Category Archives: English

Defining and measuring quality teaching: is it getting the attention it deserves?

Written by Amy Lightfoot – Assistant Director (Academic), Schools, English and Skills  

Who is the best teacher you’ve ever had? What made him or her ‘the best’? Was it because he or was funny, or kind? Or because she was generous with her praise … or selfish, so you felt you’d really earned it when it came? Or was it because he just really knew his stuff and how to make a class of 30 kids want to find out more? What are the qualities that make a good teacher … or the best teacher?

On a personal level, we can define our favourite teachers and easily discuss why we liked them so much. But do these personal judgements really tell us whether or not a teacher is good at his or her job? How can we best determine whether a teacher is really providing quality in the classroom? How can we best evaluate teacher performance, in a way that is supportive and helps the teacher to further develop her skills? These are some of the questions that have formed the basis of a recent project of inquiry led by the British Council.

We set out to answer these questions using a two pronged approach. First, we have commissioned a review of the global literature to try to better understand the different ways that teachers – specifically English language teachers – are evaluated around the world. Together with Dr Simon Borg, we have been exploring the varied terminology and strategies employed by different education systems to measure teacher and teaching quality. A clear outcome of this work has been the realisation that there is relatively little research conducted specifically around how English language teachers are evaluated or assessed. The full review will be published at the beginning of next year.

Secondly, we’re developing national-level case studies of practices, tools and processes used in teacher evaluation. The first of these will come from India. The purpose of these case studies is to shine a brighter light on specific contexts, setting out the current state of play and considering the contextual differences which may impact on the adoption of one approach or another when it comes to teacher evaluation.

To try and ensure as detailed a picture as possible of the varied India context, we convened a group of representatives from 23 different organisations and government agencies, along with several independent consultant experts, to share their knowledge and experience gained while working across the teacher education sector in India. Over the course of two meetings the group has wrestled with definitions, lamented the many challenges and shared inspiring stories of positive interventions and programmes taking place across the country.

Collectively, the group has identified what they believe to be the key features of an effective approach to teacher evaluation and considered the practical application of this at different levels of the system. This input is complemented by data from a series of focus groups with teachers, conducted across the country. These features and findings will be shared in detail in the case study report.

Several high quality tools exist, but consistent and standardised implementation at scale remains a challenge. An important message from the many of the participants has been the need for changes in beliefs, attitudes and behaviour at all levels of the system in order for teaching quality to be adequately assessed in a meaningful way. As one participant in the group said, ‘evaluation tools are useful but you have to create the culture, the organisation and the climate for them to work’.

Improving learning outcomes has become a key priority in India, as elsewhere, in recent years. Within this, it is clear that a focus on defining quality teaching and how this is assessed is extremely important. This project aims to continue the conversation about how to address this issue and offer some practical recommendations for moving forward at the school, state and national levels.

Both the global literature review and the India case study will be published in early 2018.

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English and Employability Skills for Higher Education Students in Andhra Pradesh

How we equipped 1800+ teachers to deliver the learner programme on the Andhra Pradesh Higher Education English Communication Skills Project.

The ten-day teacher training programme was delivered over three phases with 112 Master Trainers training more than 1800 teachers.

The training aimed to equip teachers with the required facilitation skills so that they can deliver a blended learner course focusing on employability skills and based around LearnEnglish Select effectively to the students. The ten-day teacher training programme focused on introducing communicative teaching strategies and methods, learner-centred techniques such as elicitation, collaborative learning activities that develop speaking, reading and writing skills of learners. Another key element of the training was to familiarise the teachers with the learner course materials.

The training capitalised on teachers’ general pedagogic knowledge (such as classroom management skills), and contextual knowledge of students’ social context and integrated teaching demonstrations where the teachers experienced taking part in a lesson using the ideas from the input they had received. The teachers then took part in microteaching where they practised facilitating a lesson using ideas they had been exposed to in the input and practical demonstration sessions. This was then followed by a reflection stage, where the teachers discussed and reflected on ways of using or adapting the ideas from the training into their own classrooms in their own contexts.

Teachers gave extremely positive feedback in the monitoring and evaluation activities conducted during the first two phases of the training. Teachers credited the acquisition of learner-centred methods for the classroom to the training and stated that these are essential to make the classroom more interactive for the students. Teachers also acknowledged that the training had a positive impact on their English ability and microteaching sessions allowed them to practise learner-centred methods and strategies in a no-risk environment and get valuable feedback from their peers and the Master Trainer.

When the teachers were asked about applying learning in the classroom and how they would achieve this, one of the teachers responded:

‘By adopting the strategies, methods and techniques such as reflecting on my own teaching skills and practices, shifting from a teacher-led approach to a learner centred one, reducing teacher talk time, conducting activities including warmers, using instruction checking questions, effective and relevant teaching aids and most of all giving due priority to L-S-R-W skills.’

During observation of training sessions, it seemed that a gradual shift from a traditional approach was taking place. This was evident in teachers’ feedback in focus group discussions as the majority stated that ‘learner-centred activities develop critical thinking skills, communication skills and social skills. They encourage alternative methods of assessments and help students transfer the skills to the real world and promote intrinsic motivation to learn.’

Teachers have now received a wide range of input related to using learner-centred methods in the classroom. We would like to invite teachers to continue building on skills and knowledge acquired in the training and embrace continuing professional development; Please visit for more details.

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A diverse classroom: the ideal laboratory for developing global citizens

Written by Manisha Dak – Academic Manager, Schools, English and Skills (North India)

Indian classrooms are among the most diverse in the world, with students from different cultural, linguistic and socioeconomic backgrounds. While many teachers find this diversity challenging to deal with, others consider this an opportunity to enable learners to work collaboratively and develop understanding of the world outside their own sphere of existence. The world is a global village, more so since the advent of internet, and the key purpose of education necessarily needs to shift to preparing global citizens who can live in harmony with others.

This was the theme of the 4th International ELT@I conference organised by the Jaipur ELT@I chapter with support from the British Council: English in Multicultural Classrooms – Perspectives, Prospects, Possibilities. The theme immediately struck a chord with me and I’m sure with many other conference attendees as it was an excellent opportunity to explore the unexplored and listen to various perspectives around teaching English in multicultural classrooms.

The conference included plenary talks by eminent speakers and workshops and presentations by enthusiastic professionals. From the idea of teachers taking initiatives to organise themselves and creating opportunities to learn from each other shared by retired Professor Shreesh Chaudhary, to the need for promoting resilience among teachers and learners using mindfulness activities proposed by Dr Bradley Horn, the plenary talks truly reflected the need of the hour. ‘Any group of people that is thrown together will face conflict and difficulties at some point, so what is important is that group members are able to look at that conflict and come back from it to be able to cope with future stressors more effectively, ’ emphasised Dr Horn in his talk.

Another useful way to make the most of potentially conflicting cultures present in the classroom, as suggested by Amy Lightfoot, is by finding ways to ‘celebrate this diversity.’ Why not encourage teachers and learners to draw on the linguistic, socio-economic and cultural diversity and treat it as a resource in the process of English language teaching and learning? This would enable teachers to help deal with growing concerns around erosion of cultures and identities while also being one step forward in the direction of preparing learners to be global citizens.

‘Changing words, changing minds’ from Dr Rajni Badlani’s talk was another highlight of the day. Dr Badlani advocated using and encouraging learners to use more positive words, for example, saying I need to understand more about your culture instead of I don’t understand your culture or I think differently instead of I don’t agree with you can change the way your brain works and the way people respond to one another, leading to more positive outcomes. This was a useful tip not just for the classroom but for day-to-day life as well. After all, despite the old adage ‘sticks and stones…,’ the words we use can have a profound effect on people’s beliefs and attitudes about themselves and others.

The three roles of teachers that emerged from various presentations and workshops in this context were that of an educator, facilitator and learner. The teacher can not only become a source of information about different cultures – both national and international – but also facilitate multicultural interactions and show genuine interest in learning about learners’ cultural backgrounds.

The workshops and presentations left attendees with a greater understanding of the issues relating to multicultural classrooms and a plethora of ideas they could take back to use in their contexts. Careful and deliberate planning and the integration of simple activities can turn the challenge of diversity into a huge advantage and aid the teaching and learning of English, along with other subjects. It’s important for teachers to establish early on that ‘different’ does not equal ‘bad’.

Some of the practical tips to exploit and promote cultural diversity in classrooms include:

  • personalising learning
  • giving equal importance to all learners, regardless of their background
  • adding storybooks from different cultures to the school/class library
  • avoiding stories that include only male or female characters, or stereotypes
  • organising multicultural interactions and sharing through group work and projects
  • being aware of possible cultural conflicts among learners and monitoring them closely to avoid clashes
  • choosing related topics for writing tasks and encouraging peer editing to spread cultural awareness
  • publishing learners’ work as a class magazine, celebrating the diversity in the school
  • conducting a culture quiz at the beginning of the year
  • allowing learners to discuss a speaking task in their first language prior to doing it in English, to build confidence and remove anxiety related to deciding what to talk about.

Overall, the two days spent at the conference led to a lot of sharing and reflection. If the attending teachers can put to use their understanding and ideas gained from the conference effectively in their classrooms, and share these ideas with their colleagues, it is truly possible that classrooms can become ideal laboratories to help learners become global citizens.

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Teachers, research and evidence: a happy marriage?

Written by Amy Lightfoot, Assistant Director – Academic, English for Education Systems, British Council India

Do teachers make enough use of evidence to inform their classroom practice? This was a key underlying theme of the International Association for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language (IATEFL) conference, held earlier this year in Glasgow. It’s a growing topic of conversation in education circles generally, including English language teaching. Some excellent initiatives are underway to try to promote more informed teaching in the classroom. For example, ELT Research Bites aims to present research findings related to ELT in an accessible and ‘easily digestible’ way. The relatively new Chartered College of Teaching in the UK has made access to the EBSCO research database a cornerstone of teacher and associate membership. The inaugural issue of their journal series focused on impact and evidence. 

But what do we mean when we talk about ‘research’ and ‘evidence’? For some, the word ‘research’ has negative connotations; it might suggest an outsider view on what is taking place on the ground, or it might be assumed to be impenetrable or inaccessible – aimed at other people, not at me. But research in the broadest sense can be defined simply as asking questions and looking for possible answers or explanations. In other words, research is the process through which we look for evidence which can support (or refute) decisions about what to do in the classroom.

Evidence can come from a wide range of sources. These include external sources considered to be particularly trustworthy, such as peer-reviewed academic journals, but arguably just as useful are reflections from fellow teachers on what seems to be working (or not) in their classrooms perhaps via blogs or shared more informally. With all of this externally-sourced evidence, John Hattie suggests that the individual teacher still needs to be the final judge of its relevance and applicability to their own context. What works (or doesn’t) for one individual or group of individuals is never fully guaranteed to work for another when we’re talking about the social sciences, regardless of how robust the data is.

With this in mind, there is a growing movement within education communities around the world to encourage teachers to undertake research for themselves, within their own classroom settings. Again, in its simplest form this involves the framing of questions (or a question) and seeking answers. This approach is being actively promoted through a network of professionals working in English language teaching who have established the International Festival of Teacher Research in ELT. This aims to bring together details of events happening around the world and highlight the benefits of and approaches to teachers undertaking research. So far, affiliated events have been held in Turkey, the UK, Argentina, Brazil, Australia, online through the TESOL Electronic Village and in India, with over 1,500 participating education professionals globally.

Most recently, the All India Network of English Teachers organised a two day conference in Nagpur, central India, to provide a platform for teachers across the country to share the results of their small scale, classroom-based research. A key feature of the event was a series of presentations by teachers and teacher educators who have been participating as mentors in British Council India’s Aptis Action Research Mentoring Scheme (AARMS). AARMS seeks to develop a network of 14 mentors, working directly with two of the leaders in the ELT teacher research field – Dr Richard Smith from the University of Warwick and Dr Amol Padwad of AINET. The mentors work with more than 80 teachers across India to develop their skills in conducting relevant, classroom-based research related to English language teaching. This Nagpur conference was closely followed by a four day workshop at Gauhati University, also supported by the British Council and the IATEFL Teacher Development SIG, with Dr Smith and Dr Padwad introducing the principles and practices of exploratory action research to 30 teachers and teacher educators.

The benefits of classroom research shared through these conference events and from those involved in the AARMS scheme are clear. External research is all very well, but teachers’ reflecting on their own practice, setting their own research questions and actively seeking the answers is the surest way to improve classroom teaching in a way that is contextualised to and appropriate for individual learners’ needs. Martyn Hammersley from The Open University has talked about ‘the privileging of research evidence over evidence from other sources, especially professional experience’: there is no doubt that the former is important, but teachers need to take ownership of the research process and actively find evidence that applies directly to their own classroom.

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English and Employability Skills for Higher Education Students in Andhra Pradesh

Andhra Pradesh Higher Education English Communication Skills Project lays emphasis on supporting teachers in their professional development and building institutional capacity of the state.
British Council directly trained 114 Master Trainers in teaching and training skills so that they are prepared to cascade ten-day teacher training programme to approximately 2500 teachers in Andhra Pradesh.
Master Trainer Training was conducted from 15 May to 20 May and 29 May to 3 June 2017 (two blocks, six days each) at Sri Padmavati Mahila Visvavidyalayam in Tirupathi and Acharya Nagarjuna University in Guntur.
Six British Council Training Consultants trained Master Trainers for 12 days. The materials for this training were specifically written to cater to the needs of Andhra Pradesh teachers who are at different levels of teaching and training experience. The materials on the course covered topics including the role of the Master Trainer in the project, developing skills in teaching speaking and writing, introduction to the learner course and its delivery in the student classroom, pedagogical awareness, reflective practice, development of training skills and approach to continuing professional development. The training involved a combination of input, practical demonstrations, microteaching, micro training, developmental feedback and reflection to help teachers to bridge the gap between the training room, classroom implementation and help personalise learning.

The feedback received on the Master Trainer Training Programme suggests that the course met expectation of 94 percent of the participants and 98 percent felt that they improved in their training skills. Furthermore, more than 94 percent of the participants stated that they acquired new skills and knowledge in the training programme.

Ajayendra Rudraraju, one of the Master Trainers, shares his experience of being a part of the Master Trainer Training programme and its impact on his professional practice, his students and peers.

Being a part of the Andhra Pradesh Higher Education English Skills in the capacity of Master Trainer gives me immense pride and satisfaction. Even though the Master Trainer Training Program was for only 12 days, I have learnt a number of things from the trainers from the British Council. I have met like-minded people, whose objectives are to evolve and improve as a teacher, during the training period.

Being able to interact and reflect on the teaching methods and approaches, which I employ in planning my lessons, with the English teaching community was one of the highlights for me.
The real highlight, for me, was learning great number things from the trainers from the British Council. I found the concept of ‘elicitation’ very useful, while delivering lessons in the classroom.
I have come to understand the importance of ‘reflection’ and ‘Continuous Professional Development’ in the evolution of a teacher. The Master Trainer workbook designed by the British Council gave a chance to work on my shortcomings and overcome them.

Before the training commenced, I was optimistic about learning something from the program. But I didn’t anticipate the profound and immediate impact it had on me during and after the training. I expected that the program would let me know of the new methods of teaching English.

It got more than I expected as new approaches, activities and techniques were looked at in an interesting way.

Once the training program was over, I promised myself that I would make use of the takeaway tips from the sessions and implement the activities and techniques in my classrooms. The results are being overwhelmingly positive. The students are more involved in the classes now. They enjoy taking part in the activities. Since I have come to know of the different learning styles of the students, I could cater to all of them now.

I have understood the ‘role of a facilitator’ very well and I could see that my students are very creative than I originally gave them credit for.

During the cascading phase, I made the teachers understand the importance of less TTT and more STT. They took it very well. My colleagues have started incorporating certain activities into their lesson plans. I have been constantly speaking to them about the importance of reflection and CPD.
Low key, I have learnt how to work within the given constraints. I started planning my lessons keeping the constraints in my college in mind.

I would like to take up courses, attend workshops and training programs of this ilk in order to keep evolving professionally.

The impact of the Master Trainer Training program and Teacher Training Program would be huge in the coming months and years. The teachers would facilitate the process of making the students come forward and talk and express their ideas.

This would enable the students to express themselves without inhibitions, enhance their communication and employability skills. The course designed by the British Council would be greatly beneficial to the teachers and students in this regard.

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Explorations: Teaching and Learning English in India

India has a long tradition of educational research dating back to the pre-independence period which has included the foundation and development of national and state agencies including the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) and State Councils of Educational Research and Training (SCERT). However, as David Graddol (2010: 98), for example, has pointed out, the results of this research have not always reached the wider world and India may have been under-represented in the international academic community. British Council India places considerable emphasis on encouraging and supporting educational research and a key strand of that work, for a number of years, was the English Language Teaching Partnerships (ELTReP) Award programme.

The ELTRePs programme ran from 2012 to 2016, with the aim of facilitating high quality, innovative research to benefit the learning and teaching of English in India and to improve the access of ELT policy makers and professionals from India, the United Kingdom and the global ELT community to that research. Researchers on this programme have been supported in undertaking explorations in a wide range of contexts. All writers are practitioners in the field of English language teaching and learning in India, whether teachers, lecturers, educational department personnel or in other roles that involve day-to-day contact with the teaching and learning of English.

Our new publication series Explorations: Teaching and Learning English in India brings together thirty three papers which are describe the research undertaken, and present findings and recommendations which we hope will be of benefit to a wider audience. The papers are presented in a series of eleven issues, each containing three papers and each addressing one of the professional practices detailed in the British Council framework for continuing professional development. Topics include a focus on understanding learners, managing resources and the use of information technology, assessing learners, taking responsibility for continuing professional development and using inclusive and multilingual approaches. Each paper reflects the creativity, detailed awareness of context and practical suggestions of the wide range of writers, from different backgrounds and working in different situations. They present results which in each case are innovative and thought-provoking. The papers deal in different ways with the teaching and learning of English in India today and offer suggestions on how to meet these challenges.

Twenty-two of the papers have been edited by Professor Brian Tomlinson, Honorary Visiting Professor, University of Liverpool, TESOL Professor, Anaheim University. A further eleven papers were edited by Andy Keedwell, Senior Academic Manager, British Council India. Both editors worked in collaboration with the writers themselves.

Issue 1 looks at the professional practice of understanding learners and in particular the needs of students, especially for future employability. Barasha Borah makes suggestions on how a more communicative, task-based approach can be used to develop students’ speaking skills for students in secondary schools. Seemita Mohanty looks at ways in which the motivation and self-confidence of young people can be increased. Sutapa Chakravarty investigates how a range of multiple intelligences can be addressed inside and outside the primary school.

We hope you enjoy Explorations: Teaching and Learning English in India Issue 1 and find it helpful for the context you work in.

Issue 2 will be released in August 2017.

Graddol, D. (2010) English next India: the future of English in India. London: British Council.

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English and Employability Skills for Higher Education Students in Andhra Pradesh

Up-skilling Higher Education (HE) students in English and employability skills in the state of Andhra Pradesh constitutes the core objective of Andhra Pradesh Higher Education English Communication Skills Project. The project aims to create an environment so that HE students have access to equitable education, increased economic and career prospects and more importantly takes forward Honourable Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s vision “to transform Andhra Pradesh state into a knowledge hub by providing quality education and giving opportunities for students to develop employability skills among the Universities and Colleges in the state.”

In India, English holds a unique role as both a link language and a skill valued by employers across sectors and helps gain better education and employment. This has been stated by research, policy documents and as well as industry bodies:

Growing need for 21st century skills in India-English is considered a 21st century skill, ‘mastery of which leads to better job prospects in the future’. (ASER Report 2010)

National Knowledge Commission in its 2007 recommendations stated ‘English language is a critical determinant of access to, and opportunities for a better life’.

British Council conducted a comprehensive needs analysis to understand the context teachers and students operate in and the training needs expressed by the state. The needs analysis involved 988 stakeholders (teachers, learners, staff council members across colleges and universities in the state of Andra Pradesh). Some of the primary data sources included learner and teacher focus groups, online surveys, discussion with staff council and Aptis assessment (computer-based English proficiency test). In addition, meetings with key stakeholders and policy makers, university curricula, text books, govt. education policy documents informed the key findings and the proposed solution.

The key objectives of the project include:

  1. Learners will improve their workplace English language, employability and soft skills and thereby have increased opportunities for further education or employment.
  2. English teachers will increase their English proficiency and be able to employ teaching methodologies which facilitate more communicative language learning outcomes.
  3. Develop a sustainable cadre of Master Trainers, who will have the English language skills, classroom pedagogy, training skills and mentoring competencies needed to support on-going training and professional development of English teachers in colleges on a sustainable basis.
  4. Employers will have access to a better skilled workforce of young talent

The project model is aimed at creating a cadre of Master Trainers who will train teachers and support them on an on-going basis in addition to building institutional capacity. The teachers will be equipped to deliver an English and employability 100-hour face to face English course with the focus on speaking and writing using learner-centred methods to students in their institutions. Furthermore, students will have access to a 50-hour online course that develops their English and employability skills in addition to grammar, vocabulary, reading and listening and in the process makes them more adept at using digitally-enabled training solutions.

So far 114 Master Trainers have successfully completed 12 days of training on English language teaching and training skills and are currently delivering training to teachers across Andhra Pradesh. Watch this space for more details on Master Trainer’s experience of teacher training and the learner programme.

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The 5 Cs of Email Writing


The 5 Cs of Email Writing 

Written by- Kamini Taneja, Academic Manager, British Council.


Please do the needful and revert back asap.’

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We see sentences like these in emails all the time. However, it’s not the most effective way to write since it doesn’t state what needs to be done and by when.

Emails need to be written as clearly as possible to avoid causing confusion, especially when transacting with partners/stakeholders overseas. A common complaint among Learning and Development managers is that their team members, while excellent in technical skills, can’t communicate successfully in writing. This leads to a lot of time being spent correcting and proofreading emails before they are sent out. This is especially true when emails are written to senior managers or important stakeholders. Furthermore, it has a negative impact on employee productivity and decreases efficiency.

Business communication is heavily reliant on emails – an indispensable tool in the business world today. So let’s look at the 5 Cs of email writing.

Complete: This is about stating your purpose up front and providing the right amount of information. It is a good idea to explicitly state what action will follow and when, and who will do it.

For example, let’s look at an email that starts with the sentence ‘I am writing to enquire about the new photocopier model manufactured at NEWX.’ Is the purpose/reason for writing clear or obvious? We usually state the reason for writing in the opening sentence of the email. It is also vital that all information is logically presented in the message.

Clear: This relates to using specific language. Which of these sentences specify exactly what action is required from the reader?

  1. We might extend the deadline to some extent on the condition that necessary measures are taken in a timely fashion.
  2. You now have until 31st March to remove all machinery from the site.

Additionally, using linking words, paragraphs to logically connect ideas is of utmost importance.

Correct: Let’s consider these sentences:  ‘I received many informations from you last week.’ or ‘I have received a letter from you on Monday.’

Can you spot any errors in these sentences?

You got that right – information is an uncountable noun so doesn’t take a ‘s’.

The second sentence can be written as ‘I received the letter on Monday.’ We use the past simple to state completed actions in the past (i.e. the action of receiving the letter is complete). The use of present perfect, in this case, brings together two contradictory elements: I have received the letter (recently received the letter) on Monday (with a past time phrase, time that is complete and over).

Grammatical accuracy plays a big part in how you come across to the reader and if the message was received as intended. Remember, words are powerful, but the right words are dynamite.

Concise: It is important to use short sentences (15-20 words).  Take a lo at this sentence:

The recommendation I have, and this is the area which I will now address in this section, is that relating to the issue of whether we need to provide refreshment for the employees of our company. It being my considered opinion that in fact, it would save time if the aforementioned meal could be provided by our company rather than having the employees go outside for any eventual refreshment.

The importance of keeping it simple and concise cannot be stressed enough when drafting crisp and easy to understand messages. Sentence length and “big” words can distort the message. Besides, who has the time to read long-winded emails! A better sentence is:

In order to save time, my recommendation is to provide refreshment to all staff in the office rather than having them go out.

Courteous: Our relationship with the reader influences our choice of language (formal/informal). When talking to your reader, you need to tailor your writing to fit their specific needs. One needs to consider what the tone of the message is and strike the right level of formality.

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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 on our courses.

To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact Alisha Debara on +91 9643200831 or email us on

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Make meetings matter – Expert tips to improve your meetings


Make meetings matter- Expert tips to improve your meetings

Written by- Shonali Khanna, Academic Manager, British Council

Think meetings are a waste of time? Think again. Our top tips for managing meetings effectively can help you make meetings matter!

What’s usually your first thought when you get a meeting request?

  1. Oh no, not another meeting
  2. Why am I even invited for this?
  3. What a total waste of time
  4. Fabulous, I love meetings!

If you chose 4, you’re one of those few individuals who is clearly doing things right. For the rest of us, however, meetings that run on endlessly or one where everyone is preoccupied with their gadgets can be a really frustrating part of regular work. Well, it doesn’t have to be this way and you don’t have to jump on the “boring meetings” bandwagon. Here are some ways to hold effective meetings that energise your team and leave them with clear objectives.The end game

The end game
Often, general weekly meetings with no clear outcomes end up becoming opportunities to catch up on lost sleep. So first things first, ask yourself what you are trying to achieve through this meeting. In other words, clearly define what will happen as a result of the time spent together as a group. Define this with a tangible action such as ‘by the end of this meeting we will have created a marketing action plan with timelines and leads for each action.’
Putting the D in digital
Once you clearly define your objectives, you might even find that a meeting isn’t the best medium to achieve a particular outcome. That’s ok. In fact, that’s good! Maybe a shared, collaborative document or an online meeting platform such as Zoom or Skype for Business can help your team review a proposal in real time. Perhaps project updates can be shared more effectively through a project management tool or communication platforms such as Basecamp, Asana or Slack.
An invite gets the clock ticking
The meeting actually starts when the invite is sent out, not when the physical meeting takes place. Meetings can be way more productive if you use appropriate ways to engage your invitees even before the meeting happens. This could be done by sharing a clear agenda so people know exactly what they can expect or giving a pre-meeting task that they have to complete before they come to the meeting.
Pre-wire meetings with important topics
For important or sensitive topics, where you want people to collaborate and don’t want any surprises, use the pre-meeting time to approach the key players attending the meeting. Get a preview of their thoughts on the meeting even before it happens. This will also help you anticipate concerns or questions or challenges so you can go into the meeting with 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.
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. To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact Alisha Debara on +91 9643200831 or email us on


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Planning your company’s L&D strategy for 2017?


Planning your company’s L&D strategy for 2017? 

Written by- Tapsi Chhabra, Academic Manager, British Council.

With rapid globalisation, English has emerged as the lingua franca for international business. Add to that the rise of the internet, and you have a situation where there is a high demand for proficiency in using English a.k.a the ‘universal language on the internet’.

Even within organisations, English takes centre stage.
Need to share information with your team? Write an update on Yammer or Basecamp.
Need to report to the CFO on numbers? Make a presentation.

Considering all of the above, here are the three main reasons why English language training should be your top L&D priority for the year.

To avoid communication breakdown:
Non-standard English aka ‘Indianisms’ in international contexts can cause confusion and pose barriers to building good business relationships. If not corrected, they may even lead to communication breakdown.

For instance, the oft-asked question What’s your good name? may confuse an expatriate colleague or a native English speaker. That’s because this is a direct translation of the Hindi expression, ‘Aap ka shubh naam kya hai?’ and the use of the adjective ‘good’ needlessly complicates a very simple question. Instead ‘What is your name?’ works for all situations.

To save time, save costs:
Did you know that we spend 28 per cent of our work week reading, writing or responding to emails, and a whopping 35 percent on meetings? That’s because most communication on emails and in meetings is to get things done. When employees improve their Business English, messages conveyed are clear and the need for clarification is drastically reduced. On the whole, employees are better able to grasp what is expected of them and perform tasks more effectively.

In addition, many companies report that highly paid senior managers often have to edit presentations and emails riddled with a non-standard use of English. If that’s the case in your organisation, it may be time to think about English language training.

Boost confidence and propel leadership:
You may have hired people with excellent technical skills, but are they able to lead on projects that require a high level of communicative competence? Equipping these techno-wizards with the ability to use language effectively empowers them to embrace leadership and take initiative beyond their basic job responsibilities. Don’t be surprised when a middle manager who recently attended a negotiation skills workshop cracks that deal with a coveted client all on his own – yes, the one that the management has been eyeing for months!

So tweak that L&D plan today – save costs and shape leaders by making language learning your top priority for 2017!
Have you struggled with communication breakdown at the workplace and a high cost of training? What do you look for in language training programs? Comment below and let us know.

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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 on our courses.

To set up a consultation with one of our experts, contact Alisha Debara on +91 9643200831 or email us on



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