“I belong to a family of academicians,” says Professor Kajal Srivastava proudly. And she has every reason to be. Three doctorate holders in a small family unit is no mean achievement!
Professor Srivastava’s love affair with English began during her primary school years in Roma, Lesotho – a landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. “I had a fabulous English teacher … who instilled in me a love for English literature as well as for theatre. She was a major catalyst in fuelling my passion in the subject. My mentor after her was Dr Leela Kanal who took me under her wing for my PhD, after seeing my track record at the BA and MA(English) levels,’’ says Professor Srivastava.
English is a language which students generally fight shy off whereas it’s amongst one of the most wonderful languages we have. “One cannot deny however, that it is a language that connects the world. This in itself spells out the importance of the language,” feels Professor Srivastava. In fact she says that only once an individual becomes aware of the nuances of the language can he or she communicate in it effectively.
So, how does she impart her love of the language to her students at the Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow and help them become effective communicators? Professor Srivastava explains that teaching methodologies have changed over the years. With technology seeping into every facet of life, “classroom teaching and lecture delivery have made subjects much more interesting for students. Today, silent classrooms aren’t necessarily good classrooms. My thrust is on holding interactive classes wherein the students speak, question, ponder over issues and then come to conclusions. In short, I try and make my classes interactive,” she says.
Inspiring students to learn the nuances of English, especially to the many aspirants who come to the Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow from non-English speaking background, is never an easy task. Professor Srivastava elaborates on how she motivates them by telling them her own story. “I was never very well-versed in Hindi… I grew up in South Africa where Hindi wasn’t taught in schools. After coming to India for further studies, I thought I’d try to learn it…Hindi is tougher than English. I used the four major skills of language learning: Listening, speaking, reading and writing (LSRW) to improve my Hindi and today I can quite safely say that I have a good command over my mother tongue,” recounts the Professor who uses the LSRW methodology to help her students at Jaipuria, Lucknow hone their proficiency in the language. “I inspire the students to use all these techniques to learn English and improve further. Furthermore, I try implementing these in class too through videos, role plays and case studies.”
Hearing her talk about her personal success story involving her mastery over Hindi students learn one simple lesson: if their teacher can master Hindi, they can master English as well! “I encourage my students at the Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow, to watch the BBC World News, BBC movies, read the newspapers and try writing a paragraph or two if not a page to get acquainted with the language. They can thus be assured of having good communication skills, a great necessity in today’s competitive world.” Moreover, she insists that they befriend the language and not think of it as a bugbear because it actually isn’t.
Professor Srivastava also encourages her students to follow their dreams. To have some “you” time. “Once you are able to identify who you are, what your passion is – all you have to do is work along those lines. Trust me, you’ll work wonders,” she says.
The Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow Professor Srivastava emphasises, is one of the finest she has known and “being a part of it is an honour indeed.” What she loves is the academic environment as it gives her the opportunity to not only focus on her classroom lectures but also on her research. In fact one of her poems entitled “Life Of A Common Man On The Beaten Track” will be published in Research Scholar – an international refereed e-journal on Literary Explorations. This will be online on 1st March 2016. She is also focusing on an article in the field of Business Communication.
The Jaipuria Institute of Management, Lucknow says Professor Srivastava, also provides a platform “where the faculty can deliver their best through the various facilities provided which include well-equipped classrooms. It provides all the right elements to convert an academician into a scholar. It’s one of the most excellent places to be in!’