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Film 2

Film 2

Teacher: K Sivapriya
School: English medium private school following Steiner principles, Hyderabad, India
Class level: Grade 4
Subject / lesson topic: Maths / Language survey
Languages used: English / Telugu / Hindi / Tamil / Marwari

Description: In this film we visit an English medium private school in Hyderabad which is modelled on the Waldorf Steiner approach. The teachers generally work with the same group of children over several years, moving with them as they progress up through the levels of school. The lessons typically have a relatively slow pace, with a focus on deep learning, reflection and discussion.

In this lesson the teacher – Sivapriya – is building on work done in a previous class where the students were asked which languages they know and are able to use. This culminated in a chart which is displayed on the wall of the classroom, showing the language profile of the group of students. The chart includes green ticks for children who can use a language very well and red ticks where they can use a language to a limited degree. In total there are five languages represented on the chart, but the teacher mentions that some others are also known by a few of the students.

In the filmed lesson, the children and the teacher work together to create a graphic representation of the data in bar chart form. The vast majority of the children come from backgrounds where English is used at home at least to some degree. This means they have very good levels of proficiency in the language, but that they may be less confident – particularly with reading and writing – of their mother tongue (e.g. Telugu, Marwari, etc.). Prior to the filming, the teacher commented that she generally has not used the other community languages during her classes, relying almost exclusively on English for instruction. However, she has recognised the need to celebrate the linguistic diversity in the classroom and to support the development of her learners’ multilingual capacity and the cognitive benefits this can bring.

In this lesson the teacher therefore actively uses the three main languages represented in the class – English, Telugu and Hindi – to discuss the topic. She makes conscious choices about language use, for example when talking about Telugu, she uses Telugu and when talking about the use of Hindi, she uses Hindi. The students also show an interest in this, for example when they ask the teacher to use the Telugu script to write the word ‘Telugu’ on the board, instead of English.

In addition to the children having exposure to a range of community languages – and therefore more closely mirroring the reality of the external context in Hyderabad – there are also opportunities for the teacher to learn more about the languages some of them use at home. For example, some of the Hindi-speaking learners teach her some words she did not know before and she encourages the few Marwari and Tamil speakers to share some phrases with the rest of the class.
In terms of pedagogy, it is clear that the teacher has a strong focus on supporting individual learning and on making links between the current topic with other activities and content that the students have been learning. She also makes a concerted effort to link the work being done with real world application, towards the end of the lesson.