TikTok domination, it’s definitely Global
Picture this, a building not much bigger than half a tennis court, as a school. Crammed with 120 children ages ranging from 4 to 14, with no shoes, ripped clothes, and in most cases suffering from malnutrition, virtually illiterate in English. Each one doomed to fail as they will not have enough English language skills to progress with life in India. My voluntary role was to teach them a sufficient level of English to graduate to their next school and help break the cycle of poverty.
As you can imagine I felt a little helpless as to how and what I was going to teach them. I had been given a curriculum book with minimal instructions and told to be creative as possible in my teaching. I did my utmost to be engaging so they wouldn’t drift off. For example, I made it a point to sit next to every student at some point during the class and tried to make it feel like a one to one session instead of conducting class from behind a table.
After an initial frosty start, the children warmed up to me. I thought about how I might change the way they learnt English, so I decided, at the end of each lesson to have a social media workshop, I planned to introduce them to Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. I thought that the power of the platforms could expose them to more English as they did not have any real resources and only one hour of my time, once a week.
By the second week, they were quoting my Instagram captions in class, but in Hindi instead of English! Most intriguing was their knowledge of the platform TikTok. One of my students’ brother who was only twelve had amassed over 500 followers, by just following the trends of the platform and creating funny videos. Whilst their English was nonexistent, each individual had the drive to learn and seek out new tech and social mediums where they might be able to express themselves. Their ability to consume and understand how to interact with the app is not only a great testament to the companies that develop them but also the instinct of these young minds who want to learn.
My students like many other Indians are smitten by the TikTok bug, the app makes it easy to create videos using nothing more than a phone. My worry for them is that this fad has consumed the young population, when in fact what they need to learn is the basics of life to survive the harshness of reality. If only India could leverage these trends and help its young to develop valuable content that would enable them to earn, learn and thrive.
The greatest take away from this whole experience would be:
Not to worry what others may say about your content but to listen to how it makes you feel first and foremost.