Tag Archives: English communication skills

Do you want your child to write stories? Find out how easy it is here.

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We all enjoy stories, whether it’s from a book or through real-life experiences that we narrate later to people. Stories aren’t just for entertainment or teaching morals but have a deeper function especially for children. It helps them develop their language in terms of their sentence structure, vocabulary used and introduces them to a whole world of new ideas.

Stories help children learn simple ideas like the concept of shapes, colours, nature, numbers etc as well as complex ideas like the importance of sharing, turn-taking, compassion for others and so on. It helps them enhance their real-world knowledge and critical thinking skills. Here are some quick tips on how you can get your child started on this fun journey.

Step 1Brainstorm Ideas for your story.

All good things start with good ideas. So first you need to come up with an idea for your story. Reading a book together is a good place to start here. Your child can make predictions about the endings of stories and this can be a great place to launch off into a new story.

You could also write stories based on real life experiences – for example, your child’s first day to school, an adventure to the beach or park, and read that to them.

Step 2The important W’s – Who, what, where, why

Brainstorm with your child and elicit details from them about the character and setting. Think about things like – will the character be an animal, a child or an adult? Will it be set in the wild, on the beach, in a park, in a town or maybe a magical forest? What’s important here is to let your child’s imagination run wild.

Step 3Have a strong story beginning

First impressions count, even when it comes to stories, so set the opening scene and expand on their character and the original idea. Possible things to think about could be what’s special about the character? Maybe it’s a boy who pretends to fight crime and save the world or a cat that fears mice?

Step 4Conflict is key

This is important to any story because, what’s a story without some drama? It keeps it from being dull and drab and creates the narrative thread for it. Revisit some conflicts in already existing stories and help your child understand it. You can then work with your child and come up with a conflict in their story.

Step 5A twist in the tale or let it fizzle out

The climax or turning point is another important point in the story. Create a bizarre twist to the story that nobody would see coming or end it with something predictable. The choice is yours. Let your child’s imagination loose here. There isn’t a right or wrong way of doing this.

Step 6The final resolution

A good story doesn’t finish without a final resolution. Think about how the conflict in their story turns out. You can make it more interesting by linking the conflict with the turning point to create a sensible resolution.

Finally, appreciation at every stage is important to feel motivated and supported throughout. Remember to not curb your child’s enthusiasm or imagination throughout the process as the more enthusiastic or imaginative they are, the more they will gravitate towards writing and reading. Time to get cracking with those stories!

-Ian Vaz, Teacher British Council

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How to improve your pronunciation?

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One of the most important aspects of language learning is pronunciation. Learning to pronounce words in English is made more challenging by the fact that words are often spelt one way and pronounced another. For instance, how would you pronounce these words—enough, thorough, bought, though, cough?

To be a successful English speaker, one should also focus on other important features of pronunciation, such as intonation, stress, rhythm, and connected speech. Here are some tips to perfect your pronunciation.

1. Look up in a dictionary: Online dictionaries make your life easy by giving you an audio clip of the pronunciation. Forvo is a wonderful website that let’s you find the pronunciation of words in over 400 languages! While listening to the pronunciation, make a note of where the stress is and practice saying the word as often as you can.

 2. Imitation: Listening to English in real-life contexts and in a variety of accents are two wonderful ways in which you can master pronunciation. Choose interesting words, phrases, or short bits of the video you are watching. Imitate the speaker in the video by repeating the words or sentences exactly the way they are spoken. Pay attention to the stress and the tone of these phrases. Check out these podcasts and videos to practice pronunciation:

 3. Record yourself: Recording yourself speaking in English can help you notice your errors and work on self-correction. You could use it while you are learning new words or to practise longer conversations. Most phones these days have a voice recorder in them. You could also use https://vocaroo.com/ to record yourself as often as you like.

4. Befriend a mirror: The position of your tongue and the way you move your mouth affect the sound you make. For example, the difference in the pronunciation of the words ‘late’ and ‘rate’ comes from the position of your tongue. Watch pronunciation videos that explain these differences. BBC has a great playlist of videos showing different sounds in English and their pronunciation. Watch them here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/learningenglish/english/features/pronunciation

You could also use our app ‘Sounds Right’ to practise these sounds: https://www.britishcouncil.org/english/business/apps/sounds-right

5. Tongue twisters: If everything else we said here feels like too much work, try tongue twisters! They are great for pronunciation training and most of all, they are fun to do! Try these tongue twisters:

Lastly, be kind to yourself. It is okay to make mistakes. You will get better with practice!

-Reshmi V M, English Teacher 

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The Anatomy of a Training Session

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

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

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

Training

Planning

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

Delivery

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

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

Takeaway

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

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

Learn more about our online business communication learning and development solutions by clicking here: https://www.britishcouncil.in/english/corporates

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

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

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

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

Business communication skills

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more about our online business communication learning and development solutions by clicking here: https://www.britishcouncil.in/english/corporates

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

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Helping learners at NIT Patna get dream jobs

NIT Patna students engrossed in a group discussion

NIT Patna students engrossed in a group discussion

British Council successfully completed a Professional English Course for 50 learners at NIT Patna. This is a renewed partnership between British Council and NIT Patna after a successful training intervention in 2014. This time around we aim to train 500 learners (20 batches) at NIT Patna premises over four months (June- September 2016).

The 24-hour course comprises four main sections – interview skills, group discussions, CV writing and presentation skills taught at different levels – all aimed at helping learners bag job placements in their dream companies.

Students were seen participating actively in engaging, activity based lessons with several practice and feedback sessions built in for continuous improvement. Practicing their employability skills using simulations of real life scenarios has helped boost confidence in public speaking, improve fluency and prepare to sell themselves in interviews.

Student feedback has been very positive. Learners  particularly  appreciate the teaching methodology used and have quoted it as being ’perfect’ and ‘excellent’ in mid-course focus group discussions. On feedback forms 100% of learners were able to mention concrete takeaways from the course that will significantly improve chances of being placed with companies of their choice. They also appreciate the efforts of college authorities to liaise with British Council for English language training and requested us to ‘organise more (training) events like this’.

We hope to continue this training program successfully for rest of the 450 learners. As a team, we are very happy to partner with NIT Patna and help bright young minds to bridge the gap between capability and employability.

For more information on English communication skills courses please visit here.

If you represent an organisation and want to enquire about English communication skills courses, please fill the form here and we will get in touch with you.

Post by Tapsi Chhabra

 
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