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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
————————————————————————————————————————————–
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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“Teaching hardly matters, learning does”

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

I’ve shamelessly stolen the title of this blog from Jim Scrivener, whose presentation I attended at the recent IATEFL* conference in Brighton. I’m not sure I entirely agree – good teaching clearly supports effective learning – but the sentiment interests me, not least because it seems to sum up one of the emerging themes of the conference this year: English language teachers need to remember what is truly important about the work that we do and not let ourselves get distracted by all the various trappings of the multi-million dollar industry that has grown up around ELT**.

In my experience, most conferences can be boiled down into a few key messages for participants to take away. I don’t think these are always planned or intentional – although the existence of a conference theme can help give them some direction – but instead the current collective consciousness of the profession often seems to emerge during the course of the event. Of course, these are subjective to a large extent, but conversations with others suggest at least some commonality. These themes aren’t shaped only by fads or trends within the profession, but also by the way the world is changing around us. Technology is an obvious example – many recent conferences have reflected on (and usually championed) the integration of technology into our teaching. But this year at IATEFL it was interesting to note people questioning the its role. As its use gathers pace, do we need to consider going back to basics and ensure that we are controlling the use of digital tools, rather than the other way round?

Similarly, there were questions raised around the publishing industry and whether it has lost sight of its true purpose. According to the hugely popular plenary speaker Dorothy Zemach, many publishers are focusing too much on making money and retaining their market share rather than ensuring the quality of their products and capitalising on the creativity of experienced ELT writers. She called upon teachers to be more discerning in their choice of course book and to question the motives when offered multiple wraparound elements for free which might actually just distract from effective classroom teaching and learning. Dorothy also questioned whether a one size fits all global approach to product development was really helpful, beyond the reduction in costs this provides for publishers. This was highlighted again in Barry O’Sullivan’s entertaining plenary, where he called for assessments to be made more localised and personalised to individual needs and context.

Brita Fernandez Schmidt from Women for Women International had a strong message for delegates about the purpose and power of English and education more generally: women supported by this organisation in countries including Nigeria, Iraq and Afghanistan have escaped poverty, violence and damaging ingrained social norms as a result of educational interventions. English has considerable power to enable positive change by generating hope and opportunity for a better life and as English language teachers we have the capacity to be agents of that change. To paraphrase Spider-Man, we mustn’t forget the great responsibility that comes with that power.

To return to Jim Scrivener’s statement, it is true that learning matters most of all, not only for our students but also for teachers. Attending conferences supports teacher learning – and hopefully as a result of that, their learners – not just because of the content and ideas shared in each session but also the learning that takes place on the sidelines. Networking with colleagues and meeting new ones is key, as is critically reflecting on the messages and themes that bubble under the surface, taking shape only as the conference develops.

What conferences are you attending this year? Our new conference calendar might help you to decide. If you know of others we should include, please let us know.

A selection of the best sessions from IATEFL 2018 are available to view online here.

Representatives from British Council India’s delegation to IATEFL (L-R): Amy Lightfoot; Nagesh Lohare; Urvi Shah; Radhika Gholkar; Ashok Chavan; Nisar Shaikh.

Representatives from British Council India’s delegation to IATEFL (L-R): Amy Lightfoot; Nagesh Lohare; Urvi Shah; Radhika Gholkar; Ashok Chavan; Nisar Shaikh.

*IATEFL: International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language

**ELT: English language teaching

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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 https://www.britishcouncil.in/teach/continuing-professional-development for more details.

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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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British Council launches ELIPS 2 with Government of Maharashtra and Tata Trust

 

In March 2016 British Council signed a tri partite contract with the Government of Maharashtra and Tata Trust to launch an innovative teacher training project, English Language Initiative for Primary Schools – 2 (ELIPS 2) for primary school teachers in Maharashtra, India. ELIPS 2 represents a transition from more traditional model of teacher training to a more sustainable internally-supported approach which promotes holistic professional development through local communities of practice.

ELIPS2 will focus on primary teachers in government schools in Maharashtra and will take place over three years. In the first year, the project will cover nine districts in Maharashtra and in the second year the project will be scaled up to include the rest of the state. Following discussions with the government, it was agreed that the project would include initiatives for capacity building of the State Institute of English (SIE), establishment of Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) at cluster level for the nine districts and exploring the potential of online training programmes and social networking applications including WhatsApp to support teacher training and mentoring.

Building the capacity of the SIE through the development of a core team of English experts is central to this intervention and its sustainability. In addition, a teacher training and development model focussing on building the capacity of the state to provide appropriate Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities for teachers will be developed.  This will be achieved through a combination of face-to-face training, online learning through e-moderated and self-access courses, Teacher Activity Groups (TAGs) at the cluster level, the creation of online communities through popular social networking platforms and a teacher mentoring programme. All of these elements of the project aim to put the teacher at the centre of his/her own development.

Master Trainers, and later selected Teacher Facilitators, will be supported with British Council resources to facilitate TAGs. Existing Kendra Pramukhs (KPs) will be responsible for administrative aspects of these groups. The project will therefore build the state’s institutional capacity to support and implement large-scale, long-term in-service teacher training programmes which do not rely solely on cascade training as the medium of delivery.

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More language, more person

The taxi-less roads did not deter ELT whizzes and exponents in Kolkata, who went on a linguistic, educational and cultural overdrive with a lively debate on ‘English Medium Instruction: Boon or curse? that followed an engaging talk by Prof. Andy Curtis on the subject.

Andy Curtis is Professor in the School of Graduate Education at Anaheim University, California and the president of TESOL International. His talk, on 11 August in Kolkata and 13 August in Patna, took great care to present research related to the two opposing schools of thought, viz. the perceived position of English as the ‘language of inclusion’ vs. the possibility of it being the ‘language of intrusion’.

He elaborated on the historical and political significance of the EMI debate in India, with particular reference to India’s colonial past, while also highlighting how the various Indian Englishes have contributed to keeping the language a ‘living, breathing organism’. Prof. Curtis stressed on the need for a strong debate on EMI in India.

Image 1

The panel discussion and the audience response turned out to be a thought-provoking session, with a combination of long-standing views of the Indian education system and progressive comments on the pertinent impact of technology, globalisation and India’s presence as a multi-lingual and multi-cultural expanse with an internationally competitive edge.

Image 2

Prof. Anuradha Lohia, Vice-Chancellor, Presidency University, pointed out how several generations of Indian school-going children learnt English ‘by default’ without there being any choice in the matter. She acknowledged that more and more learners of this generation had the option of continuing education in their chosen language, but higher education demands a knowledge of English. She attributed this scenario to the fact that English is the language of research and development, therefore a ‘language of necessity’ for young people who will soon become global citizens. She also put forth an interesting question of whether lack of English could become an impediment for those aspiring for a career in technical fields, or if they could still make it big in the international arena.

The Director of Modern High School for Girls in Kolkata, Ms. Devi Kar, responded to Prof. Curtis and Ms Lohia by raising the question of whether English might also be seen as the ‘language of exclusion’, especially in higher education. From her own experience of teaching and learning, Ms Kar pointed out how pronunciation and accent formed the ‘great divide’ for Indian English speakers, by bringing up the long-ensuing war between substance and language style. The crux of Ms Kar’s response was based on bilingual language teaching and how it was a more organic way of teaching languages in India, especially due to the need for constant code-switching and code-mixing in the diverse linguistic panorama.

Academic Manager of British Council Teaching Centre in Kolkata, Mr Rajeev Bakhshi, took on the debate of the purpose and need for English learning in India, by emphasising that students in the English classroom looked upon English as a means of seeking better jobs or securing a better future for themselves, not only in terms of monetary benefit, but also for more promising careers and a global identity.

The audience posed questions on a number of issues ranging from how English is taught in schools, to which Prof Curtis responded by saying that the current style of grammar-focussed teaching can limit linguistic creativity to a great extent. To another question on how English language is linked to ‘who we are’, Prof Curtis advocated the ideology of plurality while pointing out the fossilisation of language and clear markers of an individual’s identity, influence how we speak.

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The stimulating discussion ended with a consensus that despite the ambivalence towards EMI globally, multilingualism is the way forward. Prof Curtis encapsulated this belief with the comment ‘diversity is strength’ and Sujata Sen rounded off session by saying English language learning is indeed a boon in India and the debate on EMI should continue, in interest of betterment of education in India.

The debate continued in Patna  where a turnout of 86 people on a day it rained very heavily included a mix of senior education policy makers from SCERT (director and his deputy, VC of Patna University), teacher educators from our own BLISS project, Pratham Bihar unit (including their state head), several school principals from our schools network.

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A lively interaction followed the lecture, with questions of linguistic imperialism and dangers of English cropping up (and tackled very well by Andy). The discussion was moderated by Debanjan Chakrabarti.

Both events were covered very well in the mainstream media (the Telegraph, Hindu, Hindustan Times, several agencies).

This was the first in a series of programmes that strategically brings together our work in research and publications, particularly on the (tricky) issue of EMI and related pedagogic approaches, aligned to our state partnership programmes and looking at the medium term milestone of the Language and Development Conference late in 2015.

Post by: Samathmika Balaji

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It starts today

Hofesh Shechter Company, one of the UK’s most exciting dance groups, makes its debut this week in the Pearl City, Hyderabad.

With excitement building inside we waited at the Kamaraj International Airport, Chennai, to welcome the musicians who were on a nine-hour flight from London. The group arrived and appeared as excited as us and raring to go.

Norman, the leader of the group, was a storehouse of energy apparent in the way he moved around. Dominic Goundar alias Raju was excited to be touching home base. Probing him about the roots of his name, we were absorbed by the story about his forefathers being from the South of India, then they moving to Fiji, Australia and later settling in the UK.

Joseph Ashwin, the last name, you ask curiously. Well, that’s just an ironic coincidence he says, and I get that a lot. Jo then goes on to elaborate the incident at an Indian store when the shopkeeper assesses him against the identity card… nothing like an ‘Ashwin’ he says and no connection to India.

At the breakfast table, the troupe eagerly experiment with dosas!

They are excited about their debut in India and are rehearsing meticulously and we are more than excited to watch them at Shilpakala Vedika on Friday!

The tour starts today and it is gaining momentum with every passing hour…. Hyderabad, be ready to be awestruck and held spellbound.

Blog by Rajeswari Pradeep Kumar

British Council launches Impulse – Contemporary dance from the UK, Season 2 with a performance of Political Mother by Hofesh Shechter Company. For more details visit www.britishcouncil.in/impulse2. 

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World Voice Project Workshop for State-level Master Trainers

World Voice

The World Voice Project 2014 kicked off in Delhi with training for state level trainers from five states of India. The workshop was hosted with our partners at the NCERT and was attended by Gill Caldicott (acting Director), Sujata Sen (Director, East India), Vivek Mansukhani (Director Arts) from the British Council, Prof Parvin Sinclair (Director), and Dr Pawan Sudhir (Professor and Head, Department of Education in Arts and Aesthetics (DEAA) and Dr Sharbari Banerjee (Assistant Professor, Musicologist) from the NCERT.

The three-day World Voice Project workshop  (25 – 27 August 2014, DEAA Conference hall, NCERT New Delhi) for Master Trainers brought together 16 participants from each of the WVP partner states: Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Meghalaya, Sikkim and New Delhi. Aiming at capacity building, training and skills advancement on Art Integrated Learning (AIL) with music and singing through British Council India’s World Voice Project (WVP), it offered an ideal platform for interaction, an exchange of best-practices, experiences, song repertoires, opportunities and challenges involved in AIL through music.

The interactive training was conducted by the resource person and trainer from United Kingdom, Dr Thomas Ian Young. He shared a range of new warm ups, singing games, use of puppets and actions with songs and encouraged sharing of personal song repertoires from the participants. The participants learnt 12 new songs during the workshop, including songs from the WVP songbooks alongside others from across the world such as, Canoe song (North America), Si-Si (Congo), Scotland and so on. They enjoyed singing and learning the songs, while they also shared their WVP experiences in their respective states through presentations, video and audio clips, as well as, photographs documenting their work. They highlighted how teaching through WVP songs had made classroom learning more enjoyable and interesting!

The participants attending the current workshop had been trained earlier by Master Trainers from New Delhi/ India over the past one year (October 2013 – March 2014) in their respective states. The current training was envisaged to help participants enhance their skills to be able to conduct similar trainings in their educational institutions and states; thus, taking on the role of master trainers in their respective regions.

Further, in an effort to promote AIL through theatre, the British Council India organised short sessions on ‘Theatre in Education’ with the support of 4 short listed participants trained previously during the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) workshop (held in January 2014) alongside this workshop. The hour-long theatre presentations with a focus on Shakespearean texts were scheduled before and after completion of Dr Young’s sessions during the ongoing workshop. The participants enjoyed the fusion of music and theatre sessions for classroom learning. The theatre component will be included in the next phase of the AIL activities in the various WVP partner states.

Participant’s responses

“ I have learnt four WVP songs and WVP introduced me to a new teaching pedagogy. It has helped me establish a good rapport with my students and made learning very enjoyable for everyone! ” – Mr Dary Marbaniang, Meghalaya

“ I have been using the WVP songs and warm ups.. I would like to share that Bebe-Yo is very popular with all the students! “ – Mr Subhash Shanker Suna, Sikkim

“ There are less teachers and massive pressure to ensure the syllabus and curriculum is covered. In the process, we tend to forget that learning must be joyful! After the WVP workshop, I am singing with a better purpose and am able to establish better links with the curriculum. The students in my state find English very difficult. However, I was delighted when they managed to learn and sing an English song, ‘ScarbouroughFair’ ” – Ms Geeta Bhatt, Himachal Pradesh

“I head a pre-school and teach students from the age group 1.5 to 5.5 years. After one week of teaching through WVP pedagogy, they were happier and learnt far better. Although, I was faced with initial resistance from the parents but once they observed the changes that music had brought about, they became more open and encouraging!.- Ms Zainab Ashraf, Jammu and Kashmir

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