Home Register Members Articles Events Message Board Contact Us

Uma Maheshwari Chimirala


View Profile

Title: Learning to Read: Training My ESL Learners.

Author: Chimirala Uma Maheshwari

Bio-Data: I’m the Lead Mentor/Trainer at Rajiv Gandhi University - International Institute of Information technology, A.P-India. I’ve been a teacher for the past 11 years. My areas of interest are Learner Autonomy and Teacher Autonomy, Teacher Training and Action Research in the classroom. I am passionate about my work with my learners.

Acknowledgments: I thank my colleague Prathap who helped me with the technical work, my students who went through the learning process along with me and my husband for the support extended.

Menu Introduction:

Learner Particulars: Who is the learner?
Learner Problems and Needs
Symptoms of Teacher Dependency
Need for Learner Training
Learner Training-The Rationale
Learner Training – Theoretical Support
Learner training in the present scenario
Learner training :The Objectives
Stage 1: The Learner and Teacher Activities
Strategy Training in Action
The Outcome of Stage 1
Stage 2: Learning to Read
Stage2:Word-Attacking in Action
Appendix 1
Appendix 2
Appendix 3

Anything that children should do and can do and we do for them takes away an opportunity to learn responsibility.-Gene Bedley Let me introduce you to an Indian ESL classroom. A Typical State-run-Indian Classroom consists of a teacher, students-usually a number around 50 seated on the benches, a blackboard and chalk to write and the all-important textbook. The teacher here is the giver of knowledge and the student a mute ‘receiver’ of the same. It is the text and the syllabus that the teacher has to ‘cover’ that matters. His task is to "fill" the students with the contents of his narration—content- for the teacher English is a subject and not a language. As Paulo Frairre says-Education is suffering from narration sickness’. With the teacher as the knowledge giver, the students tend to memorize mechanically the narrated content. Worse still, it turns them into "containers," into "receptacles" to be "filled" by the teacher. The more completely he fills the receptacles, the better a teacher he is. The more meekly the receptacles permit themselves to be filled, the better students they are. The more they absorb the better they perform in the exams, the happier is everybody-students, teacher, school management, last but not the least the parents. With this backdrop in mind, the present study is an action research born out of the concern the teacher has for her struggling learners when they were admitted from the state-run-government-schools into the Rajiv Gandhi University of Knowledge Technologies which has been established to provide “gifted rural youth” with state-of-the -art-education. Information regarding the learners, their backgrounds, previous classroom and learning experience are based on the responses and findings of a Questionnaire that the learners had answered.

Learner Particulars: Who is the learner?
They are the best students of the Zillah Parishad High Schools (state- run –public schools) and have been termed as "gifted-rural students” since they have scored the highest in their Class-X Examinations conducted by The Board of Secondary Examination, Andhra Pradesh-India(the students have scored more than 540 out of 600 marks).The learners who are predominantly from a regional medium background (Telugu-their L1) have learnt English as their 2nd or 3rd language for a period of 7years and are 16 to 17 years old. Their purpose for learning English has been only for Examinations. So, they used the 3R’s- Read, Remember and Reproduce the question and answers, meanings, fill in the blanks etc in the answer script. The need to use the target language inside the classroom was never created and outside the classroom never existed due to their rural setting. They had a Teacher-Fronted Class, where they were according to Frairre ‘mute spectators’

Learner Problems and Needs
Being from a rural background, the learners had little opportunity to use the target language. Hence when they first encountered their core subjects in their new class environment at this institute- they were perplexed and found themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. Unable to read and understand/comprehend on their own they were under constant pressure (earlier all their subjects were in the regional medium i.e. in Telugu). They were literally struggling. Their core subjects offered a level of linguistic complexity in terms of technical jargon on one side and on the other side they had to study the class XI NCERT textbooks of English which presumed an advanced learner who -

  • was proficient in the target language.
  • had already mastered the basic structures.
  • was a learner who had acquired the ability to use the structures in various social and pedagogic situations.
  • was equipped with strategies that help the learner learn.

The teacher-researcher observed that her learners were very aware that they could not speak or write or read (and understand what they read) English despite being the top scorers in their schools (many had a score between 80-90 marks out of 100) and that now they will have to read and write all their "core subjects" (Mathematics, Physics and Chemistry) in English. Unable to read and comprehend the text on their own they were completely withdrawn.

Symptoms of Teacher Dependency
The teacher observed the over-dependence of her students on the teacher for comprehending every line of the text.

  • They expected every word to be translated into their mother tongue
  • They constantly referred to the dictionary.
  • They were unwilling to read on their own.
  • They expected the teacher to explain the lesson word by word.
  • They were unwilling to speak in the target language
  • They needed their teachers to explain all the scientific concepts in their mother tongue.
  • They were stuck with every new word they came across in the text.

Besides this, what really troubled the teacher was, her learners' attitude towards the language and language learning; their low-self esteem; their belief that English is only for scoring marks in the exam and hence its influence- the back wash or the wash back effect . The teacher realized that their attitude along with their low linguistic levels was impeding the language growth of the target language. This led her to probe the situation and explore the possibilities of putting her learners on the path of autonomous learning so that, they become learners, maybe for life.

Need for Learner Training
In order to help the learners the learner-training slot was planned. A Remedial Course was included for a period of three months as an attempt to bridge the gap in the “built- in” syllabus of the student with the teacher’s syllabus. The remedial course served as an input to initiate the language learning process. As Corder (1981:9)says “built in” syllabus is an internally programmed sequence for learning various aspects of the target grammar that may or may not coincide with the syllabus imposed on him or her by the teacher. At this initial input stage which Jack C. Richard (2002:158) calls input enhancement “an attempt was made to focus learners’ attention on particular linguistic features by such means as

Learner Training-The Rationale
Only by wrestling with the conditions of the problem at hand and seeking and finding his own solution (not in isolation but in correspondence with the teacher and other pupils) does one learn-John Dewey The rationale being that the learner never had an opportunity to use the target language for any other purpose other than his Examination. So, ‘If’ they could use it they would believe they could learn- this in turn would build their confidence and thus a change in their attitude towards English can be perceived. The teacher-researcher realized that if her learners had to be helped then they would have to be trained to use the language. The researcher planned to bring this sense of responsibility towards their learning by way of pair /group mark in a series of tasks and class room activities with the text as the take-off point.Tasks and genuine language production activities done in groups will be the vehicles for authentic exchange of language and aide in building an anxiety free environment where the learners can climb ' the scaffold ' of language proficiency.
Learning always proceeds from the known to the new. Good teaching will recognize and build on this connection. A metaphor that has been used to describe this kind of teaching is ‘scaffolding’. The student is seen as constructing an edifice that represents her cognitive abilities. The construction starts from the ground up, on the foundation of what is already known and can be done. The new is built on top of the known -Vygotsky: 1986
Further the researcher's belief is that if students could learn strategies to tackle the text and develop the ability of "languageing" themselves in oral form primarily, their esteem will be built and a sense of responsibility will be developed towards their own language learning so they’ll take charge of their learning. She believed her students do possess a repertoire of English and were surely capable of using English.
"Languaging” is a term coined by Rama Devi where she means the learner uses the target language to negotiate or to interact or to communicate in L2.-Rama Devi (1992).

Learner Training – Theoretical Support
The idea of providing learner training is to make the learners conscious of their present language level and help them discover ways to improve their target language level. Scharle and Szabo(2001:12) refer to the 3 stages in a learner training program to promote autonomy.

  • Raising awareness
  • Changing attitude
  • Transferring roles

Raising Awareness is the launch point where new viewpoints and new experiences are presented to the learners and they are encouraged to bring the inner processes of their learning to the conscious level of their thinking. Changing attitudes involves the repeated practising of the skills introduced at the previous stage. This is a slow process requiring a lot of practice and patience, since it takes time to go from understanding to practising new roles and habits involving the breaking away from the stubborn old patterns of behavior. Transferring roles requires a commendable change in classroom management and so it may be the most demanding phase for the teacher. Here the activities are loosely structured, giving a considerable amount of freedom to the students in accomplishing the task on hand.

Learner training in the present scenario
The above-mentioned stages of procedure guided the researcher in the course of her study although she viewed the stages with slight changes.. An attitudinal change towards English from “I don’t know English” to “I know some English” was her aim to start with. Therefore, the raising awareness stage blended simultaneously with the changing attitudes stage with the aim of bringing about an improvement in the learners both in attitude and language perception.
The raising awareness stage aimed at bringing in new experiences and view points and aspired to clearly show the students that they possess language- the language that they had learnt partly by rote and partly by understanding and which they now have to bring to use.. So, the present study is guided by the above-mentioned stages.

  • Raising awareness
  • Changing roles
  • Transferring roles
  • Learning by doing

Stage 1- The preparatory stage for the learner training where the Remedial Course served as the input. The teacher-researcher will introduce the learners to strategies for using the remedial material.
Stage 2 is the stage where the teacher role and the learner’s role will undergo changes .The strategies that the learners’ had learnt in Stage 1 will be put to use by Learners in learning their core text book .At this stage the learners would be practicing the strategies they learnt in stage 1 .

The Objectives
One of the main aims of the teacher in the initial stages is to build a non- threatening environment in the class. Adopting from Kohonen (1992) the teacher has put up the following as her aims.

  • Build up the students’ confidence.
  • Attempt to maneuver the students’ attitude towards English by de-conditioning him from his previous learning experience.
  • Try and move the learners thinking from English- a foreign language to English a useful language.
  • Encourage increased learner participation in the classroom activities.
  • Provide plenty of language practice.
  • Help the learner become aware of the various aspects of language work -mechanics of writing, grammar, spelling….
  • Understand that the teacher is not the sole authority but an available resource.
  • Making the learner realize the value of interactions in the class and ways to establish it.
  • Scaffold the language structures to help her learners ‘climb’ the level of proficiency.
  • Develop the habit of reflecting on their experience
  • To inculcate the reading skills to comprehend on their own.

Stage 1: The Learner and Teacher Activities
It is only by giving that you receive-old proverb.
The next part deals elaborately with the classroom activities during the learner training slot when the remedial course was done. The rationale that guided the teacher throughout the learner training slot was that her learners had a repertoire of English but they did not have an opportunity to use it. The teacher was aware that the learners were individuals who had their own beliefs, traits and learning styles and that a sense of mutual respect had to be fostered if the learner training had to be successful. The teacher had built up a good rapport with the students during the initial days of the course duration. She made explicit to the students the need for the remedial and the sought their co-operation. Together they made a set of working rules.

  • They would try and talk in English (as much as possible)
  • They would have to avoid “yes” and “No” answers. The teacher has observed that ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are all – inclusive statements. Once the student has used yes or no as the answer he thinks the statement or response is over. No further “languaging” was observed. Hence the rule.
  • Speak in complete sentences.
  • They would prompt or help each other because they have to work as a group.

Strategy Training in Action
The learners constantly worked in groups. They read the textbooks meant for lower classes together. The units consisted from small 4 lines poems to small stories with colorful pictures. The students found the units very simple funny, easy and along with being interesting, they exposed simple and basic structures in English. (The texts served as an input). ‘Language data (Utterance Texts) which the learner is exposed to: that is, the learner’s experience of the target language in all its various manifestations. It does not include explanations and rules concerning language but just samples of language conveying messages and data.’-Michael Sherwood Smith: (1994: 8) The learners attempted the questions at the end of the units, the spellings formations. The exercises were content based and they had the habit of phrasing out only the answer not making a complete sentence.

  • What was the color of the child’s house?
  • (Pat came the answer) ‘Green’- students’ choral response.

The students had to be reminded of the golden rule no 3 -make complete sentences. The students made a complete sentence of the answer. The teacher now set them on an activity where they have to make a rough sketch of their house and tell about it to their friend (like in the poem).They were given about 5 minutes to draw a sketch and then in groups talk about it. While ‘talking’ the teacher-researcher observed that one of the learners was explaining the word ‘swing’ using his hands-moving it back and forth to his team . The teacher observed non-linguistic responses from a set of learners who comprehended the text. The researcher realized that non linguistic forms of comprehending the language, like using the gestures help the learner to understand the text or the unknown vocabulary quite easily.
She kept moving around the class and observed that the learners were seriously involved in the task of describing their house. She noticed some of her learners talking in M.T. and reminded them gently with a smile on her face that they must try and talk in English others were speaking broken-forms. Nevertheless they were using the target language..The text being linguistically easy the learners could comprehend. The teacher constantly worked with the students and looked for chances to get them to talk in English. Her repertoire of activities included opinion questions- who do you think is the smartest? All activities integrated with the textbooks yet sought to trigger the learners’ experiences.

  • Talk about your previous school.
  • Favorite subject.why?
  • How is life here in the dormitory?
  • First day in the class here?

The students were put up with oral activities - those they would fringe back on their experience. According to David Boud(1981) ‘the active involvement of the learner is central and mandatory for proficiency to develop’. Therefore the learner’s immediate personal involvement in the activity happens to be the point of departure. Since the activity required the learners to work with his peers they found it less intimidating to talk. The students’ oral production of language was aimed at developing their confidence.
The same arrangement of working in groups continued. The researcher had also observed that when her learners were reading through the texts they could come across ‘unknown’ words. They would get stuck there and would want to know the meaning of the word from the teacher, or refer to a bilingual dictionary that they never failed to carry to class. Jeremy Harmer (2001:246) says ‘many teachers are frustrated by their students’ over use of dictionaries especially the electronic dictionaries’.
The students had to be introduced to the technique of puzzling /guessing the word’s meaning. The teacher chose the word ‘trunk’ and asked the students for the meaning. She chose the word out of the text that the students were reading. Teacher: what would “trunk” mean?
Students: elephant part….. (One group’s answer)
‘dabbah’( came the answer in L1-another group)
The teacher now decided to contextualize the same words.
1. The elephant’s trunk was bleeding.
2. The tree trunk was cut.
3. My books are in the trunk.
4. The police found the dead body’s head and torso separated.
In groups students were asked to try out the meanings. Student responses as they said them:
Animal body part
Tree part
A box like thing
Iron suitcase - I have trunk madam in dorm -a student.
Interestingly for the fourth sentence they showed the part below the neck as the answer-‘Body’…

The students took over a month to reach this stage of where they could talk to each other. During this period the teacher planned her lessons to include speaking and reading activities along with a grammar component. The teacher observed that her learners were very good at the rules of grammar. This meta- knowledge of the language she decided to exploit in her writing classes. The learners moved very fast through the textbooks of class 1, 2, and 3. Throughout this period the students were doing the language lessons given at the end of the lesson in their notebook. The basics of grammar, writing and mechanics were revisited and re-taught by the teacher.

The Outcome of Stage 1
The learners here were trained to read the text silently and loudly, any new word that they came across they learnt to guess the meaning using the puzzling technique. Over a period of 3 months that was officially allotted for the remedial course by the institute the students became more confident, had overcome their initial inhibitions and were willing to work in pairs and groups. They were willing to open their mouth and speak their mind.The researcher felt that the remedial slot had done its work because the learners had moved (in an informal talk with the teacher –researcher said that now English was not so scary) from ‘Oh! English it is difficult to English is easy’. The teacher-researcher could perceive the change in her learners’ attitude and so she felt they were ready for the 2nd stage.

Stage 2
Most of the students were now ready for stage II- The Changing Attitude, where they will have to practice the strategies they had learnt. This is a slow and painstaking process as it required a lot of patience on the teachers’ part. The activities here are repeatable and from now on the teacher decided to put them on their own slowly moving them on to self learning. The text book now happens to be their Core-The Snapshots-a collection of short stories.The one they are doing now is called Albert Einstein at School (Class VI, English, Snapshots Supplementary Reader English) http://ncert.nic.in/textbooks/testing/Index.htm

Learning to Read Aim: comprehending the text
Focus skill: Reading –scanning, skimming and speaking within the team.
Material: Albert Einstein at School (30 lines)
Time Limit: 15 minutes
Objective: Reading the text for information using various techniques like Scanning, skimming, extensive reading and interpretation. The teacher-researcher displayed a PPT with the following questions-

Answer The Following.

  1. Mr. Brown was Einstein’s teacher. What sort of a teacher was he?
  2. Do you think Einstein liked his history teacher? What made you feel so? Opinion scan for specific information.
  3. Do you think Einstein was a very brave boy or a very rude boy?
  4. Was Einstein’ school a nice school like yours? Look for proof in the text.
  5. What made Einstein ‘stay’ in that school?
  6. Locate an (e.g.) for slum violence in the text.
  7. In your opinion what was more miserable the slum violence or the school?

The students started reading the text with the question being visible on the OHP. They tackled the text as a team. They had already read this part of the text for tackling the new words in the text. So it was probably the 3rd time they were reading the text.
The groups now took turns to answer the questions.
For questions no.3: Was Einstein a very rude boy or a very brave boy? What makes you feel so?
Group 1: We think that Einstein is a very rude boy, because he should not talk like that to the teacher. He must keep quiet if he did not know the answer.
Group 2: We feel he is a brave boy. He spoke whatever he has on his mind. That is good.
For question no 4:
Was Einstein’ school a nice school like yours? Look for proof in the text.

Group 5: We agree that our school is better than his school, because we did not have any extra work and punishments, but we also had teachers who punished us. There we felt happy to go school but he is not happy at all. Our school has nice friendly teachers and other things. (They located lines from the text to say that he was not happy to go to his school and read them).

1. The learners were engrossed in reading.
2. Some of the teams were already working out the questions.
3. They were helping out their team members locate the text with the answer.
Some of the questions needed them to interpret the given text and in some cases they had to take the support of the text-look for exact wordings

Word-Attacking in Action
Albert Einstein at School
Aim:- The following are the teacher’s aims-
Use the guessing technique
Group cohesion
Searching for information

Target Skill: 1) Vocabulary building 2) Reading for a general understanding
Text: Albert Einstein at School.
Procedure: PPT with the target set of vocabulary ‘items’
Material: Soft copy of the text
Time allotted: 10 minutes.
Teacher-researcher’s instructions: - She asked the students to ‘guess’ which words or phrases in the text would mean the same. She marked out the text given in the appendix.
The PPT showed the following:
Identify the words in the text which mean the same.
1. Removed from school
2. A person who writes life story of another man
3. Teacher-researcher
4. Have an opinion on something
5. Learn something
6. An imaginary idea / concept yet to be proved
7. Reality
8. Feeling hurt, insult, unhappy
9. A place where you stay.
10. The owner of the house
11. Area where poor people live
Teacher-researcher modeled one for the students with an e.g. on the board. The teams listened and recognized the technique.
Teacher wrote: ‘I groped in the darkness for a match box.’
The students replied – ‘searched’
Teacher-researcher – ‘How did you know? Do you know the word ‘groped’ already?’
Learners- ‘No! Madam – we guessed from the sentences.’
Teacher-researcher – ‘what helped you to guess? Were there any special words to help you?’
Learners: ‘darkness’ …..
Teacher-researcher – ‘Good! Now try it with the words in the PPT you have 10 minutes to work’.
Most of the groups started and were seen practicing the ’guessing’ strategy. The students have the Cambridge Learner’s dictionary loaded on their screens. She observed a few teams then using it. She requested the teams to guess first and probably check their guesswork using the dictionary. There were teams which were quite fast and a few teams a little slow. So they were talking a little extra time. The teacher-researcher did not mind it. Soon the groups got ready and volunteered to present their answers. The teacher-researcher made the presentation a competition, wrote the team names on the board and then elicited the answers, made note of the score on the board. If the team made an error, the other teams volunteered to answer and thus corrected them. Almost all the learners were involved.
They were reading and re reading the text sometimes.
A sense of satisfaction was visible.
A sense of camaraderie was strengthening.
Each team was trying to get a point for themselves.-competition was in the air.

What is obvious from the above study and examples is that-learner training equips the learner with simple strategies that go beyond the task-on-hand. Besides increasing his motivational level and confidence, it helps him become self-dependent and as Holec. H says (1979:3) the autonomous learner is himself capable of taking charge of his learning.
Learners working in groups learn to co-operate and work at their own pace. This way even the slow learner is active as David Boud (1981) says ‘the active involvement of the learner is central and mandatory for proficiency to develop’.
The teacher’s traditional role as knowledge-giver (in India) has to go for good and that of resource person has to come in its place. If learners are to be helped to become self-dependent then the teachers should be willing to relinquish their dominating place at the front of the class. Plenty of opportunities to use the target language in its oral form have to be created by the teacher. This requires the teacher to be aware and empathetic towards her learners, their problems and their needs. The reading strategies and the word attacking skill have helped them realize that they can read and comprehend even if they don’t know the word. For this purpose texts that are linguistically simpler have to be used as input. The learners now have a choice of selecting the resources when they need help and it could be their peers, their text or their teacher. Through the oral activities that were pitched at getting the learner to reflect on their opinions and beliefs, the learners got a broader perspective of how language works and the purpose of learning the target language. The outcome of this study has been encouraging. I could argue that training the learner in reading for general understanding could help the reader move on from what Chall (1979)calls “glued to the print”.

Boud, D. (Ed.1981) Developing student Autonomy in Learning. London Kogan page.
Chall, J. S. (1979). The great debate: Ten years later, with a modest proposal for reading stages. In L. B.Resnick & P. A. Weaver (Eds.), Theory and practice in early reading (Vol. 1, pp. 29-54). Hillsdale, NJ:Lawrence Erlbaum.
Corder,S.P. (1981).Error Analysis and Interlanguage .Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Freire,P.(1970).Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.
Harmer. Jeremy (2001)The Practice of English Language Teaching. 3rd edition.
Pearson Education Ltd 2001 Kohonen, V. 1992. Experiential language learning: Second language learning as cooperative learner education. In D.
Nunan (ed.) Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Little .D( 1995). The development of learner Autonomy on Teacher Autonomy, System 2/2. P.P. 175-182.
Holec, H. (1979). Autonomy and Foreign Language Learning. Council of Europe. Pergamon Press
Nunan, D. (Ed.). (1997). Strategy Training in the Classroom: an Empirical Investigation. RELC Journal.28: 56-81.
Rama Devi, S. Individual investment in Meaning Making: Conceptualization in ESL Curriculum Design’, Disst, CIEFL, Hyderabad, 1986.
Richards.J.C.(2002).Methodology in Language Teaching:An Anthology of Current Practice .Ed.Cambridge University Press.
Scharle. A. and Szaba, A (2000). Learner Autonomy. Cambridge: CUP http://ncert.nic.in/textbooks/testing/Index.htm

Appendix 1
Dear Student,
Hi!I would like you to think about what actually happens in your Class Below you, have a questionnaire where you will find questions on your English classes in the school you studied previously. Please feel free to give your unbiased opinion. You have been exposed to a class room where the teacher came, taught and tested you. She decided what had to be taught, what you should learn. You are not sure whether you have learnt or not but you passed in the exam. There is another method of learning where you will have some freedom to work in your area of problem. You will be an individual and not one in a group. You will choose yours area of work and your teacher will help you. That is, you will be interacting with your friends, talking to them, helping them may be even teaching them. You will be responsible for your learning.
With regards and best wishes. HAPPY LEARNING!
Yours Sincerely,
1 Name
2 Age
3 Father's Name
4 Mother's Name
5 Father's Educational qualifications
6 What is your father’s occupation?
7 Mother's Educational qualifications
8 Do you parents talk in English?
9 Do you read books in English,
10 if yes what books
11 Do you read a News Paper?
12 Do you talk in English
13 Do you want to learn English?
14 Why do you need English
16 Name
17 Medium of Teaching
18 Did you have an English teacher to Teach you at your previous School?
19 Did your teacher talk in English ?
20 Were you encouraged to talk in English in your class?
21 My English teacher in 10 th class explained every word in the text.
22 My English teacher in 10 th class explained the meaning of the text
23 My English teacher in 10 th class gave notes to all the questions at the end of the lesson
24 My English teacher in 10 th class wrote out the answers on the board for me to copy
25 my previous English teacher in 10 th class asked the same questions in the examinations
26 She always talked in English
27 She stood in the front of the class
28 She taught grammar rules
29 She helped in the using English while talking
30 TESTS AND EXAMINATIONS(write your response as yes or no)
31 my previous English teacher in my 10 th class gave me lots of tests
32 I think my exam scores are the proof of my performance
33 tests score is important whether I understand/learn the concept or not
34 My previous English teacher in my 10 th class only corrected the test papers .She told me where to improve
35 English is not so important to learn
36 English is only for Board Exam
Attitude towards writing
Please read the following statements very carefully. Then put a (tick) in the appropriate column which indicates the extent to which you agree with the statement.

 Strongly agree agree disagree Strongly disagree uncertain
I like writing      
I like the writing lessons in school     
I think writing is interesting      
I think it is easy to write in English.     
I like to work alone      
I like to work with classmates      
I think grammar is more important than content      
I like to be given a lot of guidance from the teacher     
Thank you! Friend!

Appendix 2.
Findings based on the responses in the questionnaire: The following are the findings based on the questionnaire that was administered to the students

  1. Most of the learners came from rural background and belonged to the lower middle class and were from economically poorer sections of the society.
  2. The learners had a teacher- fronted methodology.
  3. The teacher used Mother Tongue (L1) in the class for explaining the meanings, the lesson, and difficult words…
  4. Very rarely (only 6 students in both the sample groups) they heard the target language.
  5. Dictated answers were the norms of their classroom so the ease in checking and correcting the notebooks.
  6. Practically no corrections of the notes were done. Since they did not write on their own.
  7. Rote learning was done.
  8. The students were taught grammar by rules. Internalizing the language was never the target.
  9. They never had any complaint, as their scores were relatively high.

Table no 1 -Medium of Instruction
GroupEnglish mediumTelugu mediumTotal
Control Group41923
Experimental Group41822

Appendix 3
Remedial content
The ‘remedial course’ included the NCERT Textbooks from class I to class VI. The textbooks now, were to the learner very colorful, simple, easy and ‘achievable’. The remedial course served as an input that was used to initiate the language learning process starting with material that’s considered very easy and would gradually build up their confidence and their repertoire of skills especially reading and speaking. Over a period of 3 months the students were put on the remedial course. This was a purely academic decision. The Remedial Content can be accessed from this web site: http://ncert.nic.in/textbooks/testing/Index.htm