Collaborating, innovating, learning and unlearning: UK-India Education Week

It wasn’t the first time I’d visited and observed an educational system of another country. It wasn’t the first time I’d met international (education) entrepreneurs/leaders and had some dialogue with them. It wasn’t the first time I’d been in a delegation that brought diverse people together on a study tour.

The delegation at The Open University

The delegation at The Open University

Yet, it was my first time experiencing a group that ‘worked’ so well together. It was the first time that right from the moment that I received an invitation until I received a ‘thank you’ email, I found a warmth exuded by the hosts. Kudos to British Council India for making this week long UK-India study tour the first for me in myriad ways.

In such study tours, it remains the participants’ responsibility to grab the most that they can. And I did that. But this was assisted by the well-planned and diverse interactions I experienced. The British Council team had put together quite an eclectic blend of stimulants. From a school visit to a meeting with key members of a university, there was a range of conversations that helped me assimilate a lot of educational ideas, triggering strong forward-looking thoughts on the domain.

My favourite part of the tour was the time well spent in an elementary school in central London. Direct interaction with the leaders, teachers and the students gave deep insights into classroom pedagogy and the incredible climate of trust within the school. Reaffirming several aspects of our own organisation’s programme back home, it was an eye-opener and a reassurance at the same time.

Higher education visits seemed irrelevant to me when I first looked at the agenda. However, interactions here set the context for the formative years’ education in which Chrysalis, my organisation is deeply involved. The most exciting of these was the detailed conversations at The Open University. The power of ‘open’ learning struck me like it never has before.

A surprise bonanza for me was a sudden invitation to speak in a panel at the Education Innovation Conference in front of an audience of 150 key players working in education in the UK and India. An Indian perspective came pouring out when I had to speak about an educational leader’s approach to the fluid and ambiguous nature of global education. I couldn’t quite hide the joy when I received great feedback for the talk.

It was a week that emphasised the importance of collaboration, innovation, learning and unlearning. That the two countries had a lot in common, and yet are unique in their own way was made clear with this first person experience.

Post is by Chitra, Founder and CEO, Chrysalis.

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The CELTA course has had an immense impact on my professional life – Swastik’s #CELTA Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL (3)

Hi, my name is Swatik Guha. CELTA happened to me when I was on the verge of getting lost in the corporate rat race. Being a corporate trainer for over 5 years had turned me into a thoroughbred corporate professional for whom meeting deadlines took precedence over developmental needs of trainees. As I lurched through the corporate maze chasing the next promotion, I often wondered and questioned the efficacy of the pedagogical methods used in corporate training.

Some of the training techniques seemed too traditional, so I tried to innovate and introduce new ones. But with no formal training on teaching, I often found myself in at the deep end. At this time CELTA offered me a new glimmer of hope. A Cambridge certification in teaching English was reason enough for me to jump onto the course.

I remember walking into the British Council on the first day beaming with confidence. Even though, I expected to gain a new perspective on teaching English I had underestimated the magnitude by half. The variety the course offered soon left all of us scrambling to cope with the stress. Our very able tutors, Steve and Charles, were always there to guide us and pick us up when we stumbled.

The course was very well structured with observed teaching practice every day. I learned something new with every teaching practice and by the end of the course, I had the confidence to design my own lessons to teach English as a foreign language.

The CELTA course has had an immense impact on my professional life. Soon after the course I applied for a job at British Council, New Delhi as a newly qualified teacher and within a year of completing the CELTA course I started working at the same center I did the course from. The CELTA course has opened many new doors for me.

I have been teaching at the British Council for a year now and I have taught various age groups ranging from primary kids to adults. I have also taught a range of courses from general English to exam preparation course. The experience I gather at the British Council is rewarding as it helps me to become a better teacher every day.

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English is everything for me – Sanjay’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL (1)

Hi, my name is Sanjay Gupta. I have been learning English at the British Council for one year. English is everything for me and my hobbies include reading books, writing poems and listening to music.

I got to know about the British council through my friends. My decision to learn English was my lack of confidence in speaking, which improved drastically after joining the British Council. Apart from learning English, the one thing I will always remember is my first film club in British Council. It was an enjoyable experience, one I could share with new friends.

The British Council follows a good teaching methodology. After my course, to keep practicing and stay connected with fellow students, I am currently enjoying Edmodo.

My advice for friends would be to learn new things about the English language and enjoy reading, writing, speaking, watching and listening.

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Creative Writing Course at the British Council – Ashank’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL

Hi, my name is Ashank Chandra. I opted for the Creative Writing course at the British Council for two reasons: I wanted to be an English language teacher and I could always relate to writing. I had previously worked with startups after which I started writing commercially. It was a suggestion by one of my colleagues to join this course.

I have always been fascinated by the code of conduct that the British Council follows. Everything is extremely organised, the time schedules are fixed, and the books are apt and easy to use. The diversity inside the classroom proved to be the biggest advantage and the environment was extremely conducive for effective learning to take place.

The course was very well structured and dealt with each component of creative writing. The methodologies used to teach were different and easy to grasp for all the learners, making the classes engaging and interactive in nature.

This course has helped me in learning various aspects of English such as the appropriate usage of vocabulary, structuring of the text, how to express ideas more effectively. My favourite takeaway from this course was to learn how to make people enjoy my style of writing. The course has changed my writing style positively, as every time that I now sit to write a content piece, I know how I should frame my thoughts and structure them effectively.

Penning down my own thoughts was once a hassle for me but now it comes naturally. I find it easier to plan the plot for a story. I also practice different styles of writing which I couldn’t do earlier.

Most importantly, the changes that I have undergone as a person, surprises the people around me the most. I now talk and listen to people more patiently which is a result of the course. Seeing this, many of my friends have also joined different courses at the British Council.

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CELTA taught me the techniques of effective teaching – Lakshmi’s #CELTA Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL

Hi, my name is Lakshmi Sreedhar and I am currently a Teacher of English at the British Council.

A Chartered Accountant by profession.I signed up for CELTA at British Council in June 2016, Chennai to pursue an alternate career in the world of English language learning and teaching. CELTA, a globally recognised certification, offered by the University of Cambridge, paved a way for meeting people from diverse cultures and backgrounds. It provided a challenging platform that enhanced my skill levels to a more holistic approach to teaching.

The course included valuable inputs from experienced mentors on classroom management, engaging learners through activities, lesson planning and student evaluation along with real-time teaching sessions. I should say the course presented a completely new window into the language itself.

CELTA taught me the techniques of effective teaching, an alternate approach to understanding English, along with practical methods for engaging learners. In particular, the structure of the course combined with an excellent library, offering wonderful resources and tools made learning intense, hands-on and fun. The program learning experience, as we cruised through the course, was enriching and tremendous because we were given the opportunity to try and implement the tips, techniques, and feedback followed by a guided evaluation of the results, leading to perceivable progress. The TP sessions and challenging assignments, I believe, has equipped me to further hone my skills as a complete teacher.

A special mention needs to be made, about the wonderful team of CELTA program mentors I had, namely Robin, Usha, and Suganthi, who equipped me to navigate an intense and challenging course. The guidance and effective feedback provided helped in the successful completion of the course. The experience was invaluable as it taught me effective time management, kindled my creativity and improved my ability to plan and structure the class lessons.

The CELTA badge opens up opportunities worldwide because of its recognition in the education and corporate sector globally. In my case, I got a full-time teaching position at the British council in November 2016. I recommend this course for all those who love English, love teaching and for those looking to build a career in English Language Training & Skill development industry worldwide.

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I had finally taken the first step towards overcoming my fear of the audience and the stage – Hareni’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL (5)

I am Hareni Elango, an eleventh grader at Chettinad Hari Shree Vidyalayam. I am currently in Senior Secondary School in the Humanities Stream. I am passionate about the English language. I only possessed effective reading skills but my speaking skills were not very impressive.

I had stage fright which was visible to the audience. There were many instances when my speech was well prepared, but on stage, I failed miserably. I would sweat profusely, start stuttering and forget almost half of the speech. I was crushed when I walked off from the stage. It was utterly humiliating. I decided that speaking on a public forum was just not my cup of tea!

Being a member of the British Council, I came to know about the English Impact – advanced course, which piqued my interest. I joined the course and reaped phenomenal results within the first two weeks of the course itself. To be specific, after joining the course it made me eager to participate in more public speaking competitions and debates at school as well as outside. It motivated me to enrol for a virtual discussion on “Gender Equality” with the Indian International Model United Nations 2016 and participated with some students from the USA.

After the discussion, I was thrilled to hear the feedback on my performance from my class teacher. I felt satisfied and content. I had finally taken the first step towards overcoming my fear of the audience and the stage. The credit goes the British Council’s English Impact course. It also forged some new friendships which give me an opportunity to engage in some very interesting conversations and discussions.

Overall it has been an amazing and certainly helpful experience.

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My goal in life is to become an author – Kuhoo’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL (4)

I am Kuhoo Mitra. I am presently thirteen years old. My hobbies mainly include reading storybooks, writing short stories and drawing. My aspiration is to travel around the world.

In reality, I do not currently have too many opportunities to travel the world. However, I have another option and that is through books. Books always transport me to a place far from reality to places I have only ever dreamed of going to and, of course, to places I shall never be able to go to since they exist only in the world of books and fiction. A girl of class eight, still in school, I usually am cheerful and joyous and as many put it, extremely talkative. Coming to my dislikes, I absolutely dread Maths! Apart from that, there are quite a few things that I don’t like such as holidays when I’m forced to stay at home and Chemistry lessons in school.

My goal in life is to become an author and that was the main reason I joined British Council.

I have forever loved English, both as a language and as a subject. As I’ve stated above, I want to be an author when I grow up. Though I could speak, read and write English fairly well I felt that I needed to improve to achieve my goal in life. That was when my thoughts turned to British Council. I have been a member of this library since when I was very small, maybe seven. Even then I would come to the library quite often for various workshops including those about art. It first struck me when I was in class six that I needed to improve my English. There was more to this language than the stories and poems I had learnt in my literature class in school. I wanted to go into the depth of this language, find out more about it. It took me one more year to realise that the perfect place for this was none other than British Council.

I have been a member of this library since when I was very small, maybe seven. Even then I would come to the library quite often for various workshops including those about art. It first struck me when I was in class six that I needed to improve my English. There was more to this language than the stories and poems I had learned in my literature class in school. I wanted to go into the depth of this language, find out more about it. It took me one more year to realise that the perfect place for this was none other than British Council.

I don’t quite remember my first time here or how I had found out about British Council. But I do remember how I found out about the classes. Since I regularly visit the British Council Library, I know almost everyone there. It was one of the administrators who had first mentioned these classes while talking to me and my mother. It was decided- I would take these classes. Thus, I appeared for my level test and joined the British Council classes for the first time.

I have been part of the British Council for so long that today it’s almost home to me. I cry when I hear I’ll have to miss a class and though I know that I’ll be leaving this place after the sixth module, it still seems unbelievable that I won’t come here every week- something that I’ve been doing for the past two years. So, I can’t state one thing that I’ll remember about this wonderful time. There are loads of memories from this time that I will treasure all my life. The very first one is counting down my days to the next Saturday, that feeling of excitement on a Friday evening, the happiness in the air on a Saturday morning and, of course, feeling sad when the class comes to an end.

British Council has not only taught me the English language. It has also taught me certain values of life such as friendship. All activities in British Council encourage pair work and teamwork. And as we all know pair work and teamwork help to build strong friendships because that’s when we help each other to succeed. There’s a quote which says- “Teamwork divides the task and multiplies the success”. Because of this, I made several wonderful friends here in British Council and they are people I can never forget. But most of all the people whom I shall remember forever are the teachers who taught me. They stood by my side not only when I was in trouble but also during moments of happiness. They are teachers who are very friendly and the learning experience is fun all because of them. I will never forget them.

British Council has also completely changed my views about learning. Before, learning to me meant burying my head into big, fat textbooks and mugging up chapters. School taught me that learning is about understanding concepts and being able to do well in your exams. From others, I heard that learning is just another synonym of ‘studying’. But after joining British Council I realised that all these ideas were wrong. Learning is about increasing your knowledge. To learn, you don’t need to study from textbooks. Neither do you need to get full marks in your exams. All you need to do to learn is understand and remember. But learning isn’t complete without an element of fun in it because I feel that to learn you need to enjoy learning more and more. And British Council is a place that is full of fun and enjoyment.

My advice to a person looking to learn something new would be to join an institute which allows people to think on their own, where, like at British Council, ‘no answer is a wrong answer’, where people have lots of fun through learning itself. And if the person wants to learn or improve his/her English or wants to learn something new about the language then I would surely recommend that he/she joins the British Council.

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The CELTA experience is all about ‘Focus’ – Shailini’s #CELTA Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

HUMANS OF BRITISH COUNCIL (3)

Hi, my name is Shalini Jain and I am currently a Teacher of English at the British Council.

Having spent 12 years in the UK, most of them working in a typical 9-5 setting, I felt a change was long overdue. I imagined doing something more creative and rewarding in my professional life. After exploring a lot of options, I finalised on teaching English as a Foreign Language (EFL). I have always been a linguaphile and I felt that being an English Language Teacher would enable me to experience life in more than one language.

When I went through the work prospects, it was apparent that if you are serious about EFL, then a formal qualification is a minimum requirement. On exploring all the available courses, I surmised that there couldn’t be a more reputable course in this field than CELTA.

I decided to pursue this course through the British Council because it is a highly regarded organisation and I could connect with the values that the Council stands for.

The CELTA experience is all about ‘Focus’. There was no luxury to be a procrastinator or a perfectionist! The four-week period was one of the most challenging and yet rewarding times for me. There wasn’t a lot of ‘learning’ involved, as much as ‘unlearning’- of notions, perceptions, and skills to deal with people.

CELTA is all about ‘learning by doing’. We were teaching students from Day Two. It seemed daunting at first, but by the end of week one, we had started to learn the ropes of English Language Teaching (ELT).

Our tutors – Steven, Vandana, and Robin were our lighthouses! They demonstrated excellent models of teaching. During our feedback sessions, they offered personalised constructive input which enabled us to improve our teaching skills significantly.

There was a lot to be learnt from fellow CELTA trainees too. The class environment was rich because of people from different personal and professional backgrounds. It was not a competitive course at all, and everyone was supportive of each other. We bonded over colours, scissors and glue sticks like 5-year-olds!

On most days you feel like an android- sleepless nights, long days, living on caffeine shots and sugar rush! Even so, I would recommend this course as the best way to get a solid footing in the fascinating world of ELT.

CELTA has enabled me to reskill myself as a teacher and create a more rewarding career path. It has helped me regain a sense of purpose and achievement both professionally and personally.

When I interact with students of various nationalities, I gain an insight into different parts of the world. Through discussions with my colleagues, I unleash the power of collaborative working. By observing senior teachers and connecting with teachers across the globe, I draw inspiration to enhance my teaching skills.

It is ultimately a dream job and I want to teach in as many countries as I can.

 

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Pedagogy is an art and urgently needs to be implemented into our education system – Sayed’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

Humans of British Council

I am Sayed Faiz Tanvir. I was born and brought up in New Delhi. Since 2010, I have been living in Bangalore and have been working in the IT industry in different capacities.

As a young student at the Jawaharlal Nehru University (New Delhi), I could read and write pretty well, with a few grammatical mistakes. Speaking was a major impediment to me.

This year I read about the British Council in a national daily; most probably the Times of India and enrolled myself on a course. The best part of the quality of education was that it was not a ‘learn by rote’ methodology. I learned many valuable things, had fun and always felt motivated. The teachers never put a dent on my morale.

And has my view on learning changed in any way after my time at the British Council? Yes, of course! I have stopped reading books on grammar; as I feel these are often too tedious and clumsy and even after hard work it’s difficult to grasp many grammatical rules. Instead, I visit the web portal advised by the British Council teachers and do exercises with more comfort and enjoyment.

Finally, I would like to say, try innovation. I think pedagogy is an art and urgently needs to be implemented into our education system. One should and must visit portals and learn online.

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Barkha’s #CELTA Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

Humans of British Council

Hi, my name is Barkha Vahi and I have been a teacher for five years now and have taught at private schools, corporates, and language schools. I had completed another initial certification in EFL teaching which only motivated me to do The Cambridge Certificate in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (CELTA). When I started teaching and looking for prospects abroad, one name which came up, again and again, was CELTA and I couldn’t have avoided acquiring this certificate. As an ELT professional, I couldn’t imagine a pathway forward without having completed CELTA.
CELTA lived up to its reputation of being super intensive. Even though I had previous experience in teaching, CELTA gave me a fresh perspective to a lot of concepts which I dismissed earlier. Initially, it was difficult for me to be able to adapt to all the input but when I sat down to analyse everything pragmatically, it just seems to flow so logically. My teaching changed forever.
Now every time I walk into my class, I know exactly what I am doing, how I am doing and why am I doing it. As a teacher, CELTA has raised my awareness of different learning styles, learner needs, and managing learner expectations. It has helped me so much in planning lesson aims and achieving them by the end of the lesson. CELTA has been a great experience. I am in touch with my tutors and seek help if need be. It has opened doors for me globally and gives me an edge in the industry.
I would recommend this course to anyone who is seriously thinking of getting into the ELT industry.

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