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Interview with Naila Parekh

Interviewee: 
Parekh, Naila
Interviewer: 
Callahan, Melissa
Date of Interview: 
2003-02-07
Identifier: 
LGPA0577
Subjects: 
Cultural identification
Abstract: 
Naila Parekh talks about school in Pakistan
Collection: 
Charlotte Narrative and Conversation Collection
Collection Description: 
Melissa Callahan interviews Charlotteans to collect stories for a class project at UNC Charlotte.
Transcript:
MC (Melissa Callahan): ( ) Three, my name is Melissa Callahan and I am here with Naila Parekh, who comes from Pakistan, and she is going to talk to me a little bit today about schooling in her country, Pakistan. First of all, you told me that, on the interview sheet, that you learned Urdu and another language, um, which is not a written language, called Memoni.
NP (Naila Parekh): Memoni.
MC: Mem-, excuse me, Mem-, Memoni. How did you learn those languages?
NP: From my childhood.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // From // my mother and father.
MC: Uh-huh. And at school?
NP: In school we learned, um, Urdu-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -And English as a basic language.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: And, uh, some kinds of Arabic versions.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: // So. //
MC: // When // did you start learning English? Do you remember how old you were?
NP: Yeah, um, two-and-half years old.
MC: Wow, that's very young.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: Pre-, pre-, at preschool?
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: So in Pakistan, children go to preschool-.
NP: // Uh-huh. //
MC: // -As // young as two-and-a-half?
NP: Umm, two and half. And we started from alphabet, alphabet, English alphabet.
MC: Uh-hmm.
NP: And, uh, basical-, basically we speak Urdu.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: And English is just like a language, // subject. //
MC: // Oh, // so it was another subject?
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: And, uh, the teachers were usually using just Urdu to teach the subject?
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: When did you start speaking English quite a bit in class? When was it more spanal English?
NP: Yeah, from I think, third and fourth grade.
MC: Third and fourth grade. So you were about nine, 10 years old?
NP: Yes.
MC: And was learning English fun? How did you feel about it?
NP: Yes, I like it very much // [laughs]. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: Yes, fine. And I feel happy when I learn and speak English-
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -and understand.
MC: Now, do you think you were typical, or do you think that was the way the teachers taught English? Did, did they make it fun for the children?
NP: Yes, fun.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: But, uh, you know, Urdu is our // [laugh]-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -National language, so, we, we, we learned English.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: But, uh, basically we speak everyone in Urdu.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: The teachers and friends and everyone.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: And with family members-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -We speak Urdu.
MC: Now you said that when you were starting to learn English, um, you remember learning the ABCs.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: Um, later when you started, um, to learn English in third and fourth grade, you had to do more speaking. Did, um, the teachers start giving you homework at that point?
NP: Yes-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -They did. They gave us homework.
MC: Why do you think they gave you homework?
NP: It is necessary.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: It is necessary. We, we did get daily homework.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // It is // necessary because, uh, to move to higher grade.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: Homework is necessary.
MC: OK, so it was really to give you more practice-.
NP: // More practice. //
MC: // -So that you // could progress further on.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: Do you remember, um, other ways the teachers, um, kind of would check to see how you were doing besides homework, and what you did in class, your class work, and homework? Did the teachers, for example, ever give you tests?
NP: Yeah.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: Tests.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // We // did tests-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // -And // exams.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: Because, uh, it is necessary, I think so, because // we-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -We go to higher grade.
MC: OK. // That's-. //
NP: // And // we learn more-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -About it.
MC: So testing really, knowing that you had a test-.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: -Would make you study?
NP: Yes.
MC: And what would happen, um, I have a few questions about tests. [Laugh]
NP: // Uh-huh. //
MC: // First // of all, what would happen if you didn't do well on the test? Would you, um, have to repeat? For example, if you were in fifth grade, and you took the test and did not do well, would you have to go with, say, the fourth graders until you learned the material?
NP: Uh-huh, yes.
MC: OK, so it // would force you. //
NP: // Tend to force you-. //
MC: OK.
NP: -Sometimes.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: Not every time.
MC: Uh-huh, and, were the tests given, um, once a year or more frequently?
NP: No, uh, three times in a year.
MC: Oh, really? OK.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: OK. And what were the tests like? Can you remember any parts of them?
NP: Basically, uh, we learned, uh, English literature-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // -And // English grammar, you know.
MC: OK.
NP: Both. And in literature, in literature we, we read the books-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -And, uh, uh, in books-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: // -We did, // we did exams.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: In books literature, and you know, um, stories about, // um-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -And, it's, grammar, grammar is different.
MC: OK, so you, you focused on, um, grammar and writing-.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: -Separately than literature. Did you, now I'm curious, was it, um, focused more on British literature?
NP: Yeah.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: Uh-huh, Britis-, British lit-, literature, uh, and we had, we had the books from Oxford University.
MC: Uh-huh, uh-huh. Wow, and sometimes you would read a whole book or a whole story and there might be questions about the // story-. //
NP: // Yeah. //
MC: -Afterwards?
NP: Uh-huh. Yes.
MC: So were the tests, um, like short answer tests or were they the types of tests where you would fill-in-the-blank?
NP: No, it's, uh, whole answers.
MC: OK. Not the multiple choice or // short answers? //
NP: // No, sometimes, // some questions, uh, we did fill-in-the-blanks or somethings like that.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: But, uh, we do also had whole questions-.
MC: // OK. //
NP: // -And // the big questions or small.
MC: Uh-huh, and did it start, I imagine, it started, um, it progressed to be more and more-.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: -Written as you got older and got more proficient with, with writing English. How did you feel about those types of tests?
NP: I like it.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // I like that. //
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: I like very much. And, uh, in grammar, you know, in grammar fill-in-the-blank is fill-in-the-blank-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -And essay writing and letter writing and basically-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -These types of tests.
MC: Uh-huh. Were the tests, um, very long? Did they take just an hour or several // days? //
NP: // No, // three hours.
MC: Three hours.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: That's, starting from as young as third and fourth grade?
NP: Yeah.
MC: Uh-huh. [Tape interruption] Um, I wonder if there are any questions that I wanted to ask you. [Tape interruption] Oh, OK, um, tell me, tell me again, about the types of homework assignments you remember having.
NP: Homework sometimes was very easy and-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // -Sometimes // it's hard.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: But, uh, it is, it is necessary, I // think-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -Because the understanding and comprehending to go to higher grade-.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: -It's very necessary to // understand. //
MC: // Did // you, uh, have workbooks that you had to take home? Or a book?
NP: Yes.
MC: And then // you might-. //
NP: // Uh-huh. //
MC: -Fill in the exercises-.
NP: // Yeah. //
MC: // -On // a sheet of paper.
NP: Yes, uh, we did that.
MC: Is that mainly, uh, your grammar-type activities?
NP: Grammar // type-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -Activities, yes.
MC: Do you ever remember having to write a paper? About, as you got older, do you remember writing a paper about a famous person? And you had to do it in English, or, do you remember ever having to do any research from your class?
NP: No, // I-. //
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: -I don't think so. // [Laughs] //
MC: // That // would be really advanced, wouldn't it?
NP: Yeah.
MC: And, uh, back to exams. Were there any very important exams that you had to take in order to, well, to graduate that last year? When you finished high school? Was there a very important exam you needed to take, or was it basically the same types of tests you were taking every year?
NP: No, I think it's, uh, it's different-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // -Because, // uh, it's higher class.
MC: Uh-huh.
NP: It's twelfth grade so it's different, and it's, uh, I think so it's important.
MC: Uh-huh. [Pause] Let's see what your daughter brought us to look at, let's see, this is something she wrote for me in class. Wow, it must have been a couple of months ago. Let's read it. "There are many similarities and differences between school in the United States and school in Pakistan. I like school in the United States better. In Pakistan schools there is no cafeteria. You eat during recess. There is no computers and no calculators. There is big and many works. There are big and many, many tests in a day. There is older girls come in the morning and older boys come in the afternoon, in the class. There is no D.A.R.E.. I go to school at seven-thirty in the hot days and cold days is six-thirty. Not switch classes. The teachers switch classes. There is mostly women teachers like in US schools. Children go to school on Mondays through Fridays like in US school. I like US school because there is cafeteria for kids. There is calculators for helping kids. There is computers and big classes for kids. I like Pakistan school because there is teachers switch classes." And this is where she stopped. [Laughter] Did that jog your memory of anything that you wanted to say? At the very end?
NP: Yeah.
MC: Uh-huh. Did it make you think of anything else?
NP: No.
MC: [Laughs] Are schools, uh, when you left Pakistan-.
NP: // Uh-huh. //
MC: // -Um, // and Mariam was in school there, was her school experience, in terms of learning English-.
NP: Uh-huh.
MC: -Very similar to how it was for you or very different?
NP: Some things different-.
MC: // Uh-huh. //
NP: // -And // some things similar.
MC: OK. OK, perhaps just from the change in time.
NP: Yes.
MC: But Mariam, who was, when she left, she was in fourth grade-.
NP: // Yes. //
MC: // -When // she left? She was just starting to get into English at a more serious level?
NP: Yes.
MC: All right, well, I think we've probably answered, um, all of the questions to the best of our ability right now. And I thank you very much for your help.
NP: You're welcome.
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