1 Print-based local resources

You will begin by considering ways of using print-based local resources to enhance your language classroom.

Case Study 1: Using food packaging in the language and literacy classroom

Mr Deo, an elementary teacher in Madhya Pradesh, describes how he uses food packaging to develop language awareness among his Class VI students.

Apart from the textbooks, I have few resources in my classroom. Last year I realised that the slogans, lists of ingredients and instructions on food packets lent themselves well to language-based activities.

I therefore started to collect empty, clean food packets and cartons and cans, and asked my relatives and neighbours to keep theirs for me too. Many packages were illustrated with colourful words, phrases and pictures [Figure 1].

Figure 1 Examples of writing on food packaging.

I brought the packaging into class and selected one to show one to my students. It was a mango drink carton. Several of my students recognised it as they drink it themselves.

I asked my students what ingredients they thought it contained. I invited a volunteer to read out the ingredients: ‘Water, mango, sugar, artificial flavouring, preservative’. I asked another to read out the slogan on the front, ‘For good health’. We discussed the ingredients and whether they were as healthy as the slogan claimed.

We looked for other writing on the carton. There was an instruction to serve the drink cold, and a request that the carton be disposed of carefully. I wrote the key words and phrases on the blackboard.

Next, I asked my students if they remembered what an adjective was. From the words written on the blackboard, I helped them identify some examples from the packaging (such as ‘good’, ‘artificial’ and ‘cold’). I asked the additional language speakers in my class how they said these adjectives in their home language.

I then organised my students into groups of three or four and asked them to examine the packet or carton they had been given, copy out the key words and phrases, discuss their meanings, and identify any adjectives among them.

We finished with a whole-class feedback session, during which each group called out the adjectives they had found in their allocated packaging. I listed these on the blackboard for everyone to copy. The one or two examples that were not in fact adjectives allowed for helpful clarification.

I have since repeated the activity, redistributing the packaging among the groups. However, on one occasion I asked my students to focus on verbs, and on another occasion, nouns. In each case, I began by inviting examples of these word forms from the mango drink packaging, before asking groups to look for examples on the packets they had been allocated.

The feedback sessions proved very interesting in clarifying my students’ conceptualisation of language. In the case of the verbs, for example, we noticed that these often took the form of imperatives (such as ‘serve’ and ‘dispose’). In the case of the nouns, we noticed that some were singular (‘carton’), some were plural (‘ingredients’), some were concrete and tangible (‘sugar’ or ‘water’), and some were abstract (‘health’).

Even now, my students sometimes present me with another example of an adjective, verb or noun that they have found on food packaging at home.

Pause for thought

  • What language learning opportunities did Mr Deo’s activity contain?
  • How could you adapt or extend it to suit your students?
  • What other kinds of print-based resources would lend themselves to this kind of activity?

In this activity, students talked about the words that are listed as ingredients on food packaging (i.e. nouns) and the descriptive words on the packaging (i.e. adjectives). You could also ask students to write their own recipes or slogans for their favourite foods. There are several other resources that you could use for these kinds of activities – for example, bus schedules, cinema tickets, or advertisements from a magazine.

Activity 1: Using print-based resources with your students

Look ahead at the aspects of language that you are due to cover in your Hindi textbook. Consider how you could complement one of these by drawing on print-based resources from the local environment. Take account of their suitability for your students and the ease with which you can collect them. Alternatives to food packaging include, for example, advertisements from magazines, instructions for products or processes, and leaflets announcing local events.

Collect a sufficient number of examples to distribute among the groups of students. Check the material to ensure that it contains suitable examples of the language you wish to focus upon.

Outline the different parts of your lesson, along with their timings. Bear in mind that you may need to do extension activities on a subsequent day.

Pause for thought

After you have tried out the activity, reflect on how it went.

  • What language learning was achieved in the lesson?
  • To what extent were you able to monitor and assess your students’ speaking, listening, reading and writing skills?

Why this approach is important

2 Speech-based local resources