Disruption of academic schedule this year due to pandemic lockdown has meant start of first year classes in colleges without the usual bridge course.
Teachers across subject majors acknowledge that absence of bridge course deemed essential particularly for students from rural parts to acclimatise themselves to teaching-learning sessions in English would have an adverse impact.
Only a handful of colleges have attempted to integrate bridge courses into online classes, and the experimentation has been partially successful, says G. Balakrishnan, former Vice-Principal of St. Joseph’s College, an expert in bridge course.
“Bridge course signifies many things: it means bridging school and college environments, rural and urban mindsets, Tamil and English, and most of all, the course is what bridges diffidence and confidence,” Mr. Balakrishnan explained.
In the Indian context, the bridge course enables students to get a sense of direction of graded tasks in listening, reading, writing and speaking.
“If listening is the foundation for speaking, reading becomes the basis for writing. There is, of course, no alternative to real time trainer-learner interface, but then it becomes important to devise new methods to integrate bridge course into the college studies,” he pointed out.
Under the present circumstances, when none know for sure about the start of regular classes for first year students, it is quite a possibility for colleges to conduct bridge courses online for students in batches of 50 or 60 under constant monitoring of teachers, he added.
Rural students are missing the utility of the bridge courses, and something needs to be done to remedy the situation, S. Ayyampillai, former Professor of Economics, Bharathidasan University, and presently Coordinator – Student Empowerment, Alagappa University, Karaikudi, said.
The bridge courses are not just about English language; students feel motivated when resource persons talk about matters beyond the purview of their subjects.
It develops the lateral thinking of students at the very outset and broadens their perspective about the world outside the confines of educational institutions, Mr. Ayyampillai said.