Author Archives: English Language Services

Taking part in webinars and online meetings

Video conferencing has become an important and increasingly popular means of communication in organisations all over the world, opening the door to operational flexibility and efficiency with policies such as remote working opportunities. According to a survey conducted by LifeSize.com:

  • 98% of respondents state that video conferencing helps with relationship-building inside and outside the company
  • 94% of businesses say video conferencing increases productivity
  • 90% of respondents say video makes it easier to get their point across and feel connected

On the other hand, webinars are emerging as a great online, interactive tool for information exchange and communication. According to a report by GoToWebinars:

  • 73% of B2B marketers and sales leaders say that a webinar is the best way to generate high-quality leads
  • 57% of marketers say that they will create more webinars next year

So how do we get the most out of webinars and online meetings? Here are some tips and strategies:

Webinars:

  • For organisers, consult others in your organisation or even have a vote on the topic of the webinar. You could provide a list of options which to choose from
  • Tailor content specifically to the target audience attending. The sign-up form can include a few fields in which registrants can enter their details. Use this information to tailor your messaging
  • Offer opportunity for engaging with the speaker(s) instead of having a one-way conversation with the audience. This could be via chat or voice or video calling. Ask questions and have the audience share their views and ideas
  • Provide incentive or value-adds for participation to encourage more signups
  • Ensure that you do follow up surveys and interviews after the webinar and incorporate the feedback given by respondents into subsequent webinars
  • For participants, it helps to take notes during a webinar to ensure you don’t miss out on any vital information
  • Ask questions and engage with the speaker to get the best learning experience from the webinar

Online meetings:

  • For organisers, its good practice to check your video/audio conferencing system beforehand
  • Ensure that you send a clear agenda for the meeting well in advance
  • Encourage participants to turn on their computer/phone cameras where possible to help bring a personal touch to the meeting. If someone is in an area with limited internet connectivity, it might be best to simply use audio and turn their cameras off
  • Define the flow of the meeting at the outset and keep a strict eye on timelines
  • For participants, there is sometimes a tendency to multitask while on calls, especially if they are not speaking. Best practice entails giving your full focus to the meeting and organizing your time to complete your other tasks before or after the call

Want more tips and tricks on how to make the best of webinars and online meetings? Join the British Council’s free, live webinar on ‘Taking part in webinars and online meetings’

In this webinar we will:

  • explore the rules of netiquette and safety in online meetings
  • practise communication skills for online meetings
  • describe how to use chat more effectively to boost your participation

When is the webinar?

Date: Thursday, 19 November 2019
Time: 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm IST

How do I join the webinar?

Sign up for the webinar by clicking here

We will share the joining instructions via email a day before the webinar.

This webinar is delivered through Zoom, watch this video on how to use it.

Sources: LifeSize.com, GoToWebinars

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Why are critical thinking and problem-solving skills important?

According to a British Council report, one of the main reasons these skills are so important is economic: critical thinking and problem-solving help people make better decisions about their jobs and livelihood. For example, 78 per cent of people living in poverty are in rural areas and are farmers. Being able to think critically about different approaches to water and grassland management may boost productivity and increase income. In some communities, adopting different breeds has grown milk yields by 65 per cent, and better grassland management has doubled the income of herders. 

Critical thinking- the stages

Critical thinking can be divided into seven stages:

1. Understanding the issue clearly without room for error or misunderstanding

2. Understanding the final goals and objectives, or outputs and outcomes of the exercise

3. Gathering as much information and data from multiple sources as possible to be able to make an informed decision

4. Getting multiple points of view on the issue to formulate a complete picture

5. Separating fact from assumption

6. Looking back at historical data to check for any learning which can be useful

7. Draw your most logical conclusion basis the above information

Tip: Discussions and group sessions are great ways to enhance critical thinking as they offer students a chance to think about things they care about and analyse the pros and cons of their thought processes to explain their points of view.

Free resources to help you develop your critical thinking skills: 

  • Improve your own critical thinking skills by doing free Sudoku puzzles. You can pause, print, clear, modify difficulty level and ask, ‘How am I doing?’ in the middle of the puzzle
  • Here is a great blog by Don Watson on the concept of critical thinking
  • For teachers, watch this sample lesson on encouraging critical thinking with the help of the map of the world.
  • Taking an online course is a great way to advance these skills. MOOCs, for example, will expand your professional knowledge and provide global perspectives from other participants who join from around the world. The British Council offers range of MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform, including ‘How to Succeed in a Global Workplace.’
  • Look for courses that focus on maximising opportunities for you to speak or write. A good course will develop your independent learning skills and offer practical learning activities based on real-life situations.

At the British Council, these skills are built into our course design. For example, our online myEnglish courses include communicative group tasks in live online classes – all under the guidance of an internationally-qualified and experienced teacher.

————————————————————————————————————————————-Sign up for our free, live online webinar and learn more about critical thinking and problem-solving skills that can help you advance in your career.

When is the webinar?

Date: Thursday, 17 October 2019
Time: 6.00 pm to 7.00 pm IST

How do I join the webinar?

Sign up for the webinar by clicking here

We will share the joining instructions via email a day before the webinar

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Teachers’ Day messages from some of our students

‘Teachers are the gurus who give you light when you are stuck in darkness.’
My above quote applies to every teacher that guides every student like me.
Beginning with that, I wish a blissful Teachers’ Day to everyone at the British Council!

I joined the Upper-Intermediate Course at the British Council to improve my written and verbal skills in English. The course was amazing and I look forward to many such courses.

The teachers that helped me in my journey were Mrre Mr. Rahim sir and Mrs. Ellora ma’am. They were amazing at their job and guided me very well throughout the course.

Rahim sir inducted me to the course and explained everything in a great manner. The classes I had with him were fun-filled and educational at the same time. He gave us awesome activities to do and assured me that I can reach out to him if ever I need some help. Thank you, sir for your hard work and support!

Coming to Ellora ma’am, she was the second teacher during my course. Only one word comes to my mind when I think about Ellora ma’am, and that is ‘FUN.’ She is the teacher who makes every class a joy to attend. I can remember so many fun things we did when the class was in session. I learned a lot from her and cherished her feedback and her way of speaking English!

There are many more teachers at the British Council I don’t know about, but I know for sure that everyone works hard to fulfil the goals of the students

A happy Teachers’ Day to everyone at the British Council!

Kabir Jain
______________________________________________________________________________
Dear Sheekha,

Just a quick email to convey my special thanks to you for my progress in the myEnglish Course.

I am glad to inform you that the course is going great and I’m enjoying every bit of it. I can’t stress enough how vital this course is for me. I was a little nervous before joining it as I thought it would be difficult to understand and participate. But it’s your able guidance and mentorship because of which today I’m feeling confident about speaking in English.

You always conduct the class in an open, friendly and informative way. Your way of explaining any concept is simply great. You always give apt examples which help us understand any concept better and remember it for a long time. You have given us every possible support in learning this course.
In the end, I’d just like to reiterate that you are an excellent mentor and I’m sure with your guidance, we’ll be able to achieve fluency in our English language skills.

Regards,
Amit Mukund
————————————————————————————————————————————–Dear Avinash sir and Ellora ma’am,

I’d like to thank both of you for your patience and all the important learnings that you gave us during the duration of our course. One thing that I’m taking forward from both of you is how to be a synergist.

I wish to join you again for another course. With lots of love.

Isha Shreya
————————————————————————————————————————————–I want to share my feelings for Rajul.

Two-three months before, I had completed an online English course at the intermediate level, where I interacted with Rajul as my course teacher.

I would like to empasise the knowledge she has of her subject and her command over the language. Every moment I learned a thing or two from her. I always tried to match her language skills and accent. I always look up to her to correct my mistakes. She was always like a friend to the students, and very dedicated, calm and polite.

She always made me excited to attend the classes. I would be lucky if she could be my guide throughout my career.

Thanks Rajul for your immense support and guidance.

Ritu
————————————————————————————————————————————–Dear Teacher,

We’ve been always in a comfortable mode in the live sessions since day one and the reason behind that is you.

Getting your feedback in the forum was as regular as getting the daily paper at my doorstep.

Thanks for sharing your skills and for your patience.

I wish a long tenure for you as you have set the bar to platinum standards.

Thank you

Your student
Arunkumar Sengodan
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Dear Teacher,

Thanks a lot for teaching me so well. I would always be obliged to you for your guidance, and I have decided to become a trainer like you. You are my inspiration.

Happy Teacher’s day to you.

Thank you
Jaya
————————————————————————————————————————————–Dear Teacher,

Thank you for continually inspiring me to do my best. You helped me strive towards my goals. I found guidance, friendship, discipline and love- all in one person. And that person is you. Happy Teachers’ Day!

Yours
Deepak Aheer
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Dear Teacher,

I thank you for all you have taught me. You are the reason for what I am today

HAPPY TEACHERS’ DAY
Karthik
————————————————————————————————————————————–Dear Teacher,

Not every teacher carries the dedication and enthusiasm you do. You are a truly an inspiring individual who has taught us so much more than simply what was in the curriculum. You took much extra effort to help me with IELTS preparation. Thank you for everything.

Happy Teachers’ Day. 

Arun
————————————————————————————————————————————-Happy Teachers’ Day Rajul ma’am

You are awesome. Thank you for being my mentor

Vasundhara
————————————————————————————————————————————–To Savites and Rajul,

Thank you for inspiring and igniting my dreams- to be always learning.

Happy Teachers’ Day

Regards,
M. Pradeepa
————————————————————————————————————————————–Getting the proverbial ‘ray of light’ of knowledge was the main motivation for me to join this course. I wanted to improve my speaking, vocabulary and basic grammar skills. Our course facilitator was VM Reshmi.

She made sure all the students participated and interacted during the sessions. Also, she shared the self-study links with all individuals who were facing challenges with certain topics. This was a sign that the facilitator was giving personal attention to every individual.

Mid-week progress reports for each student were prepared very carefully, taking their progress into consideration, which was very helpful along the rest of the modules. Also, the content was very well suited to the syllabus.

Along with what was covered in the syllabus, Reshmi gave special help to us which encouraged us more. This was one of the key reasons that our batch had 95% attendance, and all credit goes to her involvement and feedback process.

With respect to the daily exercises, she provided us assistance if we were stuck anywhere via email.

Reshmi was also very passionate about why English is so important and gave real life examples during sessions which kept us motivated throughout the sessions. She always maintained a friendly environment with everyone so one would not feel hesitant in asking questions, which I think increased the participation of everyone, and all sessions were flowing along cohesively. She also used to remind us of the importance of completing the modules along with attending live sessions. She made sure to double check on the progress of each candidate, which imbibed a sense of responsibility among everyone, and we completed all modules before our last session.

Personally, this was the first ever live online English course for me, and I had a fear how it would go. But Reshmi did a great job in guiding and facilitating the learning for the entire class very smoothly. I would like to take this moment and give a shout out to Reshmi for being the ‘ray of light’ for me and helping me get ahead in my career with confidence by using the tips and tricks she shared. I would never ever miss an opportunity to take another course in future.

Very well driven course!

Thanks,

Ashutosh Mohanty

 

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Our winning Teachers’ Day message!

Dear Miss Reshmi,K. Santhanakrishnan

I am writing to you today to thank you for teaching a great online course.  You made this dry subject and serious knowledge interesting and fun, and I really loved taking your class and learning so much on this course.  I want you to know that you have been my favourite teacher since the course began. You not only taught in a different way to make us interested in learning, but you also understood our problems and helped us find the best ways to solve them.

I will surely miss you and things you taught us.

Thanks and regards

K. Santhanakrishnan

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The Anatomy of a Training Session

Author - Beth Caldwell, Head Blended Learning, English, India

A great training session doesn’t just start on the day of delivery. Planning is equally important and impacts greatly on effectiveness. Just as important is the consideration given to the ‘takeaway’, thinking about what you want to change or happen as a result of the training – what participants will be taking with them to apply in the real world. For example, if you were conducting a training session on the importance of communication skills in business, some of the key takeaways could be: 

  • Understanding the importance of good communication in business
  • Key business communication skills
  • Presentation skills and strategies 
  • Tips for good business writing

Training

Planning

  • Consider what the participants already know. Make sure the session is pitched for their level, needs and interests. You could share a pre-session questionnaire which will help you plan for this.
  • Decide what you want the participants to know beforehand. Share details of the session to build interest. Having clear objectives, pre-session tasks (if you are leveraging a flipped classroom model), a list of equipment needed and a brief biography of the trainer can all help prepare participants and whet their appetite.

Delivery

A good training session has clear stages that go from learning to application. One possible way to label these is Define-Inform-Connect-Resolve.

  • Define the issues, skills or development areas being covered.
  • Inform participants by introducing strategies, techniques, theories or models that can be applied to the above areas.
  • Connect participants to the strategies through practical activities such as role plays and discussions.
  • Resolve the learning through considering future and alternative applications of the strategies.

Takeaway

Training is a success when the participants can immediately go out and apply what they have learned.

  • Ensure you provide opportunities to participants to reflect on what they have learned as it applies to their own contexts. Make sure they always have something practical to ‘take away’ and apply.
  • Always ask for feedback after the training. It’s a great way to gauge how well participants processed the information and to find out what they enjoyed and what they didn’t. Use this when you are planning next time to create an even better training experience!

Sign up for our webinar on the ‘Anatomy of an effective training session’ by clicking here.

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Future-proof your ambition: 21st Century Skills for Workplace Success

Author – Beth Caldwell, Head Blended Learning, English, India

It’s a common situation: you want to shine brighter in interviews or at work. You wonder how best to get the job or promotion you want. You want that ‘X-factor’ that makes you stand out. The solution could be simple: focus on adding 21st century skills to your skill set.

Business communication skills

According to a LinkedIn survey, 57% of senior leaders say soft skills in business communication are more important than hard skills. Other than job-specific knowledge, the key skills needed in order to participate in a global economy and succeed in a rapidly changing work environment are known as 21st century skills. They include:

  • Critical thinking and problem-solving   
  • Communication and collaboration   
  • Creativity   
  • Global and cultural awareness   
  • Digital skills
  • Leadership and personal development   

Here are some things you can do to develop these skills:

  • Be well-informed about your profession through Internet-based research for personal development and to flex your digital skills.
  • Analyse ideas and concepts you read about: Think about the pros and cons of applying them in your own situation and develop your problem-solving abilities and creativity.
  • Discuss ideas with colleagues or others in your industry, face-to-face or in the virtual world, to develop your collaboration and communication skills.
  • Network with people in other states or countries for fresh perspectives and to build your cultural awareness.
  • Build your communication skills by commenting on articles, taking part in online forums and making the most of video conferencing.

Taking an online course is a great way to advance your 21st century capabilities. They can help you develop self-motivation, time management, digital research and communication skills. MOOCs, for example, will expand your professional knowledge and provide global perspectives from other participants who join from around the world. The British Council offers range of MOOCs on the FutureLearn platform, including How to Succeed in a Global Workplace’.

If you want to develop your communication skills in English, look for courses that focus on maximising opportunities for you to speak or write. A good course will develop your independent learning skills and offer practical learning activities based on real-life situations. At the British Council these skills are built into our course design. For example, our online myEnglish courses include communicative group tasks in live online classes – all under the guidance of an internationally-qualified and experienced teacher.

Whether independently or via a course, you will benefit from identifying and developing your 21st century skill set. With these skills in hand you can future-proof your career aspirations, stand out to employers and gain the advantage in the 21st Century workplace.

Join our free live online webinar and learn all about using online learning skills to get ahead in the global workplace.

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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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Make meetings matter – Expert tips to improve your meetings  

Meetings that run on endlessly or where everyone is preoccupied with their gadgets can be a frustrating part of work for most of us. Don’t jump on the ‘boring meetings’ bandwagon. Here are 4 tips to hold effective meetings that energise your team and leave clear objectives.

1The endgame   

Ask yourself what you are trying to achieve through this meeting. Clearly define to the group what will happen because of this time spent together so they will better focus in the meeting.  Share clear action items, like ‘by the end of this meeting we will have created a marketing action plan with timelines and decided on leads for each activity.’

The medium   

A face-to-face meeting may not be the best medium to achieve your outcome. A shared, collaborative document such as Google Docs provides, or an online meeting platform such as Zoom or Skype for Business can help your team review a proposal in real time. Project updates could be shared effectively through a project management tool or communication platform such as Basecamp, Asana, Slack, or Microsoft SharePoint. Our ‘myEnglish Workplace’ courses delivered online with a teacher to facilitate is a great starting point to practice and build confidence using online collaboration tools for meetings and more.

The invite 

2Meetings are more productive if you engage your invitees even before the physical meeting happens. The meeting actually starts as soon as the invite is sent out. Set a clear, specific agenda so people know exactly what to expect. For instance, ‘identify three business opportunities’ sounds more specific and organised than ‘discuss business development’. Include all the details so that people know the venue and what to bring. Perhaps you could set a task for attendees like ‘think of one key opportunity to share with the group’ so that everyone comes prepared. Effective communication like this helps build long-lasting and effective work relationships. For more tips on relationship building, read this interesting article with language tasks.

The preparation 

3Use the pre-meeting time to carefully plan your approach. Have discussions with key players attending the meeting to uncover any important or sensitive topics. Understand the team dynamics if you want people to collaborate in the meeting and don’t want any surprises. Get a preview of the participants’ thoughts before the meeting. This helps you anticipate concerns, questions or challenges so you can prepare clear solutions.

What are your top tips to make meetings more interactive? We’d love to hear from you so feel free to leave your comments below.

If you know someone who spends a lot of their time in meetings, share this article with them. You could also enquire about our ‘Managing Meetings’ workshop for organisations which focuses on preparation, planning and timing in meetings, and skills needed for chairing a meeting.   

Each year, the British Council reaches over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. The British Council works with top companies across sectors to design customised business communication-related solutions targeting specific needs.  Our Business English Training programmes are highly relevant, practical and customised to the requirements of the company. Our interactive, communicative methodology helps us create a unique and engaging learning experience for every participant in our courses.   

To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact us on 0120-4569000 or visit our website for more information.

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Planning your company’s L&D strategy?

English has emerged as the lingua franca for international business. The rise of the internet and multicultural organisations demands proficiency in using the ‘universal language of the internet and the world’ a.k.a English.

Here are the three main reasons why English language training should be your top L&D priority for the year.

Avoid communication breakdown: The popular request ‘Please revert/reply back as soon as possible’ may present a limited awareness of English and could be a direct translation from a local language, ‘Please reply as soon as possible’ is as effective and the use of ‘back’ is unnecessary.

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Non-standard English in international contexts causes confusion and poses barriers to building good business relationships. If not corrected, they can even lead to communication breakdown. To get quick and easy tips on Email writing and useful practice exercises visit here.

Save time, save costs: We spend 28% of our work week reading, writing or responding to emails according to The Muse and a massive 35% on meetings as published by Mashable India! The purpose of most communication in emails and meetings is to get things done. When employees improve their Business English, messages conveyed are clearer and further clarification is not needed. Colleagues then better understand what is expected and perform tasks more effectively. Many companies report that highly-paid senior managers often have to edit presentations and emails for non-standard English. If that’s the case in your organisation, it is time to consider English language training. With a range of resources and courses available, you can start right now with our free grammar practice app.

12 oct 3Boost confidence and propel leadership: You may hire people with excellent technical skills, but can they lead on projects that require a high level of communicative expertise? Effective language training empowers them to lead and perform beyond their job description. Don’t be surprised when a manager cracks that deal with a major client all on his own just because he/she recently attended a negotiation skills workshop!

Tweak your L&D plan todaysave costs and shape leaders by making language learning your top priority for 2018! You could start with our Podcasts for Professionals here with workplace contexts and embedded language practice.

Have you struggled with communication breakdown in the workplace and the high cost of training? What do you look for in language training programs? Comment below and let us know.

The British Council is the UK’s international organisation for cultural relations and educational opportunities. We create friendly knowledge and understanding between the people of the UK and other countries. We do this by making a positive contribution to the UK and the countries we work with – changing lives by creating opportunities, building connections and engendering trust. We work with over 100 countries across the world in the fields of arts and culture, English language, education and civil society. Each year we reach over 20 million people face-to-face and more than 500 million people online, via broadcasts and publications. The British Council works with top companies across sectors to design customised business communication-related solutions targeting specific needs.

Our Business English Training programmes are highly relevant, practical and customised to the requirements of the company. Our interactive, communicative methodology helps us create a unique and engaging learning experience for every participant in our courses.

To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact us on 0120-4569000 or visit our website for more information.

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