Tuesday, January 6, 2009

English Lessons Through Radio

In India, radio has always been a popular medium of instruction, especially in the rural sector. It has functioned not only as a device for entertainment, but also one which dispenses relevant information to its user. The radio has now assumed a new role- that of an English teacher!

There is pin drop silence in a crammed classroom at a government primary school in the northern Indian state of Bihar.

The students are looking inquisitively at a radio set perched on a plastic chair in the middle of the classroom in the capital, Patna.

They are all waiting for a new English lesson to begin - on the radio.

The lesson is called 'English is Fun' and teaches the basics of the language to primary school students.

"It is very easy to learn English on radio. Every day we wait for this class. Even if the teacher is not in the class we learn and enjoy the programme," a student, Sakshi Kumari, said.

Interestingly, backward and dirt-poor Bihar appears to be a trend setter here - a recent federal government report found that school students in the state are now faring better in English and mathematics than anywhere else in the country.

This in a state where only 47% of people are literate as against the national average of nearly 65%.

The year-long interactive radio lessons are being broadcast by the four regional state-run All India Radio stations. The lessons cover seven million students attending 65,000 primary schools in all the 38 districts of the state.

And how has this program been received?

"After 25 episodes of the programme, we found that it is a big hit among the students," director of the programme Rajesh Bhushan said.

"The programme provides poor students of government schools an opportunity to learn the English language, brush up their grammar all while having fun," said English teacher Archana Kumari.

"Now listening to the radio we can already say things like good morning, good evening, hello and other things like that. We enjoy learning English through this radio class," says Mohammud Abid.

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