Monthly Archives: April 2014

What is it like to work in the arts in India?

“It is a very exciting time to be an arts professional in India. There is a sense of community and sharing as well as a sense of investment in growing something together”.

Latika Gupta is an art-historian and critic based in Delhi. Latika has worked on documentary films and photography projects tracing the history of Indian art and as a curator at the National Gallery of Modern Art and at KHOJ International Artists’ Association. Latika is currently studying towards a PhD in material culture and rituals in the Himalayas.

Latika tells us what it is like to work as an arts professional in India.

I think the opportunities for arts professionals, though having increased in the last few years, are still few and far between. Most work is on commission from private galleries and the opportunities to work with public spaces and museums are negligible. Additionally, professional opportunities are primarily in the contemporary arts sphere. There also continues to be the perception that if you work in the arts, it is akin to philanthropy, so in terms of remuneration, it is somewhat difficult for arts professionals to have a sustainable practice, especially as freelancers.

On the flipside however, given that the arts scene is still growing, it is a very exciting time to be an arts professional in India. There is a sense of community and sharing as well as a sense of investment in growing something together.

With this context in mind, the benefits of finding international opportunities which you can then bring back to your work are very valuable. I was commissioned to curate an exhibition from the permanent collection of the British Council in 2011. ‘Homelands’ toured Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru, Lahore, Karachi and Colombo between January 2013 and February 2014.  For this project, I worked with technical advisors as well as a fantastic team of arts professionals here in India- all of whom I learned a great deal from in terms of ‘best practices’. I also received a three-months research fellowship from CWIT for a project on Himalayan art. It was extremely valuable in terms of the resources I was able to use as well as the academics I worked with. This has informed my current research work as a Phd scholar at the Jawharlal Nehru University, where I am working on material culture and rituals in the Himalayas.

Are you an arts professional in India? What has your experience been like? 

Post by: Emer Coyle

 

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The Politics of Pronunciation

Accent is our identity, an oral fingerprint containing all sorts of information about our life.

Do you have an accent?

Helen Ashton began her talk with this question to the audience – very few said yes.

Collins in collaboration with English Partnerships department organised a talk on ‘The Politics of Pronunciation’ by dialect coach, Helen Ashton at the British Council in New Delhi on Wednesday 2 April 2014. The event was live streamed; and audiences in our other offices in Chandigarh, Hyderabad and Bengaluru watched the proceedings.

In her welcome address to the audience and viewers of the live webcast, Alison Barrett, Director English for Education Systems, British Council South Asia spoke about British Council and Collins’ shared vision to support teachers in their development.

Dr Elaine Higgleton, International Publisher, Collins Learning talked about the role of Collins in the field of education. Since 200 years Collins has been publishing dictionaries, atlases, school course books and has worked extensively with partners across the world. Through this talk Collins wanted to discuss a key issue faced by teachers: What pronunciation should we be teaching our students?

Also present at the event were senior management officials from Collins; Mr. Colin Hughes, Managing Director, Collins Learning, Mr. Krishna Naroor, Managing Director, Collins India and Mr. P.M. Sukumar, Chief Executive Officer, HarperCollins Publishers India.

Helen believes that accents reflect our identities, and no one way of speaking is inherently better than another. However, this doesn’t mean that pronunciation teaching should be abandoned altogether, rather it should be flexible. Voice is physical and is a result of the muscle habits that we develop over a course of time. Helen made the audience breathe, yawn, play with their tongue, do an Elvis lip and blurt out a trill, to name a few – all part of muscular exercises important in pronunciation teaching.

She mainly discussed Received Pronunciation (RP) which is said to be the ‘standard’ in spoken English. Pronunciation is one of the major aspects of language and with the language constantly evolving, RP is changing too. For instance, a study has revealed that even the Queen’s accent has changed over the years.

In English curriculum, pronunciation plays a key role and majority of the teachers have always hesitated to teach their students as they themselves aren’t aware of the correct pronunciation. To overcome this barrier, Helen presented key concepts and techniques that are useful for teaching various pronunciation models and can be tailored to students’ individual goals.

As she progressed through the talk she used different accents: Scottish, British and American to name a few.

To sum up the session, ‘Accent is how we pronounce words when we speak so EVERYBODY has an accent’. She concluded the event with the same question she had asked in the beginning Do you have an accent?

A resounding yes!

The audiences across our four offices comprised teachers, professors, principals, students, publishers, teacher educators and representatives for other educational institutions.

The Q&A session was opened out to all cities via Twitter. The talk helped the audience understand how they could incorporate these easy-to-use techniques into their teaching of pronunciation in a way that was practical and effective and created a huge impact on teaching and learning. The success of this event has prompted the roll out of similar talks for the English teaching and education sector.

More photographs of the event can be viewed here.

Helen Ashton trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with Distinction from the MA in Voice. She specialises in speech and accent work, which she teaches at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London. She has coached actors in many different accents for Stage and Screen appearances.

Helen is co-author of the pronunciation guide Collins’ Work On Your Accent which was published in 2012, and teaches English pronunciation to speakers of all languages. Helen also holds an MA with First Class Honours in History from The University of Edinburgh.

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The politics of pronunciation – talk by Helen Ashton

Collins in partnership with British Council India invites you to a talk on The Politics of Pronunciation by Helen Ashton.

ABOUT HELEN ASHTON

Helen Ashton trained at The Central School of Speech and Drama, graduating with Distinction from the MA in Voice. She specialises in speech and accent work, which she teaches at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), in London. She has coached actors in many different accents for Stage and Screen appearances. Helen is co-author of the pronunciation guide Collins’ Work On Your Accent which was published in 2012, and teaches English pronunciation to speakers of all languages. Helen also holds an MA with First Class Honours in History from The University of Edinburgh.

ABOUT THE TALK

Dialect coach, Helen Ashton believes that accents reflect our identities, and no one way of speaking is inherently better than another. However, this doesn’t mean that pronunciation teaching should be abandoned altogether. There is a middle ground: there is a difference between training people to talk like Received Pronunciation drones, and helping them to speak in a way that is expressive and clear to anyone listening. Although individual accents should be respected, there comes a point where pronunciation habits can be a limitation to fluency.

In this presentation, Helen will argue that pronunciation teaching should be flexible, and tailored to students’ individual goals. She will include examples from the Indian context and consider one of the key issues here that gets teachers arguing: should our children be taught English models of pronunciation or is it acceptable in this global world – for them to speak with Indian accents? She will also present key skills and concepts that are useful for teaching different pronunciation models.

There is space for both sensitivity and rigour within pronunciation teaching in India, and without either one of them, we are letting our students down. Read more here

ABOUT COLLINS INDIA

Collins is one of the world’s leading dictionary, schools, reference and language publishers. Founded in 1819 on the principle of “creating knowledge for all”, Collins continues to offer an exceptionally wide choice for all language needs.

With almost 200 years of dictionary publishing experience, Collins is one of the world’s most authoritative education and language publishers. By pioneering new approaches to publishing Collins will always provide people with the most up-to-date and accessible dictionaries and language learning products available.

Collins is best known in India for its dictionaries, language reference books and course books for international schools. In a major new initiative Collins has now launched skills books for phonics, spelling, ELT, mathematics and reading for children in Indian schools in grades 1 to 8, and will shortly be publishing course books covering ELT, mathematics, science and computer science also for grades 1 to 8 focusing initially on the requirements of the CBSE board.

Globally Collins publishing continues to grow, with over 60 eBooks and hundreds of apps now available.

You can follow some of the discussions on Twitter @inBritish and @TeachEngIndia with #Pronunciation

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