Equipping the underprivileged children with English-speaking skills is the unique initiative of the Speaking Chalk. William Raspberry once said, “Good English, well-spoken and well written, will open more doors than a college degree. Bad English will slam doors you didn’t even know existed.”
Unfortunately, not all children have the privilege to get equipped with decent English skills. In order to bring in change, there is now a group of passionate individuals in Visakhapatnam that is striving to make a difference in the lives of students from economically challenged backgrounds. This group, which christened themselves as ‘Speaking Chalk’, is spearheaded by Sandhya Venugopal Godey.
How did it start?
Speaking Chalk started in November, last year, after Sandhya’s chance conversation with the Andhra University English Medium School’s Correspondent, Prof. B Prasad Rao. After this, she visited the school to interact with the students of classes 9 and 10. She felt that even though the students were able to understand whatever was being said in English, their ability to respond was very poor. According to her, it is imperative to have a good command over English to be able to effectively communicate with others and move ahead in life. So, in order to prepare these students for their bright futures, Sandhya took it upon herself to train them in the language. As it was difficult for her to handle all the students single-handedly, she started seeking help from her friends, which eventually led to the formation of the Speaking Chalk team.
How do they do it?
The volunteers of the team visit the school on every Thursday to teach the students for one hour. While they use the morning sessions to interact with classes 1-6, the afternoon sessions are used to train classes 7, 8, and 9. In fact, the school has redesigned their timetable so as to accommodate a dedicated slot for the Speaking Chalk class.
The current team consisting of over 30 volunteers, have specific classes allocated to them and manage such that the classes are always taken care of and never go unattended. Speaking Chalk is in the process of drawing up a syllabus for themselves to follow graded topics for the classes such that each successive class will have new topics that will be covered to improve their spoken English.
The kids have started showing improvement over the past few months. A testimony to this fact is the occasion when, after three weeks of extra classes during the summer break, the students organised and conducted a valedictory ceremony by themselves and even sang songs in English! Moreover, some of the kids were also trained to participate in the Spell Bee competition. It was heartening to see that the students, in spite of competing with participants from some elite schools, managed to reach the second round. These encouraging improvements speak of both the dedication of team members and the keen interest of students involved.
Who can join?
Any dedicated individual with a good command of English, who likes interacting with young minds and can dedicate one hour on Thursdays on a regular basis are welcome to be a part of the Speaking Chalk.
For more information, write to Sandhya Godey on