Learning English, the American Way

Times of India, June 3, 2008

Hafsa Chhipa, 15, daughter of a small-time businessman in Astodia had only dreamed of speaking in English, required to fulfil her aspiration of becoming a teacher.

Chhipa’s dream came true when she became part of a project conducted by Society For Promotion Of Rational Thinking (SPRAT) which imparts English language training through the US department of state’s access microscholarship programme.

Currently, the two-year programme is conducted in various districts of Gujarat and more than 240 students have enrolled in it.

“I hardly knew English before I came here. Now, I can talk and converse properly, its a great feeling. I believe knowledge of English is essential for a good career,” says Chippa. She adds that she has acquired more confidence now and loves to speak in the language.

“I have received good support from my family members which has helped me learn better,” adds Chippa.

US Consul General in Mumbai, Michael S Owen visited the SPRAT centre on Monday and interacted with a number of young students belonging to underprivileged and disadvantaged group.

Owen said, “Language is the key to understand the cultural differences and learning English which is now a global language will serve as living bridges for mutual understanding,” said Owen.

The programme seems to have clicked well with women. M Hasan Jowher, President, SPRAT said, “We have more than 40 percent girls in our programme as they have showed keen interest in learning the language. Students come from a diverse family backgrounds including rickshawpullers, small service providers and riot victims among others.” Mansoori Paria, 15, from Juhapura said, “I want to join IIM-A and I need to know English to get in.”

The Access microscholarship program is US department of state sponsored initiative offering students in the age-group of 14 to 18 years the chance to learn English in a interactive way. The programme builds English language communication skills that enhance student employment prospects and open a window to a broader world of ideas and opportunities our interconnected world.

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