English les­sons help city’s Marathi schools stay rel­e­vant

Hindustan Times ST (Mumbai) - - FRONT PAGE - Ankita Bhatkhande

MUM­BAI: In a small class­room at a Vile Parle school, 40 stu­dents are at­ten­tively par­tic­i­pat­ing in a class­room dis­cus­sion. “Now, give me the right verb form for the sen­tence ‘Elsa … her hair every­day’,” the teacher says. “Combs!!!” shouts a bunch of en­thu­si­as­tic stu­dents.

Over the past few years, the Parle Ti­lak Marathi Vidyalay, founded in 1921, and one of Mum­bai’s most prom­i­nent Marathi-medium schools, has been con­duct­ing English spe­cial classes be­yond the cur­ricu­lum, to stay rel­e­vant at a time know­ing English has be­come im­por­tant for both stu­dents and their par­ents. From con­struct­ing sim­ple sen­tences to de­scrib­ing images and en­gag­ing in group dis­cus­sions, spe­cially-ap­pointed teach­ers train stu­dents at the school to master the lan­guage.

“Most stu­dents who come to ver­nac­u­lar medium schools of­ten lack the con­fi­dence to speak English,” said city-based tu­tor Meenal Paran­jpe, who heads the English­learn­ing ini­tia­tive at Parle Ti­lak. Paran­jpe added that there is a gen­eral un­der­stand­ing that stu­dents find it dif­fi­cult to speak English. “But we need to teach them to read, write and lis­ten well be­fore they learn to speak flu­ently.” Parle Ti­lak is not the only school go­ing out of the way to bring English classes into their time-tables. The num­ber of English-medium schools in Mum­bai rose from 1,241 in 2013-14 to 1,805 in 2015-16; the num­ber of Marathi-medium schools in the same pe­riod fell from 1,142 to 1,125, ac­cord­ing to data from the Deputy Direc­torate of Ed­u­ca­tion. Sim­i­larly, en­rol­ment rates at Marathi -medium schools in Mum­bai de­clined from 2013-2018, but al­most tripled in English-medium schools in the same pe­riod. Marathi-medium schools are now try­ing to stem this de­cline. Ra­jen­dra Prad­han, the pres­i­dent of Sion’s DS

High School, founded in 1939, said, “We have a de­cent stu­dent strength, but we can­not avoid the fact that English-medium schools are go­ing to flour­ish.”

He added, “Most stu­dents we get to­day are first-gen­er­a­tion learn­ers in their fam­i­lies, and so, lack ex­po­sure to English. With the help of a spe­cially-de­signed pro­gramme, we want to pre­pare them for their fu­ture.”


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