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English language academy INTACEL is using Pre A1 Starters, from Cambridge English, as the core of an English language teaching programme for underprivileged primary students in Pune, India.
English is a mandatory subject for primary school children in Pune, but despite great enthusiasm among teachers and students, levels of English teaching – and therefore achievement – have been disappointingly low. Since 2010, however, English language teaching academy INTACEL has been working with the Pune Municipal Corporation to improve primary English teaching and learning by using the Pre A1 Starters test, from Cambridge English, to provide both an engaging and relevant teaching programme and the credibility of external assessment from an internationally renowned organisation. Pre A1 Starters – the first of three levels designed to develop primary school English skills – is ideal for Pune primary students, whose English is very limited, and is also an ideal fit with INTACEL’s integrated teaching approach which focuses on the four key language skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing.
INTACEL launched the teaching programme with 800 students, but despite their skills and knowledge INTACEL staff found programme delivery unusually challenging. Attendance was erratic, as many students were engaged in child labour, and a lack of parent–teacher interaction limited both feedback and home study. However, the engaging format used by Pre A1 Starters, a lively coursebook, and an emphasis on fun began to deliver small but measurable changes in student performance and attitude, with students starting to value their new skills (using them to help their parents complete forms, for example) which in turn increased their enthusiasm.
INTACEL extended the programme to 1,500 students in 2012, with 3,000 more taking part in 2015, while the original students are now moving on to A1 Movers, the next level of testing. Pre A1 Starters has therefore enabled INTACEL to deliver English language skills to a strata of Indian society which has–to date–been deprived access to the benefits that such skills can deliver.