Friday, February 24, 2006


The last but one weekend when I meet Meena our characteristic 'Ok Now we shall do English exercises' routine got changed. Instead she anxiously asked me if I can help out with her English exam paper. Her Class X board exams are just round the corner and her English teacher had given her a guide book and enough material to answer some of the questions but not all. So putting aside the usual texts, we sat down to tackle the English book. At the end of the hour we had not done any English but had a conversation about how to draw up schedules for revision, what subjects to focus on and a general confidence booster on how she was quite bright.
The last weekend however we got down to business. I had mentioned earlier that Meena's English text books speak a language that is far above her current vocabulary. But now having decided to prepare with a focus entirely on the exam, we started working on her guide books. Meena has a good memory and can reel off answers. The problem was to connect the correct answers to the questions. So I made her translate each individual word in her questions into Tamil and then see if she could make some sense. In a little while she was actually understanding the questions. And I felt really proud. Becuase three months ago she would not have been able to figure out what words like 'what' 'is' 'for' and 'then' meant. But now her basics had brought her to a level where she could roughly make out what was being asked. Finally all the effort she and I had put in was begining to show (Ok- I am unabashedly taking credit too. But believe me when you have never done this before it is a wonderful feeling to know that you have made a slight difference). When I embarked on this exercise of teaching her English, I did not know where this was leading us both. But seeing proof of it has given both of us a much needed boost.
Next week of course we are planning to tackle her Science and Social studies text books. They are both in Tamil and I am probably going to be of little use to her since her Tamil is of a much higher standard than mine. But somehow both us have just got that little bit of faith that there is some difference both of us can make together.