Learning a language is learning a culture too; what remains crucial is that the process of learning a new language, for whatever be the reason, serves as a catalyst for the amalgamation of cultures, rather than the over-shadowing of one. ‘English Vinglish’ was one of the films, which showcased this sensitive balance poignantly. The metamorphosis, the learning of a language encourages in an individual, is manifold, and at various levels – mental, emotional, and social. The journey is marked with challenges, milestones, and learnings. I still recall that hailing from a multi-cultural background did not make learning my mother tongue any easier, much to the dismay of my mother’s countrymen (and women).
However, mom and I were of the same opinion: nothing should be forced, as processes take their natural course for the best in life. At 19, I did manage to; finally, learn German thanks to Max Mueller Bhavan or the Goethe Institute. I remember the methodologies very well, and not only that, but the learnt matter too, thanks to the former. The human connect was always paramount, irrespective of the types of tools used.
In today’s time and age, teaching methodologies and techniques have seen phenomenal changes; creativity, interaction, innovation, and other such related words are some of the adjectives, which are the norm. The difference: the rather ‘heavy’ application of technology and its aspects. Recently I took up a new assignment with IL&FS Education and Technology Services or IETS, where I was required to interview a gentleman, by the name of Rupesh Yashwant Kulkarni, from Maharashtra. He is an ICT teacher, who wished to enhance his English speaking skills. He enrolled for an online English speaking course, EnglishBolo, which is a user friendly platform that focusses on the usage of the language in day-to-day professional and personal life, encouraging the user to speak the language, through apt responses, but in a virtual classroom.
I quizzed him about his experience, and he answered that the experience had, indeed, been unique. Well, what was, I begged to know, not understanding how a language could, possibly, be taught online with such success. He explained about the comfort involved, thanks to an ‘anytime, anywhere’ approach, involving a virtual yet interactive exchange of inputs, ideas and feedbacks with teachers and students, which was a big USP in today’s hectic and chaos. The site, he says, is a reservoir of different types of assignments for different levels of students, which one could attempt at one’s own pace, but within a stipulated time frame of 90 days. Another ‘peer’ of his, who is a school coordinator, Trinath Kabir Chandra Patra, highlighted the course’s cost effectiveness as advantageous.
I wondered to myself: how times have changed? I remembered the strict timings, the home-works, and the stringent timelines, but I guess ‘a lot of water has flown under the bridge since then’. Having said the same, the language teaching ‘market’ has grown by leaps and bounds. The fact remains though that whether virtual or physical, the interaction with fellow human beings holds true, always. The human component is vital for any form of learning, development and growth. Having said this, I still could not resist logging-on to the EnglishBolo site to have a sneak-peak myself in order discover, for myself, what all the ‘furore’ was all about…that is for another time to describe, dear readers!