Before I go into the details of my training workshops in Koovathur and Krishnagiri, I wanted to apologize to my readers for the delay! I have been incredibly busy and some personal things popped up but prepare yourself for an onslaught of posts detailing the last couple of weeks in India.
First, the teacher training workshops in the Koovathur was the same one we conducted in Vembakkam but with the teachers at the school there. Unlike the Vembakkam trainings, my co-interns (Marion, Devan, Mithun, and Mathu) and I were able to commute to the school every day since it was much closer. The trainings in Koovathur ran from the 27th of May to the 1st of June; then we left for Krishnagiri early on the 2nd and came back on the 3rd.
This time, I was more confident in teaching the seminar already having a little background from Vembakkam and Coimbatore, going into this training workshop was a lot easier knowing what worked and what didn’t.
The teachers at Koovathur were older and some had a basic grasp of English which made our training easier. As I mentioned before, my fellow interns and I learned from the Vembakkam and Coimbatore trainings. For example, in the first workshops we stressed the importance of sentence structure of Subject-Verb-Object(S-V-O), which is the most common pattern found in the English language. What I failed to realize was that the S-V-O order did not apply to Tamil, where Subject-Object-Verb is the basic structure. We kept seeing the teachers put the verbs at the end because they were directly translating from Tamil without thinking about the difference between the two languages. Once we aware of said difference, the teachers were able to form grammatically correct sentences. The English packet from Vembakkam’s training was utilized in Koovathur and it was a success there as well.
A problem present in both schools was prepositions and how to place them in sentences. Prepositions are important, especially in a classroom setting where teachers are instructing students to go places and put things in specific locations. Often times the teachers would switch the subjects around saying that the “Table under book” when the book was under the table. We spent a lot more time in Koovathur on prepositions and did a lot of activities based on preposition use, since that would be utilized the most in real life classroom settings.
An obstacle we ran into in Koovathur that was not present in Vembakkam was that we had no access to computers. In the previous training, we had rented out laptops that we brought to the school for the teachers to utilize and the Vembakkam teachers received thorough computer training. However, when we arrived in Koovathur we realized that the computers in the computer lab could not work because of the low voltage. As a result the computer training in Koovathur was not as effective as it could have been. I brought my own laptop and as did Mithun, the other intern. We were the only ones who had a PC laptop while all the other interns had Apple products. The issue of low voltage was not only a hindrance to our computer training but in the long run presents a larger issue of how the audiovisual material Eureka has prepared will work. In order for us to teach English audio and visual material is essential, but without the proper resources, it seems hard to run.
After we finished in Koovathur we headed to Krishnagiri, known for its delicious mangoes.This training ran much like Coimbatore and my co-interns and I planned on the same lesson plan as Coimbatore. We were originally told that we had 2 hours per session but it ended up that we had two hours for both sessions effectively cutting our lesson plan by 30 minutes. The first session we were only able to go over the theoretical aspects of English grammar going over sentence structure, forming questions, and also the different forms of “to be” in the past, present, and future. Since our time was cut short we were unable to act out the scenarios. We only had about 45 minutes in the second session so we had a very quick introduction into sentence structure and went into the scenario activity which was kind of rushed and not as good as the ones in Coimbatore due to the restricted time. To be honest, I was fairly disappointed with the time we had and did not feel like we had not been able to help the trainers but surprisingly the feedback on our sessions were overwhelmingly positive.
After the workshop for the first day was over, everyone packed onto a bus rented by Eureka and went to the Krishnagiri town and watched Kutti Puli (Young Tiger) a Tamil action drama comedy romance film–referred to as a masala film, a mix of flavors– about a man’s unending love his mother and thali sentiment. If you haven’t picked up from the sarcasm, the film wasn’t the greatest plot wise but more entertaining than the movie was observing how people reacted to film from whistling loudly as the hero is introduced to dancing in their seat when a kuthu song comes on. I have had some exposure to the…vigor of a Tamil audience and did not really pay attention to it but my Marion and Devan were enthralled by it, and it was an experience.
The next day we had the whole day to ourselves and after sleeping in for a little bit, we went out in the town to explore. We bought mangoes and haggled with some side vendors. After two hours of exploring, we came back to the center and took a walk. There was land and farming behind our living quarters and we took a short walk. Finding some coconut trees, we settled down and took an afternoon nap under the sun.