Karnataka govt schools embrace spoken English, boosting confidence and opportunities

Spoken English programme introduced in select schools has empowered students to speak the language without fear…
Teachers and students celebrate the ‘English Fest’ at a school in the Udupi district.
Teachers and students celebrate the ‘English Fest’ at a school in the Udupi district.

UDUPI: While it is true that English is just a language and not a measure of intelligence, knowing the language opens a window of endless opportunities. For the students of several government-run and aided Kannada medium schools in Uttara Kannada, Udupi, and Dakshina Kannada districts, a novel initiative has helped them speak the language fluently.

For the students of 291 government and aided primary schools in Brahmavara, Bantwal, Sullia, and Bhatkal and eight government high schools in Brahmavara, the earlier setback of lack of motivation to converse in English has been defeated – thanks to the spoken English classes and the English Fest initiative.

The brain behind this initiative is 43-year-old Uday Kota, block resource person, Brahmavar. Kota, who is the programme’s mentor, has put in meticulous efforts to make this initiative a success. He contacted the interested government and aided school teachers in Brahmavara in 2021 in Brahmavara block. Then teachers from 25 government schools showed interest in this initiative and they were trained by Kota. Soon, Spoken English Classes and the English Fest initiative were introduced in those 25 schools on a pilot basis.

 Uday Kota mentors government higher primary school students in the district | Express
Uday Kota mentors government higher primary school students in the district | Express

The saga did not stop there and the enthusiasm started to spread. In the 2022-23 academic year, the number of schools conducting these activities rose to 45. This academic year (2023-24), as many as 291 government and aided primary schools and eight government high schools have introduced this initiative.

Kota told The New Sunday Express that initially, he thought of this only for schools in Brahmavara block. But demand by teachers of the other districts motivated him to take this initiative to schools there.

In Dakshina Kannada, school teachers in Bantwal and Sullia taluks have been trained by Kota. In Uttara Kannada, teachers in schools from Bhatkal taluk have been trained by him. The initiative has been successfully introduced in the schools there too.

Teachers from schools in Belthangady taluk have also expressed their wish to implement this project and the orientation programme will begin soon for them.

Kota said that he has received the cooperation of teachers, officials of the education department and the parents as well.

Elaborating on the initiative, Kota said a formal inauguration programme is held at the beginning of every academic year in the schools. The teachers are told to conduct school assemblies in English. Even the parents’-teachers’ meetings are conducted in English. Students speak English during various school programmes. Once a week, ‘English Day’ is celebrated. Science experiments are explained in the English language. Students are also motivated to interview local achievers in English.

Students are made to visit public places where they will collect information and take notes in English. Teachers also create opportunities for students during the programmes in the schools wherein students are asked to deliver speeches in English. English teaching and learning materials are displayed in the exhibition conducted once a year. Schools then celebrate ‘Spoken English Fest’ at the end of the academic year. Through all these activities, students not only do away with the fear of speaking in English but also show full confidence.

On how he is executing this initiative throughout the academic year, Kota said that he created separate WhatsApp groups for each education block and there the teachers are provided with innovative learning ideas. He then conducts the ‘Teacher Interaction Programme’ every Sunday. In this, all the teachers are made to learn how to involve themselves in activities that enable students to learn English with ease. Kota says that he is proud that students who have strong bonds of their mother tongue Kannada, are easily learning communication skills in English as well. In all, 20,755 students are benefitting from this initiative in various schools in this region.

Kota adds that he is happy that what he started as a launching pad for the students in Brahmvara is spreading to neighbouring taluks and districts as well. He also said that recently teachers from as many as 50 schools in Honnavara block have decided to implement this initiative and the orientation programme for teachers has been already scheduled.

Shreshta, a Class 6 student at Government Higher Primary School, Saralebettu, Brahmavara block, says that apart from enabling her to speak fluent English, the initiative has also helped her build confidence. ‘‘The annual English Fest has reduced my stage fear too,” she adds.

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The New Indian Express