Teaching English & Computers to Domestic-Helpers

In 2011 Shashi, started working with me as my house-helper. She is from Orissa (India) and a decent, enthusiastic person. She had finished her 5th grade in the local language many years ago. Ever since she started working with me she would get some or other form may it be Bank deposit, or withdrawal forms or kid’s school forms, ID form  anything she would give it to me and would request  me to fill it for her. Every time  I would take few minutes to fill the forms but at the end I would always say,” Look Shashi if you were educated or at least  knew basics of English/Hindi you could have been independent today. You can still learn if you wish. But please make sure you give good education to your kids.” This kind of routine went on for few months.

Every day she would see me teaching kids may it be Creative writing or Phonics. One fine day she just asked me,”Didi (sister) you take so many classes for kids, as you have been behind me for learning English, I too feel I should learn at least basics of English so that I can fill different forms and understand what’s going on in my kids school, so, can you please teach me that much Didi.” I was really happy to see her interest because I knew I could only make her think about the right options but can’t force her to do something unless she is convinced and believes in herself. Now it was my turn to keep my word so I said yes to her.

I knew, Shashi being a house helper would surely need some more motivation than just her own interest because with family and financial problems she might give up at certain stage. To keep that learning desire alive in her, I decided to get few more ladies like her who were interested in learning.  I thought this would surely help Shashi to boost her confidence and level of interest in the learning. To my surprise I got six house helpers and I started  a Not- For-Profit English class for these ladies.

As I progressed I realized the challenges and difficulties to teach adults, esspecially to those who haven’t been to school ever before. It’s indeed a tough task to break their pre set notions and get them to the student level. Teaching kids and teaching adults are way different. Adults and children both learn at different speeds. Adults come into a classroom with different life experiences. Their attention span, learning and adjusting capacity, communication style, following directions everything varies. Adults brains are well formed and they are very clear about what they want and what they expect from the class. I understood that if a student can’t learn the way we teach then maybe we should teach the way they learn.  So  to keep them motivated, I came up with a new syllabus suitable for adults by which they could imagine the usefulness of their learning in their personal and professional life. In the process I even learned that good intentions are sometimes not enough. It takes more than good intentions to make a meaningful impact.

Over the period, couple of ladies did discontinue the class due to their personal problems but those who continued did an excellent job. It was amazing to see how they all started from recognizing alphabets to reading third level books in one and half year. They even started understanding small English conversations. They all were thrilled to see their own progress.

Class : 2013-14

Below are the pictures of couple of students from the batch 2012-13 who had attended the Sanskarvarg annual day event in 2013.

Lakshmi and Shashi ,  We started with a,b,c a year ago & now they can read  second level reading books. Here appreciating their efforts and dedication.

Lakshmi and Shashi ,
We started with a,b,c a year ago & now they can read second level reading books. Here appreciating their efforts and dedication.

They surprised me by reading few lines for me... way to go ladies...

They surprised me by reading few lines for me… way to go ladies…

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