Shashi Godbole would have found it easy to learn English if she were in Patna during the Bihar Divas celebrations this year.
The character played by Sridevi in English Vinglish (2012) had enrolled in classes in New York, as her husband and daughter took her for granted because of her poor command over the language. Like her, those who wish to know more about the Queen’s tongue in real life, can just visit the British Council stall at Gandhi Maidan during Bihar Divas.
Hi-tech accessories, like tablets, and innovative methods would be at their disposal at the stall.
“The idea is to help people learn English but in a fun way,” said Debanjan Chakrabarti, head, EnglishInterface (India), British Council.
At the stall, visitors would be able to use tablets with applications that will help them learn grammar and augment their vocabulary. While some of the applications on the tablets will be in the form of audiovisual lessons, others would be games.
“One of the games is Wordshake. It helps improve one’s vocabulary. Everyone can play this game — those who are just starting out and those who already have a good stock of words. Another app we have is JourneyGrammar. It tests the user’s knowledge of English language rules and improve them,” added Chakrabarti.
Most of the apps are on Freemium models that allow a user to access it free of cost initially but charge a fee as they reach advanced levels.
Sujata Sen, director (East India), British Council, said more technology should be incorporated to teach people languages.
“Isn’t it amazing that a small device can help you learn so much in such a short period of time? Using technology can be very helpful,” she added.
Besides enjoying the innovative techniques at the stall, visitors can also take home a tablet with all the apps in it, if they take part in a quiz, said Chakrabarti. (See graphics)
Technology and speed are the need of the hour to help students learn the language, said Michael Connolly, senior training consultant, British Council, adding that the standard of English training in government schools of the state was dismal.
“I had a harrowing experience while visiting educational institutions as part of Bihar Language Initiative for Secondary Schools project,” he said.
Bihar Language Initiative for Secondary Schools is a joint project of the British Council and the education department of the state.
Connolly added: “Most teachers have very little knowledge. So we started training them. But then we thought that we could reach a larger section of the people by setting up a stall during Bihar Divas celebrations.”