“We are seeking a person to help establish and initiate an English tutoring program for a range of ages in our new Learning Center in Kolkata” through the Felix Fellowship was the beginning of a wonderful adventure and opportunity to travel to India. I was awarded the Fellowship in June then the summer was spent researching resources and learning about Kolkata, India as well as the Bengali language. I also spent time learning more about Her Future Coalition and how the Fellowship would support the organization.
September, 2022 seems like such a long time ago now but it was the beginning of teaching and working with the staff and students at the center in Sovabazar. The center staff were very friendly and welcoming and the English Language classroom is a beautiful space to teach in. Being the first Fellowship teacher meant that I brought resources with me from Canada and developed a basic plan in place to begin teaching levels from beginner to advanced English students.
I think that I was different from teachers the students had in the past. I am a very learner centered teacher who is constantly looking for ways to engage students. I believe in activities that students and teachers do together so that the teacher is modeling the learning goals for the class. I also enjoyed the classroom without desks so that the students and I could sit on the floor and work together. Classes consisted of games for learning new vocabulary, activities to reinforce skills, role-playing, songs, movement and depending on the English level, debates, listening and reading comprehension practice and daily language review. My goal for each class is that the time was interactive and students engaged in collaborative learning activities. I am not a teacher who writes on the whiteboard and wants students to copy notes.
There were several different groups of English language learners from beginner to advanced but also from the hospitality group to course instructors. Each group had different needs and couldn’t be met by a one size fits all purchased program. Course and class work was designed to meet the needs of each group and to help them advance in their English as well as their chosen fields whether it was working in a cafe, creating jewelry or working at the HFC center in various capacities. The courses were research based as well as needs based for each group.
There was also a short trip to Nepal to meet with partner organizations and their facilities.The highlight was a visit to Anjali and her school in the countryside as well as a short teacher training with the teachers in the school.
The three months passed quickly with lots of laughter and learning. It was amazing to see the confidence build in the students and also see some of them move on to start their careers. I am continuing to work with the Advanced group with a weekly online meeting and assignments on Google Classroom. It is fulfilling to see the continued desire to learn. I look forward to keeping contact with other students and hearing about their growth as they continue their English language learning.