Sri Aurobindo Rural & Village Action & Movement (SARVAM, an initiative of Sri Aurobindo Society) has been conducting English Access Microscholarship Programme since 2013, through which the students in the village learn English language through varied activities and mediums. This Program is being conducted in association with US Consulate, Regional English Language Office (RELO) and FHI 360 for the village students. As a part of the Access Program, various American English lan guage trainers, scholars and experts periodically visit SARVAM centre to train teachers and students on new methodologies and approaches to learn and teach English.
On March 4, 2018, an English Language Fellow, Ms Cristin Bleess, visited the Satyam centre of the SARVAM programme. The English Language Fellow Program sends experienced US TESOL professionals on teaching assignments at universities and other academic institutions around the world. As a US Department of State public diplomacy initiative, Fellows are cultural ambassadors that promote English language learning and mutual understanding through cultural exchange.
Apart from being an English Language Fellow (ELF), Cristin is associated with the English Language Teaching Institute of Symbiosis (ELTIS) in Pune. She has been a teacher at the PROULEX Institute at the University of Guadalajara, a Fulbright exchange teacher in Colombia, an exchange instructor in Uruguay, and a Peace Corps volunteer in Albania, while still finding time to have a long and successful career as a Spanish teacher in the United States and a past president of the Colorado Congress of Foreign Language Teachers.
It was a pleasure and honor to have such an experienced English educator visit SARVAM for some intensely interactive sessions with all the English Access Scholarship teachers and students, teaching not only English language, but also about American way of life.
Training for SARVAM Access Teachers
With the teachers, Cristin concentrated on providing practical and simple methodologies to teach English Grammar. She emphasized on the importance of using real-life examples and experiences to tutor the students. In addition, she described lots of activities that the teachers can adopt to explain the various parts of the speech, thus making it easier for teaching English Grammar. The sessions proved to be very interesting and highly educative for the trainers.
Session for Access Students
For the students, Cristin concentrated on explaining the commonalities and differences in the cultures of America and India. The tutor introduced herself and went on to describe about the weather, dress and the food of the people in US and compared them to the customs and culture in India. She also emphasized that despite the differences in way of living, there were many commonalities about the two nations and in fact people of the entire world.
The End Result
On the whole, the visit by the American Scholar was very useful to the SARVAM students and trainers. The students better understood the culture and different aspects of America and English language as it came straight from a citizen of America. Ms Bleess was very friendly and approachable, which motivated and encouraged the English Access students to freely interact with her and clarify many of their thoughts. On the other hand, the scholar seemed very surprised and pleased with the levels of enthusiasm and passion she observed at SARVAM for learning English and to know more about US in particular and the world at large. In all, it was a wonderful experience for everyone involved.