The Vallabh Niketan Ashram is a serene sanctuary for senior citizens and young boys, most of whom hail from single-parent families. While food, clothing, shelter, and medical support are offered to all residents, education is provided to the youngsters aged between 10 and 18 years at government schools and colleges situated in the neighborhood.
Over the past 75 months, Team SSM Bengaluru has offered monthly dry rations, weekly annadaanam seva, and milk on a daily basis to help support the nutritional needs of the residents. During the weekly breakfast sessions, the team members have also offered academic and exam support classes and built a warm rapport with the youngsters with the inclusion of games and interactive activities.
In January 2023, the team members received a request for Spoken English classes. The course content was created with the help of the instructor at the Satsang Skill Development Centre (SSDC), Madanapalle. An English Grammar primer was also included to reinforce basic grammatical concepts and aid better sentence construction. The duration of each learning session was set for an hour and 15 minutes every Saturday afternoon under the able guidance of two volunteers.
The first session was launched on Saturday, 4th February 2023 for 26 youngsters. An initial assessment led to the formation of two groups based on academic levels: Group 1 comprised the junior participants from Grades 5 to 9, and Group 2 was earmarked for the senior participants, studying in Grades 10 to 12 and at the undergraduate level.
Ice-breaker sessions helped the volunteers gain acceptance from the participants and assess their learning needs. A prose text elucidating the cultural lore of Bengaluru and the state of Karnataka was introduced to elicit interest in the cuisine, local traditions, eminent citizens, history, and important landmarks. The participants learned to read the text in turns as the others listened with rapt attention, following up with questions and discussions. Thus, the participants were drawn into comprehending and thinking in English. Occasionally, the use of Kannada, the regional language, helped them grasp the nuances of the text.
The participants were also introduced to stories from the Panchatantra to help them internalize the flow of thoughts expressed in them. The junior and senior participants explored different stories and performed skits based on them with great enthusiasm.
Creative assignments for the junior participants related to the presentation of shapes such as circles and squares not only helped them extend their learning by asking connected questions but also encouraged them to sketch and color different objects.
In subsequent sessions, new volunteers ushered in a different perspective to the classes. They strove to inculcate habits in effective communication: speaking in turn; seeking permission to speak; and paying greater attention to the class and what others are saying. These habits started yielding better learning outcomes.
When the senior participants evinced an interest in learning interview skills, a template was created to enumerate their interests, strengths, and aspirations. Roleplays of real-life scenarios such as booking of movie tickets and reinforcement of stock phrases also helped enhance the listening and observational skills of the participants.
With the onset of final examinations and the summer vacation, the first set of sessions concluded on 8th April 2023.
During the vacation, the volunteers brainstormed and suggested improvements to the learning paradigm focussing on helping the participants to overcome their inhibitions and ensure sustained participation and holistic learning during the new set of sessions that have started from 10th June 2023.
To be a part of the continued education of these bright youngsters and support the Satsang Seva Mission, please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.