English lessons help city’s Marathi schools stay relevant
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.”