ENK Level 2: Teaching English in a Multi-level Classroom

Introduction

This post will take you through an overview of how English is taught in a Nali Kali classroom with students at 2 levels – Level 1 and Level 2.

As you already know that the ENK curriculum has 2 segments - Listening and Speaking and Reading and Writing.

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ENK Level 2: Teaching English in a Multi-level Classroom

The Listening and Speaking (L&S) curriculum is thematic, following the same themes as Level 1. It follows the whole class approach along a learning continuum.

The listening and speaking curriculum in both levels focuses on increasing student’s vocabulary and understanding of a new language with a focus on using the language as a means of communication.

The Reading and Writing (R&W) curriculum on the other hand follows a milestone approach that allows each child to move at his/her pace.

In this post, we will first do an overview of the oral English curriculum in Level 1 and Level 2 so that everyone has an idea of how we will progress over the two years.

We will then go on to discuss how to handle Oral English Nali Kali (ENK) in a multi-level setting.

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Listening and Speaking Curriculum in Level 1

The oral classes in grade 1 focus on three main areas. Children learn vocabulary (the words in a language) grammar (the rules of arranging the words into meaningful sentences) and skills that help children to use the language in everyday life - Use of Language (greeting people, asking and answering questions, and obeying instructions).

Listening and Speaking Curriculum in Grade 1

When teaching vocabulary, we focussed on the topics that are covered in the EVS (or maths classes) so that children could be taught the English words for Kannada words they already know. The topics chosen are from EVS, the concepts are also those that concern the child’s immediate environment such
as their body, their family, their neighbourhood, colours, numbers, animals, and transport. Children learned English names for parts of their body and action words for actions that the body can perform, they learned words for family members, words for colours and objects of different colours, the English for numbers from 1-10, today yesterday, and tomorrow and names of common animals and their sounds as well names of common vehicles and where they move.


Grammar rules for changing words from singular to plural and the words that are used such as 'this', 'these', 'is' & 'are' when using singular and plural, use of pronouns for depicting gender ('he', 'she' and 'it') and showing possession such as “his and her”.

Skills in following instructions are taught through TPR exercises and children learn to actively follow about 40 single word or phrase instructions. They learn to ask and answer simple questions about themselves and greet each other as well as older people through taking part in conversation circles. Activities such as rhymes and language games help to reinforce vocabulary grammar and the skills of understanding commands and carrying on a conversation.

Listening and Speaking Curriculum in Level 2

Listening and Speaking Curriculum in Grade 2

1. Oral work in level 2 builds on the vocabulary and grammar taught in Level 1, where children build on the vocabulary, they have learned in Level 1.

2. Grammar concepts continue with tenses, plural forms, possessive words, and use of singular and plural. Ordinal Words ('next', 'last', 'fifth', etc), words used for comparing like 'fast' and 'faster', prepositions or words that show position like 'over' 'under', etc are now added to the grammar concepts.

3. Skills in communication focus on double commands and more complex sentences which help children to listen, comprehend the meaning and respond with action or words.

4. Stories continue from where they left off in grade 1 and carry the plot further allowing children to understand more words and answer in longer sentences.

Managing a Multi-level Class in an Oral Classroom

Managing a Multi-level Class in an Oral Classroom

The Nali Kali has a system to manage the reading and writing curriculum in a multigrade situation which is based on a grouping system based on the differential amount of teacher time the teacher spends with students.

Oral activities require the teacher to give her attention to all students and in year 2 these students are at 2 levels.

A multigrade system is an advantage in an oral program as a lot of the learning is through imitation and absorption. So just as younger children in a family learn from watching older siblings younger classes learn by watching, imitating, and absorbing from older students. 

In year 1 all children in the Nali Kali classes will be at Level 1 and the teacher will implement the steps given above with the whole class. In year 2 the teacher will have children at 2 levels. The fresh entrants into grade 1 will be in Level 1 and children in grades 2 and 3 will be in Level 2.

The L&S activity in ENK is a whole class activity. Classroom management does not pose a problem when all three grades are in level I, (as in year 1). When conducting a whole class activity, the teacher treats all 3 classes as Level 1. However, in year 2 of the ENK, the teacher will have to deal with 2 sets of children. Though the teacher will handle two classes, the amount of time she has at her disposal is the same.

Level 2 curriculum has been developed keeping this situation in mind. Conversations, rhymes, stories, and conversations follow a natural sequence. This has the following advantages:

  • Students at 2 levels serve as leaders and models for younger children who learn from older children.
  • Students in Level 2 get a chance to revise what they have learned the previous year when younger ones are taught.
  • Students at Level 1 get a head start for level 2 as they hear the concepts in Level 1.
  • A bigger class lends more fun and enthusiasm to the class.

Important Points to Remember When Working in the Multi-level Class

1. Do not allow level 2 children to take over the class meant for younger children. Ensure that they allow young ones to answer.

2. Use less and less of the native language with Level 2 children.

3. Do not waste time repeating instructions. Level II students are familiar with the instructions and hear them again as you explain the activity to Level I.

4. When conducting Level 2 activities, focus on level II students, but do not stop Level 1 students from participating. Do not waste time on seating the younger children or minding them. Your focus should be on Level 2 students.


Listening and Speaking Curriculum - the learning continuum

Listening and Speaking Curriculum - the learning continuum
Learning Continuum

The ENK curriculum has been drawn up keeping the multigrade situation in mind. It also keeps in mind that in the initial years' teachers will be hesitant to use the language.

Since the oral program is a whole class activity, the curriculum is arranged in a 3-year continuum to suit the multilevel and multi-levelled classroom where each activity is arranged in a levelled manner which allows older children to revise what they have already learned, while the younger children are prepared for concepts that will follow in future levels. This is known as the learning continuum.

Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom

Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom
Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom

In level 2, children learn to respond to around 40 two-step commands in English (e.g. Take two steps and stop or Open your bag and pull out the book). As you can see, these commands expect the student to perform two tasks one after the other.  The student, therefore, has to listen carefully before acting on the command.

Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom - the learning continuum

Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom - the learning continuum

So, how does the teacher manage children at 2 levels?
  • The teacher begins with one stage commands like “stand up, sit down, walk stop and turn around” with all children, Level 1 and Level 2. 
  • The teacher’s focus should be on Level 1 students. 
  • To ensure this the class can be divided into 2 groups based on levels so that older children can take part but younger students pay attention to the teacher.
  • After 20 minutes, the teacher shifts her focus to Level 2 students and gives them the two-stage commands. The same steps are followed as was done for Level 1.
  • If students of Level 1 want to take part in the activity, she does not stop them. She Lets them take part in the activity but focuses her attention on Level 2.

Teaching TPR in a Multi-level Classroom - do's and don'ts

  • Do not allow grade 2 children to take over the class meant for younger children. Ensure that they allow young ones to answer
  • Use, less and less of the native language with Level 2 children.
  • Do not waste time repeating instructions. Grade II children are familiar with the instructions and hear them again as you explain the activity to grade I, students. 
  • During training, on the oral language, we will devote some time in each segment to explain how you can manage a multigrade class. Follow these instructions.

Teaching Rhymes in a Multi-level Classroom

Rhymes in ENK are based on themes and reinforce topics known to children. They also follow a continuum that makes classroom transactions easy for the teacher. Just as in the other segments, the first 20 minutes to recite rhymes with students of Level 1.

Once the teacher is done with the rhyme for Level 1 students, he /she takes out the rhyme card of Level 2 students and follows the same steps for the next 20 minutes.

Follow the instructions given in the teacher card. Please remember that explaining the meaning of the rhyme and accompanying the rhyme with appropriate actions is as important as saying the rhyme.

Teaching Rhymes in a Multi-level Classroom
Rhymes in Level 1 and 2

As the rhyme at Level 2 is a continuum of the rhyme at Level 1, the shift from Level 1 to Level 2 is seamless and children enjoy the activity. There’s only a slight variation in the rhyme across the grades. In a few themes, the rhymes are different but since the theme is the same, children are able to connect to the rhyme.

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Teaching Rhymes in a Multi-level Classroom - do's and don'ts

Teaching Rhymes in a Multi-level Classroom - do's and don'ts
Do's and Don'ts of Rhymes

During the rhyme session, it is possible for older students to take part in the recitation. Do not stop them. Stay focussed on Level 1 students and continue with the recitation. Similarly, do not stop students at level 1 if they repeat after you when you are dealing with Level 2 students.

Avoid singing the rhyme as children are still learning the language and find it difficult to focus on both the words and the tune.

In all cases explain the meaning of the rhyme and do the action simultaneously so children get to hear the translation and see the action together.

Actions must match the word meanings so that children can match words to action.

Teaching Conversation Circle in a Multi-level Classroom

Teaching Conversation Circle in a Multi-level Classroom

When there are students at 2 learning levels in the classroom, the teacher begins with the conversation circle where the questions for Level 1 are introduced and the steps followed by all the children. To save time, the children are then grouped into 2 circles with the older children in the outside circle and the younger group in the inner circle. The pairs formed by the inner and outer circle conduct the conversation exchange simultaneously several times, so that younger children get the required practice.

Teaching Conversation Circle in a Multi-level Classroom

Once this is done the teacher gets the Level 2 children aside and introduces the greetings in English and explains their meaning and their appropriate usage. For example: When friends and strangers meet and greet, they say “Hello I am _________ “Hi I am _________ “ The teacher then demonstrates the greetings and ensures that it is used every day at the beginning of the class and all students learn to greet using “hello” and “hi”. 

Next, the teacher practices the question and answer in English with all the Level 2 students with the Level 1 children listening in. Students practice the question and answer routine around the circle as many times as necessary. Younger students can be allowed to join in after they have heard it many times.

Conversation Circle - do's and don'ts

  • Be very clear and articulate and begin with the mother tongue so that children understand what is being asked and answered.
  • Repeat the Q&A sequences a number of times before starting on the circle.
  • As far as possible accompany the questions with actions.
  • When children are not sure they will tend to mumble or eat some of the words. Help these children by repeating the sentences word by word.
  • Make sure that you move around the group and support children who are not able to say.
  • Sometimes other children get impatient and go ahead with the circle forcing the shy child to keep quiet – do not let this happen. Hold the game till the child is able to say the phrases.
  • Remember that children often need to hear words and phrases many times before they feel ready to produce them themselves, so do not be discouraged if children take time to initiate the conversation.

Language Games

How are language games conducted in class for level 2 students?

When the class contains students at 2 levels playing a language game it is often a good idea to have the older children of level 2 play the game first and allow the younger children to watch. This allows them to understand the rules simply by watching and reduces the need to give elaborate instructions.
 
In certain games such as 'Fire on the Mountain' or 'Passing the Parcel' all children participate. Here specific responsibilities must be assigned e.g. an older child from Level 2 takes on the responsibility of forming a family (all children hold a card specifying a family member). In other cases when playing passing the parcel, the teacher must make sure to stop the clapping only when the parcel is with a child of the “active group” i.e. when the child is in the level that is playing the game.

Story-Telling

Storytelling is one of the key activities in oral English because it acts as the bridge between oral language and reading and writing. Students hear a continuous body of text for the first time when the story is read out to them. A common complaint about English teaching is that children learn words like “A for apple and B for bat “ without context. The story places the words that students learn in R&W in a context (e.g., cat cot pot). The students should hear the story during or before the letters and words are introduced.

How is Story narrated with students at Level 1 and Level 2 in the classroom?

1. The teacher follows all the steps given in the story card and uses the first 15- 20 minutes to narrate the story to students of Level 1 and conduct the activity as explained in the teacher card.

2. Once the teacher is done with the story for Level 1 students, he /she takes out the story card of Level 2 students and follows the same steps as in the teacher card for the next 20 minutes.

3. As the story at Level 2 is a continuum of the story at Level 1, the shift from level to level is seamless and children enjoy the activity.

Time Management in the Multi-level Classroom

Young children aged 3-8 years have a short attention span and their attention tends to wander after about 15-20 minutes. All early childhood educators recommend a) periods of instruction should last only 15-20 minutes and b) the timetable should alternate between active and passive activities.

The second finding of various research studies is that young children need constant repetition to remember what they have been taught. Often when tested students tend to forget what they have studied earlier in the year.

Handling the multigrade class keeps both the above factors in mind and suggests how to create an optimum classroom environment that is conducive to learning. Optimally a multigrade ENK should be allotted 90 with 50 minutes for oral English and 40 minutes for reading and writing.


However, if this is not possible then the 80-minute class should be divided as follows:

Time Management in the Multi-level Classroom
Time Management in ENK Multi-level Classroom

Summary

  • In the 2nd year of Nali Kali English, the fresh entrants will be in Level 1 and the older children will be in level 2.
  • In all the six segments of the L& S curriculum, the learning continuum allows older children to revise what they have already learned, while the younger children are prepared for concepts that will follow in future levels.
  • All instructions are given in the teacher cards.
  • The curriculum tends to be prescriptive as it deals with multiple classes and segments are designed to form a continuum which makes it easier for the students and the teachers e.g. rhymes have a common refrain –”this is the way i…” eiah eian oh” “what do you see?” etc.
  • Stories have a continuum from Level 1-3 and are a vehicle for bridging oral and R&W and are specifically designed to introduce letters and words of R&W in a context.
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Credits: Samagra Shikshana Karnataka and UNICEF{alertInfo}
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