A Page From My 2020 Diary
Experiences Of Teaching Kannada Online
Shall We Learn To Speak Kannada?
Kannaḍa Mātanāḍalu Kaliyōṇave?
The year 2020 can be called the mother of learning. Most of us have learnt something new – be it a skill, hobby, craft, language or even adapting to a new way of life. From the numerous courses offered online, I have upgraded my skills and knowledge. I freelance as a guest faculty at a college and this year I have explored new methods of online teaching to make the classes more interesting.
While online learning and teaching have their own advantages of saving on time, zero traffic woes, ability to multi-task etc., there are some instances when you sorely miss face-to-face interactions. But the last year has been about making changes, adapting to a new way of life and making the most of the resources available. So when some friends and neighbors in the apartment I live in wanted to learn the local language (Kannada), I volunteered to help them through an online platform.
Though born a Tamilian, I have been raised in Bangalore and have lived all of my 42 years in the city. I have a deep connection and a sense of belonging with the local culture, people and language. So I was very pleased that I could help friends and fellow residents learn to speak Kannada – the language of my State and of Namma Bengaluru. This was not the first time I have taught Kannada; a couple of years back a few of us Kannada speaking residents had run a 6-month program to teach spoken Kannada on a voluntary basis to the other residents. In fact, this was run as part of the charity committee program, and any voluntary fees paid were taken as a donation to buy material for the literacy drive that was also parallelly run to teach support staff basic English. The spoken Kannada drive was conducted via face-to-face sessions at the clubhouse and it was very well received and we had a lot of fun conducting the classes. This experience encouraged me to now independently explore the current online opportunity of teaching spoken Kannada.
We chose the auspicious occasion of Vijayadashami to kick start our classes on the Zoom platform, keeping in mind the COVID-19 protocols of not meeting. We chose a day & time convenient to most participants and as of now we have completed 3 months of the classes, with a few breaks in between due to the festivals. We are a lively and diverse group with the oldest close to 65 years and the youngest just getting into a professional course in a college. Though we have lived in the same complex, some of us have never met each other. But this did not hamper our interactions. In fact the sessions provide some enjoyment when different people share their views of how a word is pronounced or what a certain word means in their language. Of course, the initial attempts at sentence formation resulted in some hilarious bloopers as well. However, though the sessions were done through video call, there were some challenges we faced like connectivity, interaction, correcting pronunciation etc. Since this is a spoken language class and mainly created to help ease communication with the local residents, helpers or businesses I feel face-to-face interactive sessions would be very helpful in the learning process. So, with the situation slowly easing out we plan to meet to master the speech and pronunciation too as the initial classes have helped set the basics of the language.
Here are a few tips for online teaching that I as a facilitator find useful
- Whichever online platform you choose, learn how it works beforehand to avoid glitches during the session
- Choose a well-lit and comfortable space with good connectivity so that you can concentrate on the session and are not disturbed or distracted
- Put out rules of the session (if any) so that you set the tone for the classes and everyone values the others’ time
- Get creative which teaching. Make the sessions more lively, interactive and filled with activities as otherwise, it is easy to be diverted in an online session
- Understand the shortcomings and work around those to ensure everyone participates
- Record your sessions (with permission) so that it is available for reference at a later time. Alternately, you can also create study material and share it
Have you taught or learnt anything new recently? What were your experiences? Do you have any other tips that could help others? I would love to hear from you….do write to me in the comment below.