How can instructors teach students a new language when they themselves are not fluent in it? That was the challenge faced by educators in the Indian state of Bihar as they attempted to teach their students English. But with a new EDC radio program, both students and teachers alike are beginning to master English.
The program, called English is Fun, is broadcast daily across the state and reaches close to 7 million children and 140,000 teachers. The 30-minute broadcasts target learners in grades 1 and 2 but have also proved popular among older students.
“Bihar has some of the lowest education indicators in the country, and teachers have poor English language skills,” says EDC’s Nadya Karim-Shaw. “The government provides teachers 20 days of training a year, but that is not sufficient to learn a language. Radio is a great way to reach out and provide teachers with daily support.”
The radio programs are based on Bihar’s current English curriculum; they include songs, games, and other interactive features to engage students in learning English. According to Karim-Shaw, “The programs feature vocabulary related to greetings, numbers, shapes, and colors. We focus on speaking and listening, so that children are able to comprehend and respond in English.”
Says Victor Paul, also of EDC, “The broadcasts motivate both students and teachers, and it is very encouraging to see the teachers use the active learning methods in other classes.”
English is Fun is funded by the government of Bihar and the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Originally published on January 21, 2009