Monthly Archives: June 2019

Future proof your business

In a Human Capital study conducted by Deloitte in 2016, 90% respondents rated soft skills as a “critical priority”. In this study, organisations indicated that communication and soft skills can enhance employee retention, improve leadership and build positive organisational culture. And yet again, LinkedIn’s annual learning report shows that 57% of senior leaders state that soft skills are more important that hard skills and they never go out of fashion.

Yet another L&D study, conducted in 2019, reveals that organisations with highly engaged employees are over twice as likely to prioritise soft skills training. Soft skills, including communication skills, are top priority for the majority of organisations in 2019.

After globalisation, which has resulted in the increasing importance of communication skills and intercultural fluency, the next big wave to have an impact on jobs is automation. As industry gets more and more automated, the jobs of the future will increasingly be those which rely on soft skills and the human touch. There is a growing emphasis on customer service, and impactful and professional communication skills will be in even greater demand in the new age of AI. More and more, jobs require greater creativity, collaboration and relationship building.

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Essentially, the only common denominator in L&D studies conducted over 1990s, 2000s and 2010s was soft skills. This is of no surprise to us at the British Council. We work with many organisations in India and around the world and have seen how our soft skills and communication skills training programmes make a difference to business performance. Productivity, collaboration, intercultural fluency, networking, creativity, customer satisfaction and communicative effectiveness are just some of the areas our training programmes cover. It also has a positive washback on the outcomes of other training programmes, which have English as the medium of instruction.

It is important for organisations and L&D professionals to consider these factors while designing their training programmes. Communication and soft skills training can future proof your employees and in turn help you set your organisation apart.

Author: Shivangi Gupta, Assistant Director, English India

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5 Tips to Become a Better Speaker at Work

Author – Neenaz Ichaporia (Academic Manager, Blended Learning)

How can you become a better, more confident speaker at work? Read the tips below for a range of useful ideas on how to do this. You’ll learn about websites, links and other resources that you can use. You’ll also learn how the British Council’s online language improvement course, myEnglish Workplace, makes you a better, more confident speaker.

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B2B Blog May 2019

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Assessment for learning in action in the classroom

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Author: Michelle Bambawale

Formative assessment or assessment for learning is a familiar term in education. Most teachers know the theory but struggle with the practice. I felt the same, till I took this Assessment for Learning Masters’ class, and experienced it firsthand.

For the first class, we had to read an article (Black, 2009) on formative assessment and were encouraged to posit our own theory. I did my homework, thought I had understood the concept and was ready for the teacher to explain it to us in class. Much to my surprise, she put us in groups and told us to discuss our ideas with each other, compare notes and see if we agreed or disagreed. I did not want to listen to what my peers thought! I just wanted to listen to what the teacher had to say. I wasn’t ready for either autonomy or peer learning.

Activating students as instructional resources for one another and activating students as owners of their own learning

I tried to ask the teacher questions directly, she guided me through the process of taking control of my own learning and peer learning, she asked questions like: ’What does your group think?’, ’Have you asked your peers?’ ’What do you think?’ I was required to redirect my attention to the group and construct my own learning based on the reading and the discussion. I felt very frustrated after this first class and hoped things would change, and we would be back to a lecture format. They did not.

For the next class, the reading was quite challenging, hence I really hoped the teacher would explain, it was on the power of feedback (Hattie & Timperley, 2007). She used a jigsaw reading in the classroom for us to discuss and understand the article. Left with no option and no teacher teaching, I decided to focus and slowly realised that I was learning from my peers.

Eliciting evidence of learners’ achievement

After about four classes, we were given an assignment to write a short paper on what we thought assessment for learning was and how we could use it. I had to push myself to reflect on the class and analyse the ideas and strategies used and how they had been effective. I was beginning to develop my own ideas, beliefs and theory on assessment for learning. I was learning from my peers and through self-reflection.

Providing feedback that moves learning forward

Over the course we worked on goal setting using the following steps:

  1. Setting personal goals: this was an individual activity as everyone was at a different place in their learning and also had different goals for themselves.
  2. Finding strategies to reach our goals: for me, these included reading related research papers, watching videos and discussing with my peers.
  3. Providing support: the teacher used several techniques like wait time, pair and share, and exit slips.
  4. Providing feedback which was timely, focused and precise and deepening learning by asking probing questions and suggesting readings.
  5. Reflecting on progress to develop self-assessment skills.

On reflection, I realised our teacher had used all the strategies for formative assessment in action in the classroom and I had learnt them through experience. I encourage you to do the same: reflect on your own teaching practice and try these strategies in your classroom. Empowering learners to take control of their own learning will enable them to do better and feel better about their own learning, just like I did!

Useful links:

Some ideas for self and peer assessment in the language classroom www.teachingenglish.org.uk/blogs/jvl-narasimha-rao/self-assessment-peer-assessment

Easy assessment for learning ideas you can use

www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/assessment-learning-activities-0

More ideas on Assessment for Learning

www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/assessment-learning

Read how to run a jigsaw reading in your English classroom www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/jigsaw-reading

Watch Dylan Wiliam elaborate on the five strategies discussed here in this blog, from his book Embedded Formative Assessment

www.youtube.com/watch?v=B3HRvFsZHoo

Read Black and Wiliam’s original research paper ’Inside the Black Box: Raising Standards Through Classroom Assessment‘ to understand how assessment for learning can work in the classroom.

www.rdc.udel.edu/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/InsideBlackBox.pdf

Bibliography:

Wiliam, D. (2011). Embedded Formative Assessment. Solution Tree Press. Hattie, J., & Timperley, H. (2007, March). The power of feedback. Review of educational research, 77(1), 81-112.

Black, P. a. (2009). Developing the theory of formative assessment. Educational Assessment, Evaluation and Accountability (formerly: Journal of Personnel Evaluation in Education).

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