Tag Archives: English for Progress Policy Dialogue

Whose responsibility is it to produce ‘ready to eat’ graduates?

David Graddol interviewed key figures in the corporate sector around the challenges they find in recruiting employees.  The corporate sector wants candidates who are immediately employable as there is the danger that they may invest in people who then move on to join other companies.  The skills they are looking for are more than just communication skills, although these are of course of extreme importance, but also inlcude other skills such as teamwork.  It was argued that school often kills initiative and confidence, and certainly does not produce the kind of candidate that the corporate sector wants.

What do you think?  Whose responsibility is it to produce the kind of candidates who are ready to enter the corporate sector?  Is it the resonsibility of the education system or the responsibility of the corporate sector?

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The Role of English in India

In this stimulating and thought-provoking debate, it was generally agreed by the panel that the role of English in the future of India’s social and economic development is both necessary and desirable.

There is a need for an ongoing shift of English as an elitist language, towards a more universal access for all. In this way, the people themselves can choose to pursue English.

However, there were certain caveats to this:  

one danger of pushing through the English language agenda is that of lack of infrastructure in place. A lack of teachers coupled with unregulated quality of teaching practice will not bring about the desired results of incresed numbers of proficent speakers of English.

Furthermore, if increased amounts of time are given to English studies in class, and these classes are ‘ineffective’, then the learner will not only suffer from a lack of English, but this will be at the expense of other important subjects.

Very salient points. So what are the solutions?

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Should we label languages 1st, 2nd and 3rd?

Som Mittal, president of NASSCOM,  speaks at the Third Polcy Dialogue as part of the first panel discussion – English Next India: Policy implications for English teaching and learning.

Som believes using the labels 1st, 2nd and 3rd language is wrong and wonders why we can’t just use the term ’languages ‘ like we  do with other subjects, such as sciences. Should equal importance be given to L1, L2 and L3? What do you think?

The panel discussion is getting lively. Watch it live or recorded online!

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Most popular food item

H ello from a cool and sunny New Delhi.

I’ve just been sampling the buffet breakfast here at the conference venue, the Hyatt hotel, with my colleagues. The verdict on the hotel food so far has been very positive. There’s lots of variety and it all seems very fresh.

The smoked salmon was easily the most popular item on my table, though being vegetarian,  I did not partake. Everyone also enjoyed the salad and bakery selections. Ice cream was also on offer for breakfast, including a ‘roasted muesli flavour’.

Please send in your comments on the hotel food and what is tickling your taste buds.

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Who supports the teachers?

Among the many fascinating statistic’s in David Graddol’s address last night,one comment resonated with me, and with many others if my conversations at the reception that followed were typical.  Any programme is only as good as the teachers on the ground.   Teachers sometimes attend training at the start of a new initiative but are then left alone to get on with it.

In Sri Lanka, there is a network of 30 Regional English Support Centres (RESCs) with well trained and committed staff who act as mentors to teachers at the local level.  The more I interact with the RESC staff the more impressed Iam. 

Is there such a netwrork in other places that provides continuing in-service support to teachers and is it well supporgted from the centre?

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Keep tuned in!

Dear readers,

First, thanks to all of you for your comments on our blog posts so far. It’s been a fantastic discussion! The conference will officially start this evening, with the introduction to David Graddol’s English Next India. You’ll be able to watch a recording of the event the next morning. Over the next two days every plenary session will be streamed live (and recorded). To access the session pages go to the Third Policy Dialogue programme page at www.britishcouncil.org/india-projects-english-tpdschedule.htm. You can then click through to each session page where you’ll see:

the real time of the session
the abstract and speaker’s bio and their PowerPoint presentation
a link to the film page

On the film page you can choose to watch the live stream (either low or high speed, depending on your internet connection) or the recording. We are aiming to have all recordings uploaded during the actual conference. Also on the film page we’ve put a comments box – just enter your name and email address (so that we can verify you are a real person!) and write what you think of the session. All the comments will be archived.

Finally, keep reading this blog. We have a team of dedicated bloggers – myself, Philip, Seamus, Clare, Nick and Cath – who will be posting their impressions of the sessions. We’ll also be live blogging the content of sessions on our Twitter account at http://twitter.com/efponline, so you don’t have to miss a thing! If you have a specific question for any of the speakers, post it to the blog and we’ll try to get it answered.

I hope you enjoy the conference and that the online coverage will help you to become a real participant.

Best wishes,

Stephen

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What is to be done?

The fact that 85-90% of college leavers in India are not considered immediately suitable for employment in the ITES sector presents a huge challenge for the industry. So what is the solution? One of the action points from the 2008 NASSCOM-Everest BPO report is to:

“Increase employability and access untapped talent pools by creating greater linkages between the current education system and the needs of the BPO industry, and facilitating the development of BPO-specific education models.”

The report goes on to make a number of recommendations in this area:

“Initiatives related to education are required to expand the employable talent pool in India. The industry needs to work more aggressively with the Government to create greater linkage between the current education system and requirements of the BPO industry. This can be done by 1) policy changes like liberalization of higher education, 2) increased collaboration between industry and academic institutions to take up initiatives such as introduction of BPO-specific curriculum and improving students’ access to funds for higher studies, 3) introducing coursework changes and teacher training at the school level in accordance with future requirements of the BPO industry. There is also a significant opportunity for private players to step in and create a BPO education industry. Such a move should be based on creating longer-term training programs to improve communication and other skills required by the BPO industry. Specific training programs need to be developed to create several intermediate levels of skills and specialisation (between generalists and highly trained specialists), and to bring alternate talent pools (e.g. high school graduates, educated housewives) into the BPO workforce.”

I think educationalists would probably disagree that the purpose of education is to provide employees for the BPO sector, although they would probably agree that teacher training and curriculum development are needed.

What are your views?

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CLIL: the way forward or just a fad?

There has been an awful lot of talk about c ontent and language integrated learning (CLIL) over the last few years and a number of well publicised initiatives around the world.  More recently there has been a reversal in policy in Malaysia on CLIL.  Is this the beginning of the end or just teething problems?

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At what age should English be taught?

I’m going to be moderating a session titled ‘Education for all’ on the second day of the conference. This parallel session aims to throw light on the experiences and challenges faced by state governments when trying to implement English across the primary level. One question that always crops up when we talk about primary English education is; at what age should English be taught? As well as focussing on the child, this question often raises important issues surrounding a primary teacher’s English language proficiency, their educational background and their experience and qualifications. What are your views on implementing English at the primary level?

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