Every year I work for part of the summer holidays in India, with The Teacher Foundation, (http://www.teacherfoundation.org/) a teacher-training organisation based in Bangalore. In July 2014, I was asked to work with a cohort of pre-service teacher trainees, ranging in age from seventeen to early forties, on the content of the Indian primary English curriculum, and its interactive delivery, covering all four strands – listening, speaking, reading, including phonics, and writing – from class 1 to class 5. Not only had the trainees to grapple with the content of the curriculum, but also with an interactive methodology hitherto quite unknown to them.
The course was very intensive: six hours per day, for three weeks. Written homework was given every evening to consolidate material covered in class. The trainees could all speak and write English as a second or third language, but none was fluent. My portion of their nine-month course was preceded by an initial intensive six-week spoken English course to ensure access to the ensuing modules. All the trainees were being prepared to teach in what are known in India as ‘low cost private schools’.