3 Local resources around the school

You can find many language and literacy related learning opportunities in the environment around the school.

Case Study 2: The journey to school

Mr Manik, an elementary school teacher from Mayurbhanj, teaches Classes IV and V. Here he describes how he used his students’ journey to school as the basis of some talk-related activities in his classroom.

I introduced the topic by telling my students about my own usual journey to school. I had made some notes and practised what I would say the evening before, to ensure that it included plenty of interesting details. I spoke slowly and clearly, with as much expression as possible, pausing between sections and checking that all my students were following.

I mentioned where I started from, what time I left home, how long the journey normally took, what forms of transport it included, what landmarks I passed, what I found attractive on the way, who I often saw, who I generally spoke to and what languages I used to do this. I finished by talking about the effect of the changing seasons on my journey, such as use of different forms of transport and the transformation of the scenery.

I followed this up by asking my students one or two things about their own journeys to school. I then told everyone to pay special attention to their journey into school the next morning.

The following day, I organised the class into groups of four and asked them to tell one another about their journeys into school, using the following questions as prompts:

  • Where do you start your journey?
  • What transport do you use?
  • How long does the journey take? Does it take longer depending on the season?
  • What are your favourite places on the way?
  • Who do you usually see?
  • Who do you talk to? What languages do you use to speak to them?

Whether they shared this information in their home language or the school language, all of my students seemed to have plenty to say.

Finally, as a class, we established which students lived furthest away, which of them spoke to the most people, and which of them met up with one another during their journey to school.

Pause for thought

  • In what ways could Mr Manik’s students be organised for the group discussions?
  • What kinds of activities can you think of that could follow the discussions?

The groups could be organised according to who lives in similar places, or who travels together, or in mixed groups.

Suggested follow-on activities could involve:

  • drawing a picture of something the students see on their route
  • drawing an illustrated and annotated map of their journey
  • writing a description of their journey
  • writing a poem about their journey
  • undertaking a class project analysing the differences and similarities among the school journeys taken by students within the class.

You can extend this activity by revisiting it a few weeks or months later and asking your students what has changed on their journey. It might be that the road has been improved, new buildings have been built or the people they meet have changed. In addition, the crops may have been harvested, certain fruits may be in season or part of the path may have been washed away, for example.

2 Speech-based local resources