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Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Nature of Langauge

The Nature of Language was not studied in the old English curriculum. It came with the new and it came with a wide possibility of answers that can come from anywhere, as long as it concerned language albeit the syllabus, which I doubt I can call one. The teachers were given three pages of notes on theories of language acquisition, levels of analysis and other basic terms in linguistics. I received the notes from a colleague of mine who attended a workshop on teaching Nature of Language. The same thing was to be taught from class nine till twelve (as far as we have been informed). Students have to write answers to 10 points under this section in the exam.

Since the questions (set by the teachers who are put together by BIG SEA) don't follow the specified notes, most students lose marks in this section. Few questions always surprise/confuse us. Students may lose only one or two points but they lose and sometimes they don't qualify for a RGoB scholarship because their English marks is one or two points short.

BHSEC, English, Teacher's Guide

If I may, I see this section allotted to Language as very ambitious but bleak and obscure to most teachers,  given the material for teaching and our (teachers) knowledge of Language. Further more, the BHSEC teacher's guide ask teachers to invent activities on language study. I am lost as an English Language teacher with the Nature of Language.
Forgive my ignorance if I am wrong but I see little requirement for school students to study this in school and if they have to then the curriculum should cut out a clear and definite sub-curriculum for teaching Nature of Language and the teachers should be convinced why this has to be taught.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Role Playing

I remember my language teacher and Shakespeare. He would try to impersonate a victorian theatrical scene with the Shakespearean English that he so stylishly uttered to our bewilderment. Most of us then were amazed with the strange poetic language heard for the first time and few were, of course, dumb struck because the English was different and difficult. But the excitement only lasted for the first few periods. After that it was only listening to the teacher, period after period. Even the most promising student slowly drifted away into daydreams.

Thinking about it right now, a role play would have made the whole awesomeness  more exciting or simply put, more durable and understandable.

Today students don't have to study Shakespeare. Instead they have one act plays, 'Once Upon a Greek Stage' in class eleven and 'Episode in the Life of an Author' in twelve. Going by the teacher's guide, most teachers I know start with a role play. And how they, the students, enjoy their role play.

Today I had to watch the same drama role played four times and each time the drama became more exciting with the characters improving with their dialogues and the acting. Each team is a performing theater group. The teams have leaders, who also took the role of the director. Since they work in groups, they are talking, laughing and discussing which keeps them awake and engaged, even if it is the last period.

Role playing has made my work easy and fun. The students enjoy the role play and enjoying it makes it easier for them to understand the story of the drama. They also pick up basic acting skills and in the future they may make it big with acting, as a career.

But this is the closest we get to a drama class in Bhutan. I wish there was more to it than the short plays and the role playing.