Category Archives: Teach India

Teach India: Over!!??

I was super excited about the teaching  English sessions organized by the Kotak Education Foundation (KEF)….the first few weeks were good…and then I think the NGO lost control somewhere…Volunteers would come…but the kids did not turn up…kids would come volunteers would not come….sessions were held sporadically and there was no continuity…

For the last four/five weeks I would get a message every Friday telling me that there was no session this week and we will inform you of progress and this week(appreciate that they were organized enough to send a message about the sessions being cancelled!) but this week I get a message saying that the sessions are over…!

Boom….so abrubt….just an e-mail saying its over….

Overall  the entire program very badly organized and managed….I don’t know who is responsible…Times Group which came up with the campaign or Kotak Education Foundation who we as volunteers were assigned to and they could not effectively leverage and utilize the resources that they got…

Overall a disappointment…Wish Teach India Campaign was better handled…Anyways…now that it is officially over…I can move on and search for my next volunteering activity and not be hung up and wait for a message  from KEF updates vey week…

Would love to hear views and experiences of any other people who were a part of Teach India/Kotak Education Foundation…



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Teach India: Week 9

After a hiatus of almost over a month I finally had my teach India session today with the kids…

The NGO tried to get better organized and gave a set of questions and structure to the entire session…..well since I am not a structured person…I could not particularly follow the structure and I had my own little agenda with the kids…and my agenda was to “Have Fun! And learn some English in the process.

I think my kids like me…. And that is cause I try to ensure they have fun and I attempt to make them feel special about sitting with me for a session..!

My trick is that I always take my kids for a walk after about 15- 20 minutes of the session….and  because this small thing…all other kids sitting in the hall envy my kids….they wonder what do these people go out and do and they apparently have internal conversations about it!

My first session was ok types….for some reason I did not take the girls for a walk…

Second session was good….took the girls for a walk… and taught them English while walking around and looking at things… I then made them sit in the car…taught them English words and sentences around the car…and spend the rest of the session repeating what we learnt! This was overall the best session….and I think it was quite productive!

Third Session was again ok types…there were less children and I got some new kids….with new kids…it takes some time to break the ice…and inherently if they are shy types…but overall  I managed to break the ice…lets see if the same set of kids comeback next week..

PS: I am gonna miss the session next weekL


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Teach India – Week 8

If anyone is by any chance actually following my posts you would notice I have skipped “Teach India -Week 7”. This is cause I missed the session as I was tied up with something else…however it was not a teaching session that I missed but a quiz session for the kids so I am not feeling too bad.
I had an interesting session this week and finally got time to talk to other volunteers and made some friends! The sad part is that we would have our next session after a month and a half!! 😦
Overall the program by Kotak Foundation to teach English individually to children is a very nice but I am not sure if it is very effective and the main reason for it is lack of continuity. The program would have been much more effective if we had maintained continuity of talking/teaching them each week.
I don’t know how effective it has been but I have sure had fun and so have the kids!
So what was the session like this week…??

I had three hours of teaching and each hour was different and a new challenges
Session 1

I decided I would make the kids do a play in English. This would be fun and they would learn to talk.
Mom got me some fairy tale books and I decided to use them and make my kids do a play on one of the stories.
We used “The Three Little Pigs” story and had some fun with it. We read the story for sometime, then did the play in Marathi and then did the English version of it. It worked well but not as well as I would have liked it to cause the English levels of the kids was way too below par and it was difficult for them to do it. Also my this batch has 4 girls who are by and large quite shy and reserved.
Overall an interesting session. To end the session we actually went to an empty classroom and enacted the play where no one was looking so the girls did not get to conscious and shy!
Session 2
This batch is always very enthusiastic. This time also I had a big group of about 10 kids who wanted to sit with me and the Kotak volunteers came and picked up all the kids who normally do not sit with and made them go and stand and then allocated them to other volunteers! I finally had my regular group of 5 kids in this session! One of the volunteers asks me… “what do you do!? The kids seem to love you!” 🙂 ( I was obviously quite flattered with her questions!)
Anyways I finally started the session again….with the idea of reading a story and doing a play. So I handed overall the books I had to the kids and told them to decide which story they wanted to read and enact and they choose a Noddybook called “ Bumpy Dog decides to help”
We started…..and the session was going well….we were reading and relating the words and sentences to things in day to day life and saying different versions of the same sentence. Overall the kids seem quite involved and interested.
Suddenly one of the girls says…”Teacher Maaja nahi aa raha…bore ho raha hai” . I was quite taken aback! I though the session was going well and I am normally good at reading the body language of the kids so I wondering how I was so off the mark this time!

I asked the other 4 kids…if they were getting bored and luckily they said no …but I still had a child here who said this was booring! So I had to do something about it…so I asked the kids if we could change the book and let to girl who was getting bored star reading the new story. They hesitantly agreed…

And suddenly this girl started crying!!! I was like oh my god! What is happening here! What did I do!!
All the other kids were looking at each other and looking at me….I kept asking her what happned…with no response. Then one of the kids told me she has lost her Mamaji recently and so she is very upset with that. Now I at least knew the reason…but did not have any clue on what was the best thing to do!
Then One of the kotak volunteers saw her crying and suggested I take her for a walk and talk to her alone and see if she wants to open up..we went out sat on the school steps…spoke for a few minutes, she wiped her tears and said lets go back and sit with the rest of the children.
We did a few more sentences and this girl started crying again. She so wanted to put on a brave font and act happy and not cry but the poor kid was feeling so sad
This is when I told the kids my funda of what I do when I am sad…I told them it is absolutely ok to cry…I do it…everyone does it …it makes you feel better but after you have finished crying you have to smile and act happy and you will automatically feel happy!
After this I decided to take them to and empty classroom and show them how this funda works and to put it in practice
I taught them the song “If you are happy and you know it clap your hands” we sang we danced, we clapped we jumped we hugged, snapped our fingers…and we laughed!
We basically had a nice time….we played “ringa-ringa roses” 🙂 Musical chairs..basically English was out of the window for this session…but we had a blast and the girl was smiling at the end of it and that is what matters!!
I was exhausted…but the kids were all full of energy and could go on jumping some more…luckily the time was up and they had to go home!

Session 3
I was exhausted and my voice was hoarse singing the songs on the top of my voice and dancing!

2/5 kids came in for this session.
I started with my story books and these girls also choose a book to read. We were 10 mins into the session and then the kotak volunteer came and said since we have less students and more volunteers we would all get into a common circle and play something together.
I was quite glad…I had half a mind to put my kids in the circle and let them handle the session and disappear! So I told them go sit in the circle…this didi will tell you what to do and I took a back seat..
Everyone was getting into a circle…there was confusion on what game we should play…what should we do…..Lots of idea’s were thrown around and then someone came up with an idea….let us play a story telling game…..
I though it was the most sensible idea among the others that were floating around…
And somehow from being in the fringes deciding to disappear….i was there in the center…trying to conduct the story telling game with evey person in the circle telling one sentence to take the story forward!
Well eventually we played the “story telling game” the “describe me game” and “the introduce yourself” game with about 30 students and volanteers who were present there!
I think it worked out well…Could it have been better?…yes…could have done better if we were planned…everything that we did was extempore…
I personally quite enjoyed it….I think I love my place in the center of an audience where I have to do something to involve the audience and ensure they have fun! I should really consider something on these lines as profession…I am sure I will excel at it! (Actually I hope other had as much fun as I did…I hope they did)
Pont to Ponder : “Fun & Games” and “People” are two important themes in my life. I need to find a vocation which helps me to merge the two…


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Teach India : Week 6

Finally had a good session with the kids after a 4 week break!

I had almost forgotten what it is like to go there and go there and teach….1 month is a very long time!I was honestly quite lazy to go on a Saturday afternoon and I so wanted o sleep but I pulled myself up cause I had committed I would be there and went for the session and it was totally worth it.

I had a total of 15 kids today over various sessions!! It was good fun..

I reached late for my first session (was plain lazy and a lil disappointed with the last time’s session).One of my kiddo’s spotted me and I pulled him out of the session he was in and took him for a walk. We went to the school library and I spotted the child craft books and world books!! So we picked up a book on activities and sat and read it and saw the pictures. The session went off well. This child had come to the library numerous times earlier but had never bothered to look at those books.
I was quite unprepared for this session and I though cool I found my activity for the day…I will bring all the kids to the library and help them to explore the place and make friends with the books…But oh-ho… suddenly I see the Librarian getting up and closing the window and he informs me “Saturday the library closes half day”. There goes my impromto ‘planned’ activity out of the closed window! Now what!? So I asked the Librarian If I could borrow one of the child craft books…surprisingly he agreed! I picked up a Child Craft book “Celebrations” and we had many discussions on different celebrations around the world!

My second session with the kids was pretty good…I had two of my old children and three new ones! We went for a walk in the school…we learnt new words…we played the ‘shopping’ role play…In the middle of the session one of the new kids was being called away by one of the Kotak staff for something and she refused to go! She went with him only after he assured her that she could come back and continue the session!! This was by and large my best session of the day!

The third session started off wonderfully…I was sitting and waiting for my kiddos to come…my 4 bacchus came with a whole lot of their other friends!! So it was me and almost 20 kids around me …each of them saying “teacher humko aapke saat baitna hai!!” Telling me shiyari’s doing full TP! What a chaos! But honestly I quite liked it…who does not like to be popular..!! Finally the Kotak Staff had to intervene and assign the kids to the other volunteers and I was left with my original set of 4! After all the excitement…the session was a big popat!…It was quite drab…after all no matter what you do…the energy levels with 20 kids vis a vis 4 kids would be different…and I was not really prepared!
We did a whole lot of activities…but the kids with another volunteer seemed to be having more fun! The official session ended…and I again had all the kids surrounding me again…and we had a shiyari session with me trying to recollect some old ones I knew as a kid!
Here is a new one I learnt from the kidoo’s today

“Dus aur Dus Jodo to Bees banta hai”
“Dus aur Dus Jodo to Bees banta hai”
“Hoot Aur Hoot Jodo to Kiss banta hai”

Giggles..giggles…giggles from all the kiddos..and then it was time for this batch to go!

The last session was also interesting….I had 5 new girls who were coming for the first time. I was no longer nervous like I was in my first day of teaching and the session was smooth and fun!
I think I quite love teaching…It is extremely challenging to keep kids engaged…and it is soo easy to make out when they are bored! I hope we have a session next week…it would be nice to have some continuity!!


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Teach India : Week 5 – A Disappointment…:-(

I went all enthused for the Teach India session today after two weeks of holidays (Rakhee /Janamastmi Saturdays) only to be disappointed.
There was some program going on in school and barely any children turned up. So today there were more volunteers than students!!
Since I did not have any students for my session, I decided to make use of my time and see how the others were teaching be a silent spectator and get some ideas. I did get some idea’s from other people and I also realized that I was doing a decent job with the kids!

Some idea’s I picked from other which I plan to use with my kiddo’s next week…

1. Play the shopping game- A role play in which one of them is the shopkeeper and the other a customer. This works well especially if you have girl students.
2. Read the news paper with the kids … One of the volunteers was reading the news paper his kids…I this can be used effectivly to make conversation if it is made into a game!
3. Use activity books like find the word in the maze, easy crosswords etc
4. Read out a story to the kids.


Being a silent spectator is not my natural style I was quite bored and came back home in an hour and slept!

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Teach India : Week 4

Last Saturday was my 4th week of teaching the children. I took three batches of children instead of the normal two batches! I had a total of 9 children this week.
Batch 1- Soheil and Rupesh
Soheil is a very serious type of a student and says he does not watch television/movies. Rupesh is very quite and shy. Soheil came about half an hour late for the session. Making conversation with Rupesh alone was not too easy. I did a rainy day picture activity with him. The activity was basically to show them a picture and ask them to tell you about everything they see in the picture. This helps to improve their vocabalry
My initial sessions, I kept telling my kiddo’s I am not your teacher and I am a friend who has come to talk to you’ll. This week Soheil got me a friendship band and tied it for me. It was such a cute gesture.
Batch 2- Komal and Rashmi
I had missed my last session with them but the bond was still there. I did the same Rainy day picture activity with them that I did with my earlier batch. The girls then wanted to go for a walk as the rest of their friends who were not a part of this program were having a break at school. So the three of us went for a walk. They introduced me to their friends in school and had a lot of questions to ask me when we were out walking. But all their questions were in Hindi/Marathi and I would tell them I will answer only if they ask me in English! I feel the kids open up so much in an informal setting.

Batch 3- Dipika, Kshitija, Pooja, Namrata, Abijit
This was a fun session! I think 4- 5 kids who are at the same level are fun to deal with at the same time. They get the personal attention and yet there is scope for having fun on the table! We revised what we did in the last session and then went on to do other activities.
There was only one boy in this group, who is normally not a part of this group so we had a nice time pulling his leg. I even got to know about their class politics!
For the first time I gave these kids some homework….I have told them to write at least one thing in a day for which they do not know the English word and when we meet after 15 days, they were to come back with all the words they have written! Lets see if it words.
Another thing that I did with these kids was that I told them to write all the new words we are learning. Their recall was better if they have written the words.
Will write more latter! Overall an interesting, fun and fulfilling session!


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Volunteering experience: Teach India!

“Me Shaaret Marathi Sheekli…pan mala marati bolut yeat nahi”
“I learnt Marathi in school but I cannot really speak the language!”
Although Marati is the local language…not knowing Marathi has not hampered my progress in life…but if I did not know English…chances are that I would not be standing here as a part of Tata Consultancy services…giving a speech at the toastmasters club.
But Why am I standing here and telling you this?
Because I have spent the last few weekends with kids who are studying English in school but they don’t really understand and speak the language they are in the same position as me but unfortunately not knowing English will put them at a disadvantage. When these kids grow up and go out in the world to be employed chances are their pay package would half of their English speaking counter parts even though they would be as smart and knowledgeable.. I know its not fair but it’s the truth.
The Teach India Campaign launched by the Times of India group made me get in touch with these children and I got my change to try and make a difference! In the next few minutes… I am going to share my experiences as a part of a campaign I registered on the teach India web-site and my assignment was to teach Spoken English to Marati medium students. Well I can speak English but to teach spoken English…umm….I was not too sure how that was suppose to be done! Thank God they were planning on an orientation program;but the only thing they told us as a part of the orientation is that you will have two children.and you need to do is give them a conducive environment to speak English! There is no method use your instinct….teach the child like you would teach your own children your mother language!And I though to myself…what instinct!!!! I don’t think I have a instinct for teaching!! but what the hell…since I was here on a Saturday afternoon.I might as well go ahead with it.
Believe me it was a little scary to start off with. Although I am normally great at finding commonalities and making small talk with strangers but this was different I had to talk to the child for one hour!! And what would I find common with a 13 year old child from a completely different socio- economic background…..60 minutes….3,600 seconds…seemed like a very very long time. But I had to act confident I was the teacher after all the kids walked into the hall….and two little boys..Soheil and Rupesh came and sat with me.They were nervous and so was I it was difficult to decide who was more apprehensive we made small talk…what is your name…..where do you stay…which class are you in… know the basics… family…school… friends…10 minutes or 600 seconds would have passed…now what next….????One part of me was listing to their answers which by the way were in monosyllaals the other part was thinking what next to say should I talk about books? Nah! they would not read… suddenly though movies…..! everybody watches movies….and that would give me lot to talk about…after all there are so many bollywood movies and stars I though I have found the perfect topic to make conversation so I asked the boys which is your favorite movie.and Soheil promptly answered…”hum TV nahi dheekte”! There I was at a loss again! The kids started fidgeting on their chairs….and I was so uncomfortable I looking at my watch .. had 45 minutes more to go!!
Then an idea struck me and I told the kids will you show me your school…come lets go for a walk….and their eyes lit up! Wow here is a “teacher” who is taking them for a walk around school instead to sitting in class…and that is when I managed to break the ice! We walked around school….they showed me things….they told me what it was called in Marathi..I told them what it was in English…they repeated the English word….i repeated the Marathi word!! All of us learnt something…..and it was a wonderful experience!
That was session 1….I have had three subsequent Saturday afternoon sessions with them…and believe me each one has been extremely satisfying and challenging… and I can actually see the difference…it may not be very significant…but my kiddo’s have taken small baby steps in becoming more confident in attempting to talk in English…..the first session they were talking in monosyllables….now they are attempting to talk in sentences….the grammar may be all wrong….but slowly and surely they are getting better.. And there is so much for me to learn in the process…how to keep 13 year olds entertained and also teach them in the process requires a whole lot of creativity by itself!

I don’t know if this “Teach India campaign” will actually make a major difference….or will it be just be a publicity stunt by the times group to win awards for the best campaign….but I know I done my little bit to help to change a childs life!

To conclude I would like to tell all you people sitting in the may not be part of the Teach India Campaign”… but if you look around you…you will find many people you can teach….your servants kids…the TCS Maitri teaching programs….it is an effort…it is scary….but at the same time it is extremely satisfying and enriching!
This was a speech i gave at the toastmasters. It is my project 2 speech….did not go too well but I managed to clear the round! Lesson learn’t : Don’t be too dramatic while speaking…this is not theatre! Be natural…talk to the audience…and don’t try and give a performance!


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