Friday, August 19, 2005


I met Meena about two months ago. And promptly went on a one month vacation. But what I saw of her was pretty impressive - she was hardworking, well mannered, was keen to study, had a very supportive mom who wanted her to go beyond being a housemaid which is what her sisters are.
Back from my vacation, we have finally got down to serious business. Meena is in Class 10 in a tamil medium school. So we started off by going over her English lessons together. Meena picked out her favourite poem 'The Road less travelled' by Robert Frost and read it out like someone reading a ration list. After 5 minutes it became clear that while she understood a lot of the individual words, she could not understand them when put together. Her teacher has instructed her to just mug up the poet's background so that she will get atleast 2 marks for any annotation questions she attempts in her exam paper.Meena however does not understand anything beyond 'This is beautiful' 'She is fat' kind of sentences.
This has been rather depressing. I am now stuck with the issue of how to brush up her English and atleast bring it up to acceptable levels in a short while. Some thinking and chatting with a few friends later, I have decided for now the best strategy would be to just write down answers for all the questions in her text book and let her mug it. That should help with the Board exams. But for the longer term, the first thing is to help her stop being intimidated by words put into sentences. So I shall probably try to speak to her in English more often. Get her to mug up wordlists and try and use them. And see if I can find some simple but light reading material.
If anybody has faced this before, would welcome ideas.

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