Category Archives: myEnglish

MBA Students to Actors: How Everyone Is Benefiting From a Change in Tech and Education

[As appeared on The Better India, October 2017]

Using live online classrooms and guided online activities, these teachers are changing the traditional model and bringing the classroom to their students across India.

myEnglish teachers at the British Council, India are guiding adult learners to achieve success through interactive online English courses. Unlike most teachers however, their job comes with a twist – their classroom exists in the virtual world!

Read responses from some of our myEnglish teachers to questions about their work and their students.

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How did you get into this very 21st century way of working?

Purbani: “I was given an opportunity to be a part of an online teacher-training programme. The course opened new avenues for me and I realised that online teaching might just be the future of education”.

Avinash: “I’ve always been interested in the use of technology in making learning engaging and more accessible. I’d had some experience as a student and was interested in the implications it had for a teacher. I felt there were several possibilities to be explored with online teaching.”

Huma: “The excitement of doing something so new and the fear of the unknown meant it would expand my teaching skills as well as give the flexibility and convenience of working at my own pace in my own space – something I had been long wishing for.”

Ellora: “I love teaching online. It allows me to work from home which saves time and allows flexibility”.

Rajul: “I can see all my students; I connect with them online and deliver classes prepared for them in a relaxed, fun manner without feeling the need to travel and rush into class from home. I am teaching from home! Even the students don’t have to go to class; the class comes to them wherever they are”.

What’s a typical week on a course like for your students?

Huma: “Interactive, practical, exciting, and demanding nevertheless! Everything that happens in a face-to-face class is possible here. The only thing different – the location, of course”.

Purbani: “A student spends around five hours of study on online activities per week and meets the trainer and the classmates for two hours over a live online session. The study time can be spread across the week or can be spent on two consecutive days – the flexibility is key”.

Avinash: “Students complete their online activities in order to prepare for the forum discussions and online classes as they’re linked and build on each other. They respond to forum posts and add their own. This gives them a chance to practise the language they’ve learned and this gives me an opportunity to respond to their opinions and ideas and give individual feedback”.

Rajul: “They also review videos to recap their learning, increase their vocabulary and access the website to explore and learn more. Unknowingly they learn to manage their time and study independently, overcome their fear of writing and gain confidence in their speaking. They communicate with others without hesitation in real life situations”.

What are the benefits of teaching and learning in an online format? Have you faced and overcome any challenges?  

Huma: “I’m neither a technophobe nor am I tech-savvy. Like some of my students, I’ve had to work my way through handling technology but it’s been fun. I tell myself that I’ve been developing some 21st Century skills!”

Purbani: “In a face-to-face classroom, we often see that the learning stops once the learner leaves the classroom. On an online course, the possibilities of learning are limitless”.

Avinash: “One of the main challenges both learners and I have faced as a teacher is time management. In my experience, setting realistic weekly targets and working frequently and for shorter durations has helped most students and me have an enjoyable and enriching experience on the course”.

Can you share any success stories?

Rajul: There’s a student who was not even ready to write or talk to anyone because he didn’t feel confident. He’s currently enrolled in an MBA class! Another student was unwilling to speak in class. He would just say ‘I can’t’. After the course, he got selected to appear for a TV interview”.

Huma: “One of my students has special needs and passed the course! This also goes to show that we are truly inclusive and the courses are meant for everybody”.

Avinash: “I taught an award-winning actor. She wanted to develop her fluency and accuracy as she had upcoming projects in international films. Over 3 courses she has developed her accuracy to a great degree, especially in pronunciation, and is now so much more confident with intonation and emotion in the English language.”

Purbani: “At the formal launch of myEnglish courses in August a former student of mine spoke to the gathered press in an eloquent manner about his wonderful experience on our online courses”.

Ellora: “A student from my class wanted to speak better English so he could study International Law. When he joined my class he had scored a 5 in IELTS. He completed the whole level and took his IELTS again, he scored a 7.5. He’s going to Canada in 2018 for his studies”.

The clock is ticking. What's your

Pave your path to success by being a part of the British Council’s online courses. Click here to learn more about our online English resources to help you improve your fluency, accuracy and confidence.

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What makes an online course click?

The article has been authored by Beth Caldwell, Head Blended Learning, British Council India.            [As appeared on Hindustan Times, 20 September 2017]

The education system in India, and across the globe, has undergone many transformations. It has evolved from community sessions in open spaces to classrooms with blackboards, to being truly online and on-demand. Today, technology is at the heart of everything that we do, including education and learning. The proliferation of gadgets and access to the Internet has democratised education and given a level playing field to anyone who wants to improve or enhance their level of proficiency in any subject. As per a recent Google-KPMG report, the Indian online education sector is expected to grow eight-fold to a USD 1.96 billion industry by 2021, owing to increased smartphone penetration and increasing data speed. 99811

These statistics and estimates are impressive and promising, and there is no doubt that millions of individuals are inclined towards online courses given their multiple benefits such as ease of access, flexibility, personalisation etc. The demand has given rise to a multitude of online course providers and the development of MOOCs designed by faculty members from prestigious universities the world over. Hence online course seekers today, especially working professionals, have multiple courses and provider options to choose from depending on their schedule, the current level of subject knowledge, additional skill requirements at the workplace and course content and budget, among other considerations.

Given the complexities of modern-day lifestyles and growing workplace skill demands, the popularity of such courses in the long-run seems very promising. The only question now is if learners benefit from such courses and if these online courses are delivering the promised value. It is time to assess all online courses on one key parameter – effectiveness! Are the learners who have enrolled for such courses getting the maximum value and learning what they expected to or were promised? Are these courses simply cashing in on the need or are they actually delivering results? Or, at least, ensuring progress? Yes, technology has enabled access and provided more tools – e-classrooms, e-books, video tutorials – and facilitated greater collaboration through connected workplaces, remote working, virtual presence and annotation capabilities. But there is a need to utilise this all-powerful platform in the right manner. There is a need to ensure that the AR/VR headsets, e-classrooms, etc. act as tools that truly foster and catalyse learning rather than going down in the history books as ‘disruptive ideas that had immense potential’.

97494Hence, the real success of online courses should be measured by learning outcomes rather than just access. On how many students learnt vis-à-vis how many students enrolled. How much the students remembered and applied vis-à-vis how many modules they attended. Effectiveness and end result must be the parameter for both course providers as well as the customers. For instance, there are many online courses for improving one’s English proficiency, but do these courses ensure effective learning? Are these courses designed and structured in a way to ensure the desired learning outcomes for the learners? At the core of this discussion lie the basics of teaching. All our experience and research in the area of English language teaching proves that student-centered learning is catalysed through techniques using a communicative approach, such as classroom discussions and guided discovery, so that learners develop their independent learning capabilities and learn from and interact with each other, rather than passively receive information. Guidance and regular feedback ensure that learners progress and achieve their learning goals, and meaningful tasks based on real-life situations help consolidate what has been taught. Just as in our physical classrooms, this ethos is also behind the design of our online English course myEnglish.

Given that the platform, the experience, the environment and the tools are all relatively new, especially to the majority of the learners taking up such courses, the real magic of technology lies in creating a user-friendly and interactive environment that learners can relate to and are comfortable with. The onus also lies on the course developers to include effective teaching and evaluation techniques in the delivery structure and ensure that technology is effectively utilized to ensure success. Looking at the example of an effective online English course – yes, it must be available on demand and across devices – but should also offer an environment conducive to learning and a methodology that replicates effective classroom pedagogy, using techniques that enable progress. Hence, an online course is only successful once the learners effectively recollect, not when they simply connect (to the Internet)!

Find out more about our English courses and resources to help you improve your fluency, accuracy, and confidence: www.britishcouncil.in/English

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Improve your speaking skills for the workplace

Written by Neenaz Ichaporia, Academic Manager, Blended Learning  

Do you want to speak more confidently at work? Many of our students feel the same:

  • “I have good knowledge of my field. But because of my weak communication skills, I am not able to convince my customers. I can do better if I improve my skills in public speaking.”
  • “I have obtained a higher position at work, but my English is too simple. Sometimes I find it difficult to explain some situations.”
  • “I always have this feeling that my English is not good enough. Improving it will help me in my career by boosting my confidence.”

As English is the international language of business communication, professionals are looking to improve their speaking skills. There are three main areas to consider:

  • Fluency
  • Business communication skills
  • Pronunciation

People lack confidence in speaking English when they don’t have enough chances to practice. If that’s you, don’t worry! You can improve your speaking by using online resources.

Improve your fluency

CaptureThis is the ability to express ideas quickly and clearly. This does not mean talking quickly – that can be very confusing for your listener!

  • Use the ‘You’re Hired’ series from the British Council Learn English website. It helps you learn skills for finding a job. Watch the videos and then practice the dialogue.
  • To improve anything, you need practice. So, practise speaking out loud, even if you are alone.
  • You can use the BBC’s Get that Job series. The activities and quizzes build your knowledge of job-related vocabulary.

Improve your business communication skills

At work, you may need to do different tasks e.g. making a presentation, attending a meeting, or answering a telephone call. It’s helpful to learn useful language and the ‘dos and don’ts’ of business communication.

  • Listen to the free Professionals podcasts from the British Council to improve English for your career. These are useful for intermediate to advanced levels.
  • Use the pause button and repeat whole phrases after listening. This will help you say them right and remember them.
  • Note down new phrases you hear and use them in conversations at work.
  • Are you a job seeker or a young professional? You can do the free short course English for the Workplace. This will help you with language to find and start a job.

Improve your pronunciation

ChartHaving good, clear pronunciation can help you communicate clearly and sound more professional. Here’s how you can learn the features of good pronunciation.

  • Start with individual sounds. Practise these out loud to better say them.
  • You will find phonemic script very useful. It’s used to describe the sounds of language (not the spelling). The British Council has a free phonemic chart to download as an app.
  • Understanding phonemic script is useful when you’re looking up words in the dictionary. Most good dictionaries use this to show the pronunciation of words.
  • Do you know which sounds you find more difficult? Listen to and practise these sounds out loud.

We hope you have found these tips useful and are motivated to go online and practice. This will help improve your speaking skills and confidence.

Sign up for a myEnglish Workplace course to boost your career prospects. This online course is delivered by expert British Council teachers. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to learn live from the experts! Register now.

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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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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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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 myEnglish 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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From Learning English to Building Confidence – Benazir’s Learning Journey – #HumansofBritishCouncil

Benazir Roshni Imroz

 

Hi, I am Benazir Roshini Imroz, an undergraduate student in English Honours (3rd year), from A.J.C Bose College under Calcutta University. I want to become an English teacher or professor because I love teaching. After giving my first-year final exams, I thought about learning English. Though I wanted to become an English teacher, I also wanted to ensure that I made no mistakes in English. Hence, I got in touch with British Council.

Apart from learning the English language, I also learned manners, politeness, and discipline from two of my English teachers – Neha Bulsare and Maya Waldman during my CELTA classes. They might not know that I was also learning much more than just English from them, as it seems to come naturally from their side, but all these opportunities which I got, were only because of my teachers and the British Council.

I had always struggled with “tenses”. That too was cleared up during my classes and nowadays neither do I hesitate in writing any applications nor I hesitate while speaking. My advice to friends and learners is to play with words and sentences, as this will make their learning interesting and help to remember things for a long time as well as encourage you to learn more.

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How did I ace my course? Successful time management strategies for myEnglish

Why do some students do better than the others on online courses? Most adult language learners lead a very busy life. It’s a struggle to find a work-life balance. Add to that the workload of an English course and you may suddenly feel overwhelmed! We spoke to three highly successful myEnglish students, who gave us tips on tackling online study.

Ishrat Ishrat Pirani is a student in Mumbai and myEnglish was her first experience of online learning.

Sayed

 

 

Sayed Faiz is an IT professional. He’s an online learning pro, having done multiple myEnglish courses.

 

1Pranav

 

 

Pranav Ingle works in the education sector. He learnt about the myEnglish course from his boss, who recommended it to him.

 

  1. Keep your goals in mind. Remind yourself why you’ve enrolled for the course. Your improvement and investment in the course can be your key motivators. This helps keep you focused.
  2. Do a little, but often. Don’t try to do all your coursework at one go. Log in whenever you have a few minutes to spare. This will make the workload more manageable.
  3. Keep the task in mind. myEnglish discussion forums and assignments give you the chance to use the language you’ve learnt each week while communicating with others. So try to make sure you’re using the target language. Look carefully at the task assigned to you and focus on answering the question closely.
  4. Organize. Keep notes of your coursework. You can use a word processing program like MS Word to organise any new language learnt. This will make writing revision less time consuming.
  5. Do make use of teacher feedback on your forum posts. You can ask your teacher any language question on the Language Help forum. Keep a list of questions you’d like to ask and post them once or twice a week. Remember to read your teacher’s response to each post. Take note of this feedback and as the weeks go by, you will find it easier to participate in discussions and make fewer errors.
  6. Improve your speaking skills by attending every Live Online Class. This is a wonderful platform to practice speaking and the language you have learnt on the course. Your teacher will also help you correct your mistakes. Regular and active participation in online classes will boost your confidence in speaking English.
  7. Enjoy learning.  Remember to have fun while learning. myEnglish allows you to participate in plenty of interesting discussions about real life topics and situations. Focus on topics that interest you. And remember to give yourself an occasional reward, like taking a short break from coursework or having a chocolate after completing an assignment. This will keep you motivated and the course will not feel like a chore.
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