“Revolutionising Language Teaching in South Asia: The “Anyone Can Teach” Approach”
The landscape of language teaching in South Asia is poised for a significant transformation, thanks to the innovative “Anyone Can Teach” initiative by SaySomethingin.com. This unique approach empowers non-native speakers to become language teachers, thereby creating a new income stream and fostering a culture of multilingualism. The initiative is particularly impactful in regions like Sri Lanka, where the demand for learning languages such as English, Chinese, and Spanish is high.
The “Anyone Can Teach” Methodology:
The cornerstone of this initiative is the AutoMagic™ methodology, which enables a person fluent in an interface language (for example, Tamil) to teach a target language (like English), even if they do not know the target language themselves. This method is revolutionary as it breaks down the traditional barriers to language teaching, creating a more inclusive and accessible learning environment.
Teacher Training and the Role of Welsh:
To ensure the teachers are well-equipped to handle the unique challenges of this teaching method, they undergo a rigorous training process. A crucial part of this training involves the teachers learning a completely new language – Welsh. The choice of Welsh is strategic; it is a language that most Tamil speakers are unlikely to know, providing them with a firsthand experience of the learning journey their future students will embark on. This empathetic approach to teacher training is designed to prepare teachers for the range of emotions their students might experience during their language learning journey.
The Impact on Wales:
This initiative also has an unexpected beneficiary – Wales. As Welsh becomes the training material for aspiring English teachers across South Asia, it inadvertently promotes the Welsh language and culture, creating a unique cultural exchange.
Evidence of Success:
The effectiveness of the “Anyone Can Teach” initiative is evident from the successful pilot programmes run by SaySomethingin.com in Sri Lanka in October 2022. These programmes, which included English for Sinhalese speakers and English for Tamil speakers, received an average rating of 9.2/10 from participants. The subsequent launch of the AnyoneCanTeach experiment in April 2023 further solidified the success of this approach, with an average rating of 9.1/10.
122 teachers in government schools in the Kegalle district in Sabaragamuwa Province, Sri Lanka participated in the training programme with an average response of 9.25/10 to the question:
කථන ඉංග්රීසි ඉගැන්වීමට ඔබ මෙම ක්රමය භාවිතා කිරීමට කෙතරම් දුරට ඉඩ තිබේද?
How likely are you to use this method to teach spoken English?
42 teachers in the Tea Country region—through our partnership with the Tea Leaf Trust—have been through an extended version of the programme with an average response of 9.1 to the question:
தமிழ் பேசுபவர்களுக்கு ஆங்கிலம் கற்பிக்கும் முறையை நீங்கள் பயன்படுத்துவதற்கான வாய்ப்பு எவ்வளவு?
How likely are you to use the method to teach English for Tamil Speakers?
When did it start?
The initiative began in October 2022, and is currently planned for a wider roll out through Rotary Club funding across all districts in the tea country region, and eventually throughout Sri Lanka. Other countries in South Asia are welcome to join the initiative, especially where there is a dearth of trained teachers and a demand for language learning.
Why Sri Lanka?
During a visit to Sri Lanka amidst an economic crisis, Tom Cassidy, the Head of Education at SaySomethingin, recognized a critical need to boost employment opportunities for the region’s youth. Moreover, he observed a significant lack of well-trained teachers. Conversations with his contacts at the Tea Leaf Trust convinced him that he could go a step further than just teaching English, but instead, contribute to people’s livelihoods directly. Considering the ongoing global demand for English proficiency, Tom saw an opportunity to tackle these two issues simultaneously. Thus, the ‘Anyone Can Teach’ program was born.
Here are some comments from one of the teachers who went through the programme:
“Hi, I’m Abhishek. Today’s session was quite unique and transformative. At first, when the teaching method was explained, it seemed impossible. But as we began learning step by step, minute by minute, we realized how effective it was. Despite not knowing anything about the Welsh language or even that Wales was a country, we found the language surprisingly easy to learn.
We thought about other students in our community who have some understanding of English. This teaching approach would be even more beneficial for them. They could learn quickly—covering all the essential parts of English in approximately 30 hours.
The experience was engaging and exciting. Mr. Tom, our instructor, was entertaining and kept us from getting bored. While the learning process was challenging, it was undoubtedly rewarding.
We learned about Wales as a country, its language, and, more importantly, a method for accelerating learning. Mr. Tom emphasized that going slow may seem easier but takes a long time. On the other hand, a faster pace, while a bit more difficult, is more effective if we fully concentrate and take short breaks of five to six minutes each.
When I used to learn English slowly, I would often forget what I learned because it took so much time. But with this fast-paced, fully-engaged, and highly-concentrated method, not only did we learn quickly, but we also retained the information more effectively. It was an enlightening experience, and I’m grateful for it.”
“ Hi I’m Pooja. Before attending the classroom session, I anticipated it would be a typical teacher training course. My assumptions, however, were soon altered. The classroom experience proved to be more engaging and enlightening than I initially thought.
Our instructor was not only effective but also fascinating. I began to understand how to adapt my teaching style for better student engagement, which was a new and enriching experience for me.
One key takeaway was the importance of speed. If we put in focused effort and work quickly, we can reach our goals more efficiently. I also learned about the importance of maintaining a polite and respectful demeanor in the classroom. Every student deserves equal attention, and no one should be singled out.
I learned about the significance of giving students breaks. This helps them relax their minds and, as a result, they can better absorb the material and generate more insightful ideas about the lesson.
The experience provided valuable insights and practical teaching methods, which I plan to utilize in the future. As an aspiring English teacher at a teenage center, these techniques will be invaluable. I’m inspired to embody the change I want to see in the world, and for that, I’m deeply grateful. Thank you.
The “Anyone Can Teach” initiative by SaySomethingin.com is a game-changer for language teaching in South Asia. By empowering non-native speakers to become language teachers, it not only creates new income opportunities but also promotes a culture of multilingualism. The unique use of Welsh in the teacher training process provides an empathetic approach to teaching and promotes cultural exchange. With proven success in pilot programmes, this innovative approach is set to revolutionise language teaching in the region.
Thomas Cassidy is head of learning at SaySomethingin and a lifelong advocate of accelerated learning. An Oxford physicist, he brings detail and creativity to methodological development.