Tribal Folklore as ELT Material for First-Generation Learners

K. Viswanath, Seemita Mohanty


An important component of any ELT programme is the content. A course-book ensures that the required course content is presented in a uniform format for ready implementation. In most cases where English is taught as the second or foreign language, a course-book is ‘the only point of contact with the language’ for learners. Available research has established that appropriate language content motivates learners to acquire language skills. In the eastern Indian state of Odisha, that has a high tribal population, a government sponsored scheme named Anwesha exists, which aims at providing quality English medium education to underprivileged rural tribal children, in urban public schools. But it is widely observed that these first-generation tribal learners in the English Medium Instruction (EMI) system are being deprived of the desired results. Finding no motivation to study a foreign language with unfamiliar content, and facing unfair competition from city-bred privileged learners, many of them drop out midway. Tribal communities in India have a rich tradition of folklore but it has by and large remained oral and no serious attempts have been made to use it as material for ELT. A pilot-project with ELT material drawn from the local tribal-folklore, aimed at providing familiar course content, was conducted to encourage students to learn better. Improvements in compliance of the assigned classroom tasks were noticed and the familiar content did bring in an element of enthusiasm among the young learners. It is believed that the findings of this study will be helpful in contextualising ELT course content using materials from learners’ own folklore.


Tribal Folklore, ELT, Course Content, English Medium Education

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