7 free ways to meet your #VocabGoals

#VocabGoals

#VocabGoals

What is your vocabulary score on this fun test? I got 3560/4000 on my first try!

Learning new words is a great way to improve your English. We come across new words every day and can easily add them to our repertoire. In case you are wondering, here is the meaning of repertoire!

Here are 7 free ways you can meet your #VocabGoals and get a better vocabulary score than mine!

Read. A lot. There is just no substitute for reading as an excellent way of acquiring new words. Underline any new words you come across while reading, unless it’s a book from the library! Guess what they could mean by reading the text and thinking of the context in which they have been used. Now see the dictionary. How off were you? Not much? Very good! Now note down the meaning of the word in your personal word journal.

Listen to podcasts. Don’t have time to read? Podcasts are your new BFF! What’s great about them is you can subscribe to the ones you like and can listen when you please; driving your car, riding the metro or even cooking! Do remember to write the new words you learn in your word journal. Don’t worry about finding podcasts, there are tons to good ones.

Download a vocab app. Learn on the go using any of the thousands of vocabulary apps which you can download on your phone. Try out activities, play games, rank on leader-boards. Learning was never this fun!

Play word games. Can you complete the daily crossword in less than 20 minutes? What about Pictionary? Word games are a great way to make things fun and challenge yourself. Once you are confident playing on your own, try some multi-player games. For now here are some good ones you can start with.

Use social media. Join an English language learning Facebook page like the British Council’s English in India page or the LearnEnglish British Council page.  These pages post a number of words, vocabulary learning tips and games every day. You can also participate in contests, interact with other learners and ask questions. Learn, with a little help from your (social media) friends!

Set a vocab goal. Nothing like a goal to work towards and motivate yourself. Set yourself a target to learn a certain number of words every week. How many weeks in a row can you learn 21 new words, three for each day of the week? Post your words of the day on your Facebook page to keep count. This way you can also share what you are learning with your friends. And don’t forget to reward yourself once you achieve your #VocabGoals.

Use new words. Practice makes perfect. Use the new words from your word journal while you are writing or speaking. Think of if they had the desired effect on your reader or listener. Did they make your communication better? Use them again, this time with more accuracy and confidence! Now they are part of your repertoire. See what I did there?

So, what are your waiting for? Go get your #VocabGoals!

Post by – Shivangi Gupta, Head Business Development English (Customers) India, English

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Multiple perspectives on multilingualism

Seventeen of the scheduled languages are featured on Indian rupee banknotes

India boasts one of the largest number of languages for any country on earth, with 22 languages awarded official status and referred to as ‘scheduled languages’. English is termed an ‘associate official language’. Depending on how they are counted (and who is doing the counting) there are as many as 6600 other languages spoken and used across the country – some by very small percentages of the population which can still equate to large numbers in a country of 1.2 billion people.

The British Council is well-known for its work relating to the English language, including working with teachers to improve the way that it is taught within education systems. Our position is to support the development of English as a skill alongside the development of learners’ mother tongues and other national languages. To this end, we actively support research into multilingualism and English as a medium of instruction in order to facilitate a shared understanding of what works in practice and where there are significant challenges. This has been realised in several ways in India, including by hosting a roundtable event on multilingualism in 2014, hosting the Language and Development Conference in Delhi in 2015 on the theme of multilingualism and development and most recently through a partnership on a research project initiated by the University of Cambridge and the University of Reading in the UK.

This project, Multilingualism and multiliteracy: raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India was recently launched through a consultation event at British Council Delhi. Alongside the team from the two UK universities, led by Professor Ianthi Tsimpli and including Professor Jeanine Treffers-Daller and Professor Theodoros Marinis, co-investigators from key institutions in India, Dr Survana Alladi from Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay from the English and Foreign Languages University Hyderabad, and representatives of other partner organisations also attended. This breadth of representation from different sectors, cultures and organisations led to a rich discussion on the issues surrounding multilingualism in India and the impact that this can have on learning.

These questions will continue to be explored through the research study, focusing on young learners in Bihar, Hyderabad and Delhi. In particular, the project seeks to contribute to the body of knowledge around how different mediums of instruction can impact on literacy, numeracy and higher level cognitive skills. The study will also examine the extent to which geographic and socioeconomic factors affect development in these areas. Furthermore, the research project includes a strong focus on capacity building for all involved – including a network of research assistants and PhD students – and seeks to drive impact through a range of dissemination events and channels as the research gets underway. The project will run from 2016–2020.

Watch this space for further updates.

Back row (from left to right): Rajarshi Singh, Pratham; Prof Ganesh Devy (People’s Linguistic Survey of India); Prof Minati Panda (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay (EFL-U); Prof Ianthi Tsimpli (Univ of Cambridge); Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller.  Front row (from left to right): Prof Theo Marinis; Prof Ajit Mohanty (retired from JNU); Prof Rama Mathew (Delhi University)

Back row (from left to right): Rajarshi Singh, Pratham; Prof Ganesh Devy (People’s Linguistic Survey of India); Prof Minati Panda (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay (EFL-U); Prof Ianthi Tsimpli (Univ of Cambridge); Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller.
Front row (from left to right): Prof Theo Marinis; Prof Ajit Mohanty (retired from JNU); Prof Rama Mathew (Delhi University)
Also present but not pictured: Dr Vasanta Duggirala (retired from Osmania University, Hyderabad); Dr Dhir Jhingran (Language and Learning Foundation); Dr Suvarna Alladi (Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences), Debanjan Chakrabarti and Amy Lightfoot (British Council India).

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Helping learners at NIT Patna get dream jobs

NIT Patna students engrossed in a group discussion

NIT Patna students engrossed in a group discussion

British Council successfully completed a Professional English Course for 50 learners at NIT Patna. This is a renewed partnership between British Council and NIT Patna after a successful training intervention in 2014. This time around we aim to train 500 learners (20 batches) at NIT Patna premises over four months (June- September 2016).

The 24-hour course comprises four main sections – interview skills, group discussions, CV writing and presentation skills taught at different levels – all aimed at helping learners bag job placements in their dream companies.

Students were seen participating actively in engaging, activity based lessons with several practice and feedback sessions built in for continuous improvement. Practicing their employability skills using simulations of real life scenarios has helped boost confidence in public speaking, improve fluency and prepare to sell themselves in interviews.

Student feedback has been very positive. Learners  particularly  appreciate the teaching methodology used and have quoted it as being ’perfect’ and ‘excellent’ in mid-course focus group discussions. On feedback forms 100% of learners were able to mention concrete takeaways from the course that will significantly improve chances of being placed with companies of their choice. They also appreciate the efforts of college authorities to liaise with British Council for English language training and requested us to ‘organise more (training) events like this’.

We hope to continue this training program successfully for rest of the 450 learners. As a team, we are very happy to partner with NIT Patna and help bright young minds to bridge the gap between capability and employability.

For more information on English communication skills courses please visit here.

If you represent an organisation and want to enquire about English communication skills courses, please fill the form here and we will get in touch with you.

Post by Tapsi Chhabra

 
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IITB, Mumbai starts again

British Council India will start its second training intervention at IIT Bombay (Mumbai) in August 2016 for another two years. After the success of General English courses for first year B tech students, IIT Bombay has renewed its partnership with the British Council.

The training intervention started in 2014 and entailed training students who need to develop English proficiency so that they have improved study skills (to understand subjects taught through the medium of English) and are able to communicate confidently in English.

We trained 4 batches or 80 students each year (60 hours/two terms); who were aware that the ability to communicate in English would directly influence their performance.

Our lessons were activity-based and sought to engage the learners; it gave learners an opportunity to develop speaking, listening, reading and writing skills along with grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation.

The students could track their progress through continuous assessments during the course and received regular feedback from the teachers. The teachers ensured that learner training threads were an integral part of the sessions as that encouraged the students to be confident users of English who could take charge of their learning.

Students in their testimonials stated that they particularly liked the interactive methodology used in the classroom and found the teachers to be friendly and supportive. Most students emphasised that they had acquired more confidence to speak English not only in the class but outside the classroom too.

Teaching Assistants (3rd year students) and Student Mentors at IIT Bombay played a big part in making English lessons a success as they not only motivated the students to attend lessons but also set up weekend activities for learning English.

We look forward to making the next two years a bigger success!

For more information on English communication skills courses please visit here. If you represent an organisation and want to enquire about English communication skills courses please fill the form here and we will get in touch with you.

Post by Kamini Taneja

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British Council launches ELIPS 2 with Government of Maharashtra and Tata Trust

 

In March 2016 British Council signed a tri partite contract with the Government of Maharashtra and Tata Trust to launch an innovative teacher training project, English Language Initiative for Primary Schools – 2 (ELIPS 2) for primary school teachers in Maharashtra, India. ELIPS 2 represents a transition from more traditional model of teacher training to a more sustainable internally-supported approach which promotes holistic professional development through local communities of practice.

ELIPS2 will focus on primary teachers in government schools in Maharashtra and will take place over three years. In the first year, the project will cover nine districts in Maharashtra and in the second year the project will be scaled up to include the rest of the state. Following discussions with the government, it was agreed that the project would include initiatives for capacity building of the State Institute of English (SIE), establishment of Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) at cluster level for the nine districts and exploring the potential of online training programmes and social networking applications including WhatsApp to support teacher training and mentoring.

Building the capacity of the SIE through the development of a core team of English experts is central to this intervention and its sustainability. In addition, a teacher training and development model focussing on building the capacity of the state to provide appropriate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for teachers will be developed.  This will be achieved through a combination of face-to-face training, online learning through e-moderated and self-access courses, Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) at the cluster level, the creation of online communities through popular social networking platforms and a teacher mentoring programme. All of these elements of the project aim to put the teacher at the centre of his/her own development.

Master Trainers, and later selected Teacher Facilitators, will be supported with British Council resources to facilitate TAGs. Existing Kendra Pramukhs (KPs) will be responsible for administrative aspects of these groups. The project will therefore build the state’s institutional capacity to support and implement large-scale, long-term in-service teacher training programmes which do not rely solely on cascade training as the medium of delivery.

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To be or not to be creative

The winning entry of the Shakespeare in India drawing competition in the 8-10 year old category

The winning entry of the drawing competition for children in the 8-10 year old category

Last week, curtains came down on the Summer School 2016 with Shakespeare at British Council Kolkata. Children dressed as Titania, Ophelia, Shylock, Bassanio, Puck and a host of other characters regaled their parents with lines from Shakespeare’s famous plays. For three weeks, classes hummed with ‘To thine own self be true’ and ‘Romeo Romeo, where art thou Romeo!’ as children experimented with the bard’s sonnets, comedies and tragedies. Children were so eager to show what they had learnt and prepared for, that one little Hamlet forgot to die! Students were both happy and sad. One child summed up her feelings with “Heavy lightness”, an oxymoron she learnt on the course. Another student commented, “Why can’t classes at school be like British Council classes?” Parents said how much the children loved the experience. One mother said that her child had hardly ever spoken English before but has now been the narrator for a Shakespeare play. Prizes were awarded for costumes and for competitions, including art and favourite words, both real and invented: scrumplicious – a mixture of delicious and scrumptious, melancholy – described as a tricky word describing both sadness and happiness, synopsis, gargantuan, solicitious, and  soliloquy – a word that a 12 year old student felt described him.

When asked to write about ‘My favourite actor’ one child wrote “My little brother is an awesome actor because whenever we have a fight and my parents rush in to stop us, he acts like he is the one who is hurt more!” Given below are the two winning entries:

A Day in the Life of Me
by Utsa Mohana Mukherjee, (13-15 years category)

I tap my foot restlessly on the polished airport floor, looking at the clock hanging above the boarding gate. Around me, lost souls rush about, trying to reach their gates on time while I wait, because I am too early. The nervousness, lurking in the pit of my stomach makes me feel nauseous as I think of the people I will have to face when I reach my destination. The place I ran away from years ago with a vow to be a better man. I have learnt lots of things, and the time has come for me to return. I am going home. Fear, that my parents won’t be forgiving, exists within me, but hope dwells too, and I hope that their love for me is enough. I hope this day in my life won’t end with disappointment but rather with the happiness of a long overdue, familiar reunion.

The Magic of Shakespeare
by Risha Sharma, (13-15 years category)

Sculptor of literary wonders
He who was a wise fool
Taught us lessons by depicting blunders
Kindled warmth in millions of hearts.
Ecstasy, violence, tragic plunders
Stories that over our hearts rule
Patient teachings that strike like thunder
Ever loyal heroes and their loving sweethearts
Admired by people everywhere
Respected by moral good
Enthralling millions, the magic of Shakespeare is beyond compare!

 

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Sir Ian McKellen casts magic spell on Mumbai: launches Shakespeare on Film collection

Ian Mckellen addresses school children at the BD Somani school, Mumbai

Ian Mckellen addresses children at BD Somani school, Mumbai

The actor was in Mumbai between 23- 26 May, as a guest of the British Council and the British Film Institute, to launch the Shakespeare on Film Collection at the NCPA in Mumbai

Calm and collected. Sir Ian McKellen’s on-screen persona matches his real-life self. ‘Gandalf’ aka McKellen kicked-off his Shakespeare tour of India in the balmy weather of Mumbai, with an hour-long Twitter chat with fans from across the globe, on 22 May.

Having arrived the night before on a long-haul flight from London, McKellen was gracious enough to entertain questions from fans across the globe who enquired about his eating preferences to his favourite Shakespeare roles on-screen. Check out updates from the tweet chat here.

Having discovered Shakespeare “at the age of 9″, McKellen is known for his acting on stage in plays such as Macbeth, Henry IV; King Lear and Richard III. The next day, 23 May, he spent an entertaining evening, in-conversation with actor Aamir Khan at the NCPA, Mumbai.

With a full house, the nearly 1,000 audience members listened intently as both veterans discussed Shakespeare and acting influences.

It’s no surprise that McKellen is a master of the stage and that fact was exemplified when he delivered an impromptu performance of the Elizabethan play, Sir Thomas More, to a chorus of applause.

Ian McKellen with Robin Baker at the NCPA Mumbai talking about 'Richard III'

Ian McKellen with Robin Baker at the NCPA Mumbai talking about ‘Richard III’

The next day, McKellen screened his BFI classic RichardIII to a small gathering of Shakespeare fans from Mumbai.

The 108-minute screening was followed by a lively discussion on the influences behind the movie, between him and Robin Baker of the BFI!

 

 

Not just Shakespeare, McKellen is known for being a global LGBT rights celebrity having been vocal about his opinions from an early stage.

Ian at Kashish Opening Ceremony

Ian at Kashish Opening Ceremony

He was also the guest of honour at the Kashish MIQF festival on 25 May, where he also celebrated his 77th birthday with a cake-cutting ceremony. On the final day of his visit, Ian had a school engagement where he addressed children from the BD Somani school, who also staged a version of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. 

 

 

 

 

Further Reading: 

Alan Gemmell talks about Ian McKellen visit, Shakespeare and the Digital Open Call  

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Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 winners meet the Royal Couple

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meeting the winners of EdUk Alumni Awards 2016 in Delhi

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge meeting the winners of EdUk Alumni Awards 2016 in Delhi

The British Council had recently organised the Education UK Alumni Awards 2016 on March 19 in New Delhi to honour outstanding success in Entrepreneurship, Professional Achievement, and Social Impact by Indians who have graduated from UK higher education institutions.

The winners were Ankit Mehrotra for the Entrepreneurial Category who graduated from University of Essex and founded Dineout, a premier table reservation service in India; Nishad Chaughule for the Professional Achievement category who had studied at Leeds Beckett University and had made a name for himself as a filmmaker and student Academy award winner; the Social Impact award was won by Ria Sharma, an alumnus of Leeds College of Art for her initiative Make Love Not Scars, an organisation that has helped over 60 survivors of acid attacks medically, legally and financially.

The three winners were invited for the Queen’s Birthday Party celebrations that were held at the British High Commissioner’s residence. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Prince William and Kate Middleton were the guests of honour for the evening. The winners individually got the opportunity to interact with the Royal Couple.

Ankit Mehrotra, winner of the Entrepreneurial Award, shared his views on meeting the couple; he said “My first impression was “What a beautiful couple”. I was introduced to them as the winner of the Education UK Award for Entrepreneurship. They congratulated me for winning the award and highlighted how important entrepreneurs were for creation of new jobs in any economy. Both of them were very keen to know more about my venture. As I started explaining more to them, the Duke interrupted me and asked me if my business was similar to Opentable in the UK. As I said yes, he immediately mentioned that he exactly knew what Dineout was all about and what a great idea it was as he and The Duchess always had problems reserving tables in London and used similar services. We also spoke about my time in the UK and when I mentioned that I had lived in London for 10 years, and worked as an Investment Banker and then returned back to India to start Dineout, he mentioned that the next decade of business growth will be fuelled by entrepreneurs such as myself creating value for the society. They congratulated me once again, wished me for my continued success and then proceeded towards the stage.”

Writing about her experience, Ria Sharma, winner of the Social Impact Award said “I was ecstatic when I first received an invitation to the queen’s 90th birthday party to be held in Delhi and I was completely overwhelmed when I received a second email saying I would personally get to meet the Royal Couple. The experience in itself was a roller coaster of emotions, ranging from very happy to beyond elated. I had the opportunity to talk to Her Royal Highness, the Duchess of Cambridge about the issue of acid attacks. We spoke about numbers, how frequently acid attacks happen and also about why they happen. The high number of cases stunned the Duchess, even though she had heard that acid attacks were very frequent in India. In the end she congratulated me, shook my hand and made her way towards the stage for the cake cutting. All in all, it was an experience I will never forget, I actually got to represent my survivors in front of the royal couple and it was an absolute honour.”

Nishad Chaughule, winner of the Professional Achievement Award said “I am extremely grateful for the opportunity given to me by the British Council to meet the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. It was an extremely surreal experience to meet the future King and Queen of England. I was delighted to be invited to such an event and feel that I am extremely lucky to be one of the few people to actually interact with their Royal Highnesses. They asked me about my work, and they both seemed genuinely interested in the kind of films I am working on or involved with which in itself was a great validation for me to continue doing what I am doing.

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Venice’s Othello turns into Meerut’s Omkara

The English Language Centre in Kolkata held a blog contest on ‘The Shakespearean film/adaptation that has influenced me most and why’. Sanchari Saha was one of three winning entries. Read her blog below

Four hundred years later, we still appreciate the world’s favourite playwright, William Shakespeare. His legacy of written works ensures his relevance to society, past and present. His characters and stories reveal universal truths about the human condition in a way we can all relate to; whether it is the tragic outcome of unchecked greed and ambition, an unrelenting desire for revenge, or the pursuit of love. His representation of human nature is just as real and as relevant today, as it has been through the centuries. Even now directors and producers all over the world make films which are inspired by Shakespeare’s dramas.  One such movie is Omkara, directed by Vishal Bharadwaj, an Indian director. The film is inspired by Shakespeare’s Othello. I have recently watched this movie and it kept me spellbound.

Vishal Bharadwaj had a vision to turn Venice’s Othello into Meerut’s Omkara and he made sure that vision turned into an epic reality. Omkara is a superlative and exhaustive work of passion and tribute, skill and style. What stands out the most is how most of the characters are dynamic and they teach us a lesson. There is a huge sense of catharsis at the end of the film which I liked the most. Characters like Indu and Omi grabbed my attention. The characters are very strong characters in a different way. Every actor does their part beautifully, but Saif Ali Khan is brilliant as Langda Tyagi. His dialogue delivery and authentic character lends Omkara strength.

To sum up, Omkara is about revenge, love for money and power, dark politics and jealousy. It is one of the rare movies where the antagonist receives more empathy than the protagonist. The movie is superb and is a must watch for cinephiles.

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Beatrice wins hearts with her wit

The English Language Centre in Kolkata held a blog contest on ‘The Shakespearean film/adaptation that has influenced me most and why’. Pranjal Mondal wrote one of three winning entries. Read his blog below:

“Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore
To one thing constant never-“
-Much Ado About Nothing (Act II Scene III)

A noteworthy work as far as Shakespeare’s comedies are concerned, Much Ado About Nothing needs no introduction. The wit of the characters, the excellence of the plot and the occasional powerful humour makes the play an unforgettable experience. When such an immaculate plot is handled by a director as talented as Kenneth Branagh, it is bound to be a visual delight. Directed and produced by him, Much Ado About Nothing compels admirers of Shakespeare to appreciate ‘the loftiest hill’ even more. There have probably been far better Shakespearean adaptations in the history of cinema, but this work has influenced me the most.
Through the skills of Branagh, both as an actor and as the director, justice has been done to the work of Shakespeare. The gentleness of Hero, the wit of Beatrice, the credulity of Claudio, the wisdom of Friar Francis, the villainy of Don John and so on have been dealt with in the best possible way. Moreover, Emma Thompson as Beatrice and Kenneth Branagh as Benedick have not failed to captivate the audience with their expressions.
Although the play is a comedy, there are certain serious elements that enrich the plot. First, the way Benedick voluntarily parts from his dearest of kin to stand beside the lady he loves is unprecedented. Beatrice too plays the role of a woman of strength by not deserting her cousin even in the roughest of circumstances. Through the film, Branagh rightfully glorifies them.
On the other hand, the viewers are away from disappointment as he equally vilifies the diabolic nature of Don John and the changeable and credulous mind of Claudio. There are numerous aspects in the play which reflect what the qualities of a true human being should be. Apart from qualities like loyalty and chivalry, the playwright conveys the definition of a true man through Benedick. Thus the work has permanently occupied a little niche in my heart.
I must say that Beatrice is my favourite character. She is adept at winning hearts through her wit. You must be wondering what my favourite dialogue is. It is the one that defines Beatrice’s wit the best, the one she uses to accept Benedick’s proposal- “I would not deny you, but by this good day, I yield upon great persuasion, and partly to save your life for I was told you were in a consumption.”

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