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A programme to teach English to primary children in rural areas of Maharashtra

INDIA

A programme to teach English to primary children in rural areas of Maharashtra, western India, starts next month.

More than 60,000 schools are involved in the pound;2.8 million state-inspired project to introduce English teaching in an interactive way.

Schools will soon echo to the sound of primary children learning to respond to "How are you?" and reading stories about the cunning fox in English, instead of Marathi or Gujarati.

A textbook, with 350 illustrated words common to English and Marathi (including "tractor", "television" and "cricket") hasbeen distributed free, along with flash cards, charts and other teaching aids. Teachers have been given pronunciation instructions to develop conversation skills.

The idea is to arm children with everyday conversational words and the ability to recognise spoken words associated with colours, shapes and pictures.

In the first two years they will not be taught the alphabet.

The scheme is funded by the state, the central government and the World Bank. It aims to give at least 150,000 heads, teachers and inspectors more confidence in using English.

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