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Marigold Book One: Review of NCERT's Class I English textbook
The new English book of the NCERT for Class I 'Marigold Book One' has become available and can also be accessed on and downloaded from the internet. When one goes through the book, it seems that book has been written with the assumption that children have already been to the English medium pre-school and their home language is English.

The very first lesson titled "A Happy Child" is nothing but stereotyping the image of a happy child – the one who never cries and has a tree to sit under when the play is done.

The poem goes like this: A Happy Child / My house is red - a little house / A happy child am I / I laugh and play the whole day long / I hardly ever cry / I have a tree, a green, green tree / To shade me from the sun / And under it I often sit / When all my play is done.

Moreover, the poem has little sing-song value and it has all the preaching. The exercises presume that children can read the words and match with pictures and colouring of out-line shapes with the right colours as 'fun with colours' exercises presume that children have acquired a good command on the eye-hand coordination.

Moreover certain questions to be answered such as: What is the colour of the happy child's house? What is the colour of your house? What is the colour of the tree? What is the colour of the sun?, are non-specific and vague. Another exercise states, "There are many kinds of houses. Circle the ones you have seen." Yet another picture draws attention to gender of a child – boy and girl. But all these exercises seem to be irrelevant if the core objectives of teaching this lesson are looked at.

Often, a few initial lessons in any language book for the school entrants are meant to build the sight vocabulary about certain objects in the environment of the child along with developing listening and speaking skills through short simple poems directly linking to the transition to new content, which is missing in the book.

The second lesson is a story meant to sharpen listening and speaking skills of children through a story "The Bubble, the Straw and the Shoe" told though through 'conversational method' and develop right pronunciation' and 'preach conservation of water' and 'cleanliness' to inculcate values. The 'happy child' is revisited by even 'laughing at the misery' of one of the character of the story.

Sample this paragraph from the story: "So, the Straw stretched himself from one bank to the other. When the Shoe jumped on the Straw, it broke. The Shoe fell into the water with a loud splash. The Bubble shook and shook with laughter and burst with a big bang." Do you think that the pitching language is suitable for 5-6 year old typical Indian child?

The book is perhaps written keeping in view the children in metro cities with command on spoken English and most units are moral science lessons rather than the language lessons. Even the pre-writing activities are sequenced well. However, the some of the exercises at the end of the lessons are interesting. The book does not suit the context of rural children at all for whom English is being taught right from class one.

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