Context of our work
To learn any language one or more of the following elements should exist
Is it possible to learn a language if all of the above 4 elements are absent?
LeapForWord's definition of under-served is "A place where all the above 4 elements are absent", which is true for most of India. How can our kids then, from so many under-served places ever access professional education which is available only in English?
In these circumstances, the responsibility of teaching English to our kids falls on the local government school teacher who himself/herself is a product of the same constrained education system and does not have either the skills or the confidence to teach English.
To make matters worse, even if the teacher is willing to try, s/he fails because we expect this teacher to be perfect in English. It is this impossible expectation that has become the single biggest bottleneck in making our kids English literate.
Imagine, 3 Maths teachers with varying abilities - one can teach only the 4 basic operations, one can teach slightly complex topics like fractions / decimals, while the 3rd can teach advanced topics like Integration / Differentiation.
Now, teacher #1 teaches grade 3 students, teacher #2, grade 7 students while teacher#3, grade 12 students. It is highly possible (in fact, keeps happening all the time), that students who have been taught by these 3 teachers, at different points in time, end up becoming proficient in Maths. Thus despite having variable skills, each of these teachers contributed to the subject proficiency of the students.
English however does not allow such a luxury.
Now, imagine 3 English teachers teaching the same students i.e. in grade 3, grade 7 and grade 12. Each of these teachers is expected to know English in totality (not in parts but in whole), which necessitates the need of an English-complete teacher. Now, it is a fact, that if you are English-ready, you are generally not in villages, but you have traveled to where the opportunities are.
In such a scenario, there seem to be 2 obvious solutions:
- Recruit English-ready teachers and send them to government schools at a pay which will compensate them adequately for their otherwise scarcely available skill
- Make English similar to Maths, so that teachers with varying abilities can still deliver the course
Thus, it's safe to say that dependency on an English-competent teacher is the single biggest bottleneck in the pursuit of English Literacy.
If knowledge has to be transferred through an unskilled distribution channel then 3 things need to happen simultaneously:.
- Break knowledge into small logically conclusive units
- Make these knowledge units rule-based
- Create a comprehensive measurement framework for each of these units
At LeapForWord, we have done exactly this with English. Our learning solution in fact goes a step further, it can be delivered completely in the regional language (i.e., English can be taught in Hindi, Marathi, Gujarati, etc.) and it does not expect the teacher to know English in totality (know only till the unit being taught. Example - some teacher can teach only Reading, some can teach Reading and Comprehension while some can also teach correct sentence structuring).
The core of our solution is a set of rules that allows translation from English into any Indian regional language and vice versa.
We believe, our solution is the most complete solution that addresses the fundamental bottleneck of the English-handicapped teacher and hence best suited for delivery in any geography where exposure to English is non-existent.
Our flagship program, designed around this solution, is called The English Literacy Program. The primary elements of this program are :
- Content: Highly structured, modular and rule-based
- Delivery: English taught in regional languages, like Marathi, Hindi, Gujarati, etc.
- Easily available and affordable technology, mainly, mobile phones, to ensure correctness of delivery
- Measurement: Effectively measures student learning, identifies teaching / learning gaps, recommends appropriate corrective actions
The first 2 elements of the solution de-skill English teaching, 3rd element lends accessibility and effectiveness while the 4th element allows for continuous improvement.
Language is best learn in the following order, viz.,
Incidentally, this is how we learn our mother tongue. We accept that exposure-based learning is the best method and any other way will not succeed totally. But how do you teach English in an environment where there is no scope for a child to listen to English being spoken on a sustained basis? Where even a 'sorry' and a 'thank you' are rarely heard!
Hence the need for a shift in the pedagogy is in order.
At LeapForWord, we have devised an English Literacy Program, wherein the child gets to learn English by focussing on his/her skills, in the following sequence -
- Comprehending the words
- Structuring grammatically correct sentences