Saturday, March 24, 2018

A Good Teacher

... can make an immense difference.

Rahul is changing schools and in the process he's changing his third language so that he will no longer be studying Kannada. While I was excited about him learning the language of the place we live in, he did not learn much beyond some of the alphabet in the last three years at school and over time learnt to dread the language. He didn't learn to speak so much as a sentence, to my disappointment.

Last December he started going for classes to a resident of our colony twice a week. He still did not like the language and he definitely did not like the idea of tuition but he sportingly went for every class and did his homework by himself and warmed up enough to start reading signage in Kannada and so on. I think it helped a little that I'd warned his teacher that I did not expect him to magically catch up with his class overnight; I just wanted him to get over his dread and enjoy hearing and speaking the language. Learning languages is easier for him than it is for most, so I knew breaking the mental block would help him get back on track.

So she taught him without textbooks for the most part, gave him phrases to memorise, worksheets to solve during the Christmas-New Year break while we were in Vizag, and slowly I watched him finally accept this foreign language. On Friday he wrote his final Kannada exam and he practised extensively with his teacher to ensure he covered as much of the subject as he possibly could. He was relaxed before the exam and came home happy after it was over, the first time that has happened for a Kannada test! If anything, he was a little annoyed that he had studied more than the test eventually asked for, and so 'wasted his brain power' but otherwise it was a happy ending of sorts to a journey that had been unpleasant and unwelcoming for the better part of three years.

I called his teacher today to thank her. Whatever his results may declare, to me today it is enough that my son no longer dislikes the language and for that all credit goes to his Suma Aunty. She in turn mentioned how pleased she was at his quick progress and marvelled at his aptitude for languages. It made my day to hear the kid praised, especially now. It's wonderful how a little kindness can go so far.


Shilpa said...

I've heard a similar story from another friend and her son's struggles with Kannada for a couple of years in school. When Bengaluru schools teach Kannada, they probably should keep in mind that they are dealing with a lot of kids whose mother tongue is not Kannada. Language learning should be made more fun by keeping it conversational before moving over to the alphabet. Once the kid is comfortable with the spoken language, the alphabet will be a breeze.

I found myself cheering for your son through this post, glad he soldiered on ! Will he no longer learn the language in school from next year ? As a Kannadiga who sees a generation of kids growing up in Bengaluru alienated from the city's roots and language, that breaks my heart a little. Perhaps he will take to it more if he can hang out with kids/adults who will speak the language more, or maybe see some (age appropriate) movies in Kannada etc ?

Sneha said...

My kid's school has this subject called "Kannada awareness", regardless of their choice of second / third language. They sing songs in Kannada, learn to speak small sentences used in daily life, count things etc, and the subject is not graded, so kids have no pressure of exams. I loved that

Sue said...

Shilpa - He no longer learns Kannada, but he's learnt to love the city and its people and its food, so hopefully some language will also grow in him anyway.

Sneha - Oh yes, that's a really nice idea!