It’s been 10 years since the inception of LeapForWord. While it’s an oft-repeated cliche, but it does feel like it was only yesterday that we started with baby steps on the journey that has brought us here.
We were a bunch of MBA students keen on using our skills for good. One area that especially bothered us, was the problem of employability amongst the youth and our initial research led us to pin-pointing one of the major reasons for that – English illiteracy was one of the major stumbling blocks for most people.
After identifying the target group that was most likely to benefit from learning English, we started working on a plan to reach out to them. Evening colleges seemed like the right place to start off with & that’s where we started. We made a list of all evening colleges under Mumbai University and started approaching them.
St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai – LFW First Project
However, not everyone welcomed us with open arms. Some were skeptical about our intentions, while others questioned our ability to help. Maybe we were naive to believe that it would be easy. One of the few people who received us with affection & opened their doors to us were the Jesuit priests at St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai. They appreciated our idea and allowed us to teach the students of their evening college.
And thus, we started our first batch in the month of December 2006 with 27 students. We would teach the students on weekends – a couple of hours on Saturdays and a few hours every morning on Sundays.
The energy & enthusiasm of the students in those early days added to our drive. Our early efforts at teaching English were mainly based on the existing techniques of teaching grammar & from our online related to the topic.
Every Sunday, post the session we would sit together to understand our areas of improvement. Prior to this, we had no experience whatsoever of teaching English or any other language for that matter. We under-estimated the challenge & that probably helped us. For that meant we were open to ideas & we gaining new insights every day. We were trying to learn how things work and understand the real challenges of our target profile.
This first batch ended late March 2007 (~80-100 hours of engagement) and was indeed a learning experience.
Bunch of students who were part of our initiative in the initial days. It could not have been possible without the support of Jesuit priests at Xavier’s College.
It gives us great pleasure to see most of these students today working in jobs across the corporate sector, be it in Insurance or Hospitality.
We have come a long way since and have over the course of the last decade developed a pedagogical approach that reflects & responds to the unique challenges that students in India face. There have been multiple iterations along the way, we’ve changed tracks many times, there have been setbacks & failures but we have persisted. Today, we find ourselves, closer than ever before to realizing our dream of ‘English enabled India’.
We have reached out to over 8000 students & we’ve trained over 700 teachers successfully. The content is ready, the delivery model is being fine-tuned & we are all geared up & excited about solving the problem that continues to hold back millions of our students across the country. We will keep sharing more about our plans & learnings and look forward to your feedback & support in this journey. 🙂