In our Spoken English initiative, we conduct online English classes to rural Tamil medium students as they enter high school. Most of them lack even basic English skills, which puts them in a great disadvantage over others when it comes to future academic or professional success for which English skills are becoming essential.
We conducted a pilot program at Government Higher Secondary School, Illupaithoppu, Thanjavur from Jul-Nov 2023. In this program, basic English classes were taught by adult volunteers from USA using a custom curriculum created by experienced teachers from USA. Classes were held Mon-Fri for one hour in the morning (India time) before the school regular hours. Teaching was done with a mixture of both English and Tamil with the intent of reducing the fear of the language and instead making it fun to learn. Teenagers from the USA were also part of the classes, where they assisted by playing "language games" with the India students which reinforced the concepts they learned that day. The teenagers on both side of the world were also encouraged to make small talk with each other where India kids were practicing their English skills where the USA kids were practicing their Tamil.
We are currently exploring the possibility of extending this model to more such schools in 2024.