A note on my three blogs


A note on my blogs

(1) vio; in love with india - this one is the main blog about my Indian adventures, which started in 2005. I don't write much on this blog these days because I prefer to write privately in the confidential blog. But check out the categories and the index to figure out your way. I have kept some older posts not about India but which I still find interesting or relevant in Old words. Also check out my new, fun category Only in India in which I post photos of funny, unique, Indian situations...

(2) vio; sounds of india - this is my blog of sounds, because India wouldn't be as incredible if it was not so vibrant and just so full of incredible sounds!

(3) vio; confidential - this an extension of my main blog in which I post entries I do not want to reveal to the entire webspace for privacy or sensitivity reasons. You must receive an invitation from me and then accept the invitation to be able to read it. You may email me if you are interested in receiving an invitation.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, 23 June 2009

Back in Europe...

although it felt like i left yesterday, and my heart is still overseas... the indian journey hasn't ended, OBVIOUSLY.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

Already...

10 of June already...??
On the 17th I'll head to Delhi via the Taj Mahal...
And already on the 21th I'll be flying back to France.

Where has the time gone?
It feels like I only arrived here yesterday...

Monday, 1 June 2009

Teaching English to Indian children...

I love teaching Aman. Aman is Vijay's older sister's son. He lives with us and not in his parents' house because over there, in their small village, the schools are very poor, and because he is not a very good pupil. But I find him remarkable. He is only nine, and he is - I guess - a bit like a little servant. He has no toys, like most kids in India, and he does a lot of work in the house. Of course, like all Indians, he washes his own underwear when he showers, and there is not even a question of being spoiled and capricious; these seem like nonexistent traits amongst Indian kids - in rural India anyway. And it is he who goes to get milk from the neighbour's every morning, it is "his" task to fill in all the bottles and the water tanks in the bathroom. And everytime anyone needs to go up or down the stairs for something, they send Aman. "Aman, go get water, Aman bring down Mummy's food, Aman come here, Aman this, Aman that..." And he obeys, he complies, and he never complains. I wonder how he feels inside. And every evening when everyone else is downstairs watching TV, if I want to go upstairs for my dinner, it is usually he who comes up with me and serves me my food. Apart from that he'll just do nothing, or sleep, or sometimes he'll sit by the temple watching the other kids play - sometimes taking part. Or, a lot of the time, he studies with me and does his English homework.

I don't like how they treat Aman most of the time. I always want to tell them, "Hey, he's just a kid!" but I guess that's a very western reaction. Life is different in India where there is a lot of (domestic) "work". Still, sometimes they'll even call him when he sleeps or eats. Yesterday he was called to bring down a glass of water to the doctor during siesta. He woke up and moaned, but as I was awake, I ordered him not to move and brought the glass down myself.

If he is a bad student, I think most of the blame has to go to India's poor education system and its ignorance. I love Aman, and he is certainly a smart boy. I have been teaching him English for a good month and a half now, and I feel I am getting somewhere with him. It was difficult at first because he was clearly conditioned by his school's education system. Over there they learn things by heart with no understanding. At least with English anyway. He is in fifth's class and at first he didn't understand anything of his English book. Of course there are no grammatical explanations whatsoever and the children will end up being told the answers in class anyway. And the kids in India, as I understand it, come to fear their teachers, and they simply don't try because they'll just be shouted at or hit if they make any mistake.

When the kids first came to see me for class they'd tell me "Namaste Madam". They are certainly always very well dressed when they come to me (children were uniforms at school in India), and such "formality" amuses me. It has no importance for me of course, and certainly not in such heat! And in the first days they were very shy and impressed, and always apologising for their mistakes. But I don't shout obviously, I'll just raise my voice firm if need be, and I certainly won't hit anyone! (unless perhaps just a harmless slap on the head with their book...)

At first then, I kind of had to get Aman used to "my way of teaching", as well as trying to assess what he could and couldn't do. He has good vocabulary which helps greatly, and I feel he probably has implicitly learnt a lot from early exposure to English, without his knowledge. It's like I have to teach him reorganising what he doesn't know that he knows, and teach him confidence... At first, perhaps during the first two weeks, it felt like he was not learning and I was very frustrated. But then I came to understand that he had to unlearn a lot of shit and fear of learning. Because he had always be taught to study and learn under threat. But of course with a mind full of anxiety and fear and tension there will be no space for learning. Little by little I taught him to trust that I would not hit him. I gave him the tense exercises over and over again so he'd integrate them, and if on the way I received some new insight as to why he didn't understand and I'd learn how I could also improve myself and explain better, using a new Hindi word or asking for Vijay's help, I'd explain in a new way. Thus I teach and learn to teach in Hindi and to Hindi speakers. And I use my knowledge and intuition about the brain, and I learn to know Aman. I'll teach him to say funny things to keep his childish mind amused and interested. I'll get him to close his eyes to help him concentrate, I'll guide him and teach him how to study too. And it has to be fun. I want to teach not just English but also the fun and love of learning.

And thus I gained Aman's confidence and trust, and today he even asks me for more homework! We spend a lot of time together too. He tells me when he misses his family, and we share our straw mats at siesta time. He'll tell me "sleep well" in English, too. One night when we were getting the beds ready to sleep outside, I was lying looking at the stars. I started singing "Twinkle twinkle little star", the only English song Hindi kids know. We ended up singing it together, besides his being completely out of tune. And then he taught me a Hindi song. I love Aman. And I hope that as long as I am around the Khajuraho family I'll teach him English.

Three new children asked me to teach them the other day. They are eleven and don't even quite know the English alphabet yet, because they just won't get taught at school - despite the relatively high level of their fifth class book. I haven't got much time to teach them now, but I want to set myself to teach them to read and write properly at least. And then there's Rishi, the four-year old prodigy who knows so much for his tiny little age, who writes capital and cursive letters and reads so well, and knows so many words already. He is a real pleasure because whatever I'll tell him will enters his young malleable mind just so easily. He is sweet and fun, and how crazy he becomes when I get out the colour pencils...

I love teaching. I feel I am learning tons, and about Hindi of course - because I do teach in Hindi. I feel it is definitely valuable training for the future...