Experience of teaching children reading and writing of their first language Spoken language requires a large extent of rote – this is in terms of the vocabulary and sentence construct: what is a different object or action or qualification etc. called is something without a necessary logic (it is only later that words become derivates from a source word), similarly the sentence construct is also different in languages as the placement of the subject, verb, object in a sentence differs. Through continuous exposure, encouragement (without pressure), need, practice and spontaneous error and correction, children manage to learn the spoken language perfectly without going to a school. There must be many aspects of a child’s logical mind that grasps the intricacies of language as they acquire perfection in speaking it. Written language is further challenging because it requires a need to memorize symbols (alphabets) that denote the different sounds that are emergent from the spoken language. However the methods used for teaching a script have always been very different than how a child has learnt the spoken language. This makes the task more difficult and alienating for the children, to the extent that many children are not able to attain this skill even after working around it for several years. Exposed to the discussions of child-centered education, we understood the irrationalities of teaching children through the conventional alphabet method (which had the norm of a sequence: d [k x ?k ³ and associating a letter with a typical set of words, as d ls dcwrj] [k ls [kjxks’k), and the need to teach children through words that hold a meaning. Influenced by the experiences of the New Zealand teacher, Sylvia Ashton Warner1, we have been working in building the texts with the children. Our experience is limited, and is not as organic to the child as she would have done, for various reasons. However we find that our approach has also been quite effective. Finding the words to learn to read The important thing is to know what content we are going to give to the child in the written form to read and later write. From the children there and then We try to get the text from the children. Usually in the beginning, children do not say anything when the question is ‘what should I write and give you’. So it starts with a conversation (if there are few children) or a discussion (if there are many children). So discussions could be around - what did they do in the morning - what happened in their house last night - who are their friends - what did they like today - have they had a fight today with anybody - what did they collect in their scrap-picking work - where all do they sell their scrap collection - who do they like the most in their house and why, etc. Muskaan, LIG 174 Harshwardhan Nagar, Bhopal Page 1
The role of the teacher in the discussion is towards facilitating the many children present to bring up their own thoughts into the classroom, and therefore the teacher has to take the role of throwing more probing questions and acknowledging what different children are saying. As the children describe incidents or detail things, then the teacher picks up ‘key-words’ from the discussion which would then be taught as ‘sight-words’ to be read. For example, in a discussion over where and when were they in pain the children discussed different incidents and who took them to a doctor or what medicine they put on their wound, and that they could not sleep because stomach was hurting. Giving all importance to the discussion and ensuring its completed in a full manner, we then use simple words as ‘pksV yx xbZ’ (I got hurt) to be used as text for learning the language. Sometimes a child remains silent and would say ‘nothing’. Or a child may be upset over something. In these cases also, we find it interesting to use this mood to turn over by acknowledging it. An example is given in the opposite picture. From stories We have also taken...
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