Teaching English in Kashmir : A Teacher's Experience

by Mohammad Ameen Parray
(North Campus, Kashmir University)

Believe me or not, it is just something that ultimately does not hit the mark.


Being a postgraduate in ELT from the Aligarh Muslim University in India, I thought that the communicative approach to teaching English, would be the only good option back home in the class.
I started as a +2 English Lecturer in a nearby Higher Secondary School.

It was amazing to get the tag lecturer immediately after I finished my PG at the AMU.

I hardly had any idea of the challanges and difficulties ahead.
I was all ready to bamboozle my students with the theories of language learning that I had actually learned but was yet to practise.

The balloon was punctured when I saw more than three hundred students entering the class and struggling for some space.
The same was true for the other classes that I had to teach.
Upon inquiries and investigations throughout Kashmir Valley , I came to know that in most of the higher secondaries and colleges in Kashmir, the classroom situation is just the same.
Believe me, I forgot all the theories of ELT and linguistics and decided to be myself an approach and a methodology.
I needed to do it myself.

The administration could not do anything. More than three hundered students in the class, and I am there asking them to read aloud a poem, discuss a point from an essay, have a dialogue or just write something on a given topic. Slowly, I could control the situation which other teachers could hardly do.
I tried my best to involve my students in activities that they were quite familiar with.

I would try my level best to make them speak even if that be only one word.

With the passage of time, I found that a good number of my students were not only taking utmost interest in the class but they were also motivated enough to do more in the assigned tasks.

I found a change in myself. My motivation level increased with every passing day and every day before entering the class I would think of something that may enliven the congnito of my students.

This small experience at the +2 level has taught me one thing as a language teacher that if only a teacher is serious and motivated enough to change the fate of students, marvellous results could be expected.

Comments for Teaching English in Kashmir : A Teacher's Experience

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Sep 05, 2012
ESL Activities for Large Classes
by: Mark (Admin)

Mohammad, thank you for sharing your story.

I thought I had a lot of students with classes sometimes reaching 70. I understand how a lot of the techniques you learnt at university would not work so well with classes of 300.

Have you been able to adapt many of the techniques you were taught? Which kinds of activities seem to work best with such large classes?

What is the level of English generally amongst students in Kashmir?

Sep 12, 2012
ELT Experience
by: Mohammad Ameen Parray

Well, to be frank enough, it is my eclecticism that worked in such situations.

For teaching different linguistic skills to my students, I would most of the time introduce my students to some real life situations and ask them to perform something where they: like to speak a few sentences about that situation, write something,think something or just allow themselves to imagine in that situation.

I observed that most of my students did not like grammar in the class.The word grammar was a horror for them. So,It thought something interesting needs to be done.

Upon deliberation on the issue, I constructed such exercises that were not only easy and interesting but would lead my students towards a joyful discovery of rules and patterns governing English grammar.

I would make them discover the things in grammar and would never encourage them to look for some traditional books of grammar.

Besides, I would accept any thing that my students would say or write. Why, because my aim was to make them fluent and as for as accuracy was concerned I believed that It would definitely come to them on its own one day if only they are encouraged to listen,to speak and to read and write.

This is how actually I could handle some of the toughest batches of my students at +2 level in some rural areas of Kashmir and I am happy to see that some of students are really doing very well.

Nov 01, 2012
It's true,but what to do?
by: Sudeshna

Dear ELT lecturer
I'm also from India.I did my CELTA course from Moscow a nd teaching English in the schools,where only10 children are in the class.For India I think you need a different teaching method!
Best of luck.
Sudeshna .

Jan 17, 2013
Teaching English in India
by: Anonymous

Well,no matter how small or big ones classroom situation is,ultimately it is the will of the teacher that matters in exploiting the given situation and materials and appropriating to the needs of the students.
I believe that if a teacher has a good idea of the needs of his/her students amzing prepartion is sure to welcome him/her on his/her way to the class.
I suppose language classroom should be as live as life is outside the class in a playground,at home or in the market.
The real challange for a language teacher in a Country like India ,Pakistan,kashmir or the Gulf is to make English language learning sound natural to students in the class.
Without necessarily theorising about it all,a teacher use audios,videos,stories,paintings,pictures or in fact take the students out for a live language production situation in the real life.
I really wonder why language teachers do not ask for tours wherein learners could be asked to talk to and enter into dialogue with native speakers of English at different places for different purposes.
By the way,in Kashmir the crowd in college and higher secondary classes is yet to subside though the Govt is opening more and more Colleges and Schools and English has been made a compulsory subject from Nursery to UG classes.

Mohammad Ameen Parray

May 15, 2014
Praise
by: Anonymous

Asalam aliqum
Mr parry
it is indeed a great pleasure to meet directly or indirectly the people related to ELT,TESOL, EFL. You are the one more in the list of reputes.
I completely agree with you that is approach is much needed for Jammu And Kashmir children specifically who don't overcome from Holo phobia till HSs, and leaves them always in dilemma of low confidence as far as the English language learning is concerned.
I request you if you have written any English language material related to school children in kashmir, please forward me.
As i am a researcher IN ELT(PhD)working on Govt Education in kashmir.

Thank you

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