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Know Your Teacher: ‘Role play is a great learning tool’ says an educator

A Hindi teacher at Apeejay School says that students’ answers should reflect their command over this language



After she completed her MA (Hindi), she did her BEd in Hindi and Home Science. She chose to teach because this is her passion even though she belonged to a traditional family where women were not allowed to take up jobs back then. However, all this changed when she got married. When she voiced her wish to teach, her father-in-law and husband were extremely cooperative and encouraged her. And since then, there has been no looking back.

“I am from Alwar in Rajasthan and that is where my teaching journey began. To begin with I was on contract and then I became permanent and taught there for another three-and-a-half years. However, I had to take a break since my husband got transferred. But when we came to Mumbai, I had heard a lot about Apeejay and the brand value it carried. I applied for a post and got selected in my first attempt,” Usha Agarwal said, who teaches Hindi at Apeejay School, Kharghar to classes IX and X and received The Best Teacher Award in Navi Mumbai in 2007-08.

 Excerpts from the interview.

Why did you choose to teach Hindi?

I have always had a love for languages, especially Hindi. I was confident that if I chose to study this subject, it would take me places. And my decision has proved to be good for me. Even though I was encouraged to either pursue English or Political Science, I declined. I used to participate in Hindi debates in school. I love the language and used to write poems and articles. My command over the language was good and here I am – I have now been teaching for 21 years – though my professional journey began in 1991.

Do you still write?

Yes, I do. There are certain occasions when I contribute to events like Hindi Divas, a school function, or if the school is giving farewell to a teacher, or if the school is celebrating Hindi Week. When I am asked, I pen down whatever is expected of me. With time, Apeejay has given me several responsibilities to carry out – I am a house coordinator, CBSE in charge, and look after Interact Club and HoD Hindi. My priority is always teaching, it leaves little time to write. But I will take it up once I retire.

How has your journey been?

It has been truly amazing. When I was teaching in Rajasthan it was cut and dry; I would teach and be back home. At Apeejay, it is very different. The teaching methodology is very different here. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to learn and impart knowledge to the students. Before I enter the class, I am always ready with a story that will help students co-relate with the chapter or topic under discussion. This helps students develop an interest in the subject.

Usha Agarwal, HoD Hindi, Apeejay School, Kharghar

Key components to keep in mind while learning Hindi.

I always tell my students that if they have to learn the language, they must follow the rules of the language. They must speak the language to have a grasp of it. Students find this subject difficult because there is a difference between spoken and written Hindi. When you speak, you can use whatever words to get your point across, but when you write it has to be क्लिष्ट Hindi and students find this tough.

I tell my students not to use complex words but to use common and easy Hindi words in their answers. Your answer should reflect that you have command over Hindi.

How do you make Hindi interactive?

Besides storytelling, a popular way to make classes interactive is role play. Students find this interesting. It also helps them to learn new words, their meaning, and how the word can be used. I also tell them पर्यायवाची शब्द; this helps them improve their language skills even more.

A message for teachers starting their profession.

Become role models for your students. If you don’t reach your class on time, you can’t expect your students to be on time either. Also, learn from your students.

Shalini is an Executive Editor with Apeejay Newsroom. With a PG Diploma in Business Management and Industrial Administration and an MA in Mass Communication, she was a former Associate Editor with News9live. She has worked on varied topics - from news-based to feature articles.