‘Mission possible’ to teach the police English (With Images)

May 1st, 2011 - 6:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Sushil Kumar New Delhi, May 1 (IANS) Till a few weeks back they could not correctly pronounce everyday English words. But after a mere five days of training in the language at Delhi’s Police Training College (PTC), the trainers were correcting their seniors while speaking in English.

Many of the trainers at the PTC, some of them nearing retirement, could not speak the language continuously for even two minutes, but were training thousands of policemen over the years. But the scene changed ever since the man from Hyderabad started his mission.

A group of 40 trainers - out of the total strength of 500 at the PTC - were coached by Munawar Zama from Hyderabad who took upon the job on the advice of India Islamic Culture Centre (IICC) president Sirajuddin Qureshi.

Qureshi had felt that Delhi, being a global city, must have its police force well articulated in English and he suggested the task to Zama.

The first phase of the training concluded last week and the second would commence soon. Divided into two phases - English pronunciation and communication skills including grammar - the classes were held between 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“The classes have been a success and we can see improvement in the trainers. I think such initiatives are very important and there is a possibility that a comprehensive session would soon be organised for them,” A.K. Singh, the principal of PTC, told IANS.

“I come to the IICC every year for 40 days to teach English to students who cannot afford to go for private classes. This year I was asked to give English classes to the trainers at the PTC. The improvement is there to be seen,” Zama told IANS.

According to IICC officials, Qureshi had recently met Delhi Police chief B.K. Gupta and chalked out the plan where the trainers would be taught the language initially for a period of two weeks.

M. Wajood Sajid, media adviser to Qureshi, told IANS: “This is the capital city of the country. It has a great number of tourists at any time. The city also houses various foreign high commissions and embassies.

“So policemen who can speak English would bring more efficiency in the force.”

At the PTC Zama was first surprised to discover that the trainers were at a loss as far as speaking in English was concerned.

“It was surprising to learn they were just teaching whatever little basic knowledge of the language they had to a force who were being prepared for a major metropolitan city and the country’s national capital,” said Zama.

According to him, teaching a foreign language to them was an uphill task as a majority of the trainers being from states like Haryana, Rajasthan and Bihar had very heavy accents while some just detested the language, finding it tough to speak.

But, according to the trainers themselves, the way they were taught was completely different and in the end the whole process of understanding the phonetics and pronunciations turned out to be fun because of the innovative methods used.

“We were given examples of Bollywood stars and popular cricketers to help with our phonetics. It was the first time that we were taught in this manner and it became very easy for us to learn,” said 40-year-old sub-inspector at the PTC, Ram Niwas.

The trainers also admitted that though this is not the first time they were being trained in the language, it was definitely the first time that they are being properly trained.

“The classes were long due as it was high time that the police force of a major city started speaking English,” added Niwas.

Agreed sub-inspector Sushil Kumar:

“English is a global language and in a city like Delhi where the number of English-speaking population is increasing by the day, we can’t afford to lag behind.”

All the 40 trainers are very confident now. “We don’t claim to speak fluent English but can definitely interact with an English-speaking tourist,” a proud Kumar told IANS.

The best aspect of the session is that the trainers as well as Zama have developed a strong bonding and both want more sessions with each other.

“We want him to teach us for at least three months,” said Urmiljeet Kaur Maan, another trainer.

Kumar, however, went a step further and said that Zama should train them for at least two years and no less.

“When it comes to his classes, the more the merrier, I would say,” chuckled Kumar.

Zama shared the same views and said that he was in talks with senior officials at the PTC to hold a two-month session soon.

“I think they just need two months’ training and they would be fine. Moreover, I have my own institute back home in Hyderabad and have a responsibility towards my students there too,” he said.

(Rahul Vaishnavi can be contacted at rahul.v@ians.in)

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