- Students face difficulty in reading and comprehending English, as it is a foreign language.
- Students from rural background have minimal exposure to English.
- ICT-based instruction can be applied to enhance the reading skills of students.
- New words can be presented along with audio-visual elements to familiarize the students with them.
The Puducherry government introduced the CBSE (NCERT) syllabus in government schools in 2014. As a result of this, the students in the rural areas struggled to cope up with the new syllabus. It has been observed that the students face difficulty in reading and comprehending English words, since it is a completely alien language to them. The students of GPS, Kottucherrypet, mostly hail from the most backward communities, and their exposure to English is minimal. It is for this reason that we decided to incorporate Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to improve the quality of teaching and learning English. In the future, we would like to extend the ICT-based education to the neighboring schools as well.
With the help of the SMC, a language lab was set up, and it was furnished with 6 computers, 1 LCD projector, a projector screen, a magnetic board with alphabets, a speaker, a sight word-learning kit, a phonemes-learning kit, and a printer. We developed ‘4-stage approach’ module, which uses PowerPoint presentation for the delivery. First, we listed out the new words from a particular lesson and prepared a PowerPoint presentation of those words, which were accompanied with pictures. Following this, we recorded the sound of those words syllabically. The module also included a bridge course in order to address the gap between the level of the English presented in the textbook and the reading level of the learners. This course consisted of two phases. While the students will learn a 100 basic words in the English language in the first phase,they will be given training in phonemes in the second phase. Teaching from the textbook would only be done after the completion of these two phases.
The students were asked to maintain a vocabulary notebook. Before teaching a particular lesson, the students were instructed to list down the words that were known to them and the new words they came across in separate pages. The teacher would have already prepared a PowerPoint presentation of all the new words, along with corresponding pictures and pronunciation guides.
As for example, the word “scientific” is presented as “sci-en-ti-fic” in the syllabic form with the corresponding audio.
The teacher asked the students to repeat the words that they were exposed to in this PowerPoint presentation. In the following stage, the audio was muted, and the teacher asked the students to say the word louder, but this time broken down into syllables). Flashcards of these words were then developed. Since the students were now familiar with the sounds of the words, their comprehension of words were enhanced with the use of flashcards. The students were asked to read the flashcards aloud as well, with proper pronunciation. This exercise was followed by an activity in which the students were asked to pick out the flashcard corresponding to the words that was pronounced by the teacher. In the final activity, the students were asked to arrange the words syllabically and also spell it out correctly using the magnetic board and the available alphabets.
As for example, “won-der-ful”, “beau-ti-ful”, “crea-ture”.
In the evaluation phase, the teacher asked the students to list down the unknown words in their vocabulary notebooks. Surely, the number of known words exceeded the number of unknown words after implementing this learning technique.
After going through these processes, it was observed that more than half the students in the class were able to read the new words quite comfortably. Once the students became familiar with the new words, proper follow-up was done through different activities, such as group reading, pair reading, individual reading, etc. Thus, ICT-based education helped us improve the reading skills of the students. It also transformed the nature of classroom. While the conventional teaching method treated the students as passive listeners, the ICT-based teaching method enabled the students to become active leaners,