was very grateful for my our seniors – their patience and guidance. Every day brought me one step closer to understanding my students and their learning needs. Aw we began to bond, I started enjoying the classes.
One of the most memorable day in my FEA journey was December 31, when Mr Avishek came to my center to conduct music-based language learning activity in my students. The key highlight for me was the part where students were asked to make a New Year card for me. I cherish it till today and one look at them makes me smile when I am feeling low or lost.
As my Hindi is poor penny’s worth, I struggled initially with my students. But adversity is our greatest ally. My poor Hindi is the reason for my students comfort in English. In each of the 4 sessions, I chose 5 or 6 students as my interpreters and I solicit their services when a student is unable to understand the lesson; when a prospective students or his parents visit the center and need info. This has forced my students to be better listeners as they need to them translate it for me in English. I find this technique as an advantage for the students as they are forced to speak to me in English.
Last month, I conducted the first Parent Teacher Interaction (PTI). For the first time, I got to meet the parents of each and every student. My Compliance Supervisor also visited the center and led the first two sessions. Both the students and the parents had a good time with her. For the third session, when I took the floor, there was an uneasy silence as I started speaking in English. But I was unfazed. My students were my interpreters. I let my students translate what I said into Hindi for the comfort of their parents. All I could see was faces with pride written large across them - I am not sure how well they listened, even though it was in Hindi.
They seemed too busy feeling proud of their son/daughter translating English into Hindi.