Tag Archives: English language

Top Tips for improving your child’s body language


Actions speak louder than words.  We as parents need to help our children realize that there is more to communication than just words. Understanding the importance of eye contact, gestures, facial expressions and posture can help children make a good impression and adapt more easily to the complexities of social life. A starting point is to start raising awareness of this unspoken and integral aspect of communication that is often overlooked.

Body language is a means of non-verbal communication that is done subconsciously. Here are some aspects of body language that you can help your child develop.

1. Observe body posture: demonstrate to your child how different movements of the body can convey various feelings and emotions. Crossed arms while talking to someone, constantly fidgeting and hands on the hips; carries a lot of meaning even without using a single word. Parents can develop this sensitivity by using interactions between people in the real world or videos as examples. When dining out, draw your child’s attention to how different people are sitting and ask them to choose their favourite posture. Ask leading questions to find out why and then talk about what it means – the family is having fun, looks like that couple has had a fight. This will make children more aware of how they sit and how they are perceived by others. An upright posture makes you look more sophisticated and elegant.

2. Be aware of facial expressions: Point out ways in which they can notice these nuances to pick up on the underlying emotions and intentions of people. A fun game to play with your family is charades – act out different emotions and take turns to guess. You can get some more wonderful tips from this website.

3. Use gestures to add meaning: Gestures play a crucial role in presentations. Rather than standing with your hands behind the back, encourage your child to use hand movements to add meaning to what they say. TED talks by kids are a great way to show an example of how gestures can be better used.

4. Maintain eye contact: many of us have been taught that looking into the eyes of grown-ups can be a sign of disrespect. On the contrary, not maintaining eye contact can mean that you are hiding something, not interested or lying. Some ways to teach your child how to better their eye contact skills is by parents modelling this behaviour. Look at your child when you speak to them rather than into a laptop or phone. Make them feel that you are really listening and this conversation is important to you. Expect the same from your child when the situation demands it.

5. Encourage positive body language: Positively reinforce by saying “I really like it when you look at me when I speak to you” or “I really liked how you looked at the server at the restaurant and said thank you, it was really polite.” You can use this video to get some ideas of fun games to improve eye contact.

6. Build presentation skills: Eye contact is an important skill to develop even for public speaking. At home, when practising speaking in front of an audience, remind your child to look at them while presenting. With your eyes, make a sweeping motion from left to right and front to back; to make sure that each member feels included. This creates a bond between the speaker and the listener.

These skills will definitely come in handy when your child enters the corporate world and has to socialize with others while working in teams.

                                                                              -Ridhima Somaiya, Teacher British Council

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Say goodbye to spelling worries! Find out how.


Spellings are rather troublesome for many of us to work with, more so for our children! This is mainly because we often say a word quite differently than we write it. So, here are a few tips that can help you equip your child to make spellings easier.

Tip 1: Write, re-write and remember

This is a lovely technique that can be excellent practice for your child because it is visual and relies on recalling.

  • You will need to make a chart with 3 columns labelled ‘Write, Re-write and Remember’.
  • Then fold over the “remember” part so that only the first two columns are visible
  • Say the word that you want to learn aloud.
  • Write it in the first column, saying the letters as you trace. Say the word again. You can even spell it aloud.
  • Go to the second column, say the word, and re-write the word in the same way.
  • While the rhythm and the sound and the feeling are fresh in your mind, flip the paper over and say the word and spell it out.
  • If it’s a hard word, put it on the list (the Write column) more than once. If you feel confident and would like to challenge yourself or your child, write and re-write TWO words, and try to remember them both before you flip the page over. However, if you can’t remember it, do it one at a time because you want to practice the words RIGHT, not make guesses!
  • After you’ve done all the words this way a few times, start doing them two or three at a time, and when you feel like you know them, do the list again!

Tip 2: Using memory tricks and Mnemonics

Memory tricks or mnemonics are really useful to remember tricky spellings. For eg. the words stationary can end with an -ary and -ery. So how to you ensure you are spelling it correctly?

One easy way to remember is to come up with memory tricks. For instance, the word stationery refers to pens, pencils, paper etc. As there is an ‘e’ in ‘pen’ and it is an item of stationery, we can try to remember that stationery has an ‘e’ just like the word ‘pen’ has an ‘e’. Whereas the other ‘stationary’ does not have an ‘e’ and refers to ‘not moving’.

Similarly, for the word principal, should we use -al or -le at the end? So here is a memory tip, remember you and your pal (or friend) have the same school Principal. You can also think of words within words for such memory tricks like believe has a lie in it, so you must never believe a lie – this way you can remember that believe has an -ie not -ei.

It is fun to create such memory tricks. And you can ask your children to share their tricks with friends, family and even teachers so that they remember it better. And of course, there are no rules for these, so you can make any that makes sense to you.

Tip 3: Use a recorder to test and practice the meanings of words and their spelling!

The next tip is children could use a tape recorder or a  phone recorder to test themselves and to practice using words.

Here’s how they can do it. Read the words — be sure you’re pronouncing them right — into the recorder. Record it like it’s a spelling test: word, example sentence, word, spelling. For example, you’d say


Put the papers in separate piles.


Spelled s – e – p – a – r - a - t – e.”

Play it back — and try to say the spelling before the tape plays it. This tip will help children practice without anyone’s help. This is also something that can be done once and then the tape can be re-use over and over.

Tip 4: Highlight the hard parts.

Some words, like separate, are only hard in some parts. So highlighting the hard part is a good technique for learning rules and patterns.

Ask your child to get different colour pens or pencils or markers, and get small cards. Write the words vividly, boldly on the cards — and make the ‘hard part’ a different colour than the rest. Make a mental picture of that card, read the word aloud and spell it aloud, and change the way they say the “hard part,” maybe saying it louder, maybe putting on a different accent. So, they’d write:

sepArate    believe


When they write the whole word, they should think about the hard part, what it looks like or sounds like. So, while they’re writing “separate,” they might be visualizing that bold, red A.

These cards are also easy to carry and can be used almost anywhere. Turn it into a family game for even more fun.

Tip 5: Learning through reverse chaining letters.

Learning spelling through reverse chaining letters is another effective trick. Here’s how the children should do it:

  • Say the word. Then write it, saying each letter (be enthusiastic and expressive)
    • W – O – R – D
  • Skip a line and say it and write it again — minus the last letter. Say the last letter, but don’t write it.
    • W – O – R – ____
  • Skip a line and say it and write it again — minus the last two letters. Say them, but don’t write them.
    • W – O – ___ ____
  • Do that until you’re only writing one letter.
  • Go back to the top. Read the word, then spell it out loud.
  • Fold the page over so you can’t see the whole word. Say the word, spell it, and add that last letter.
  • Fold the page back again. Say the word, spell it, and add the last two letters.
  • Keep going until you spell the whole word.
  • GO BACK AND CHECK — make sure you didn’t leave out a letter.

Adding variety in the way children learn spellings is a key factor in keeping them at it. A single strategy becomes boring too soon and children tend to lose interest. So, get them to try different techniques. However, don’t introduce all of them at once, as this can be overwhelming and not quite effective.


All of these are tried and tested methods so do try out these tips for yourself and let us know which one worked for your child in the comments.

Keep watching this space for more such tips and suggestions on improving your child’s English language and skills.

-Melisha Robinson and Munira Hussain, Teachers British Council


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Multiple perspectives on multilingualism

Seventeen of the scheduled languages are featured on Indian rupee banknotes

India boasts one of the largest number of languages for any country on earth, with 22 languages awarded official status and referred to as ‘scheduled languages’. English is termed an ‘associate official language’. Depending on how they are counted (and who is doing the counting) there are as many as 6600 other languages spoken and used across the country – some by very small percentages of the population which can still equate to large numbers in a country of 1.2 billion people.

The British Council is well-known for its work relating to the English language, including working with teachers to improve the way that it is taught within education systems. Our position is to support the development of English as a skill alongside the development of learners’ mother tongues and other national languages. To this end, we actively support research into multilingualism and English as a medium of instruction in order to facilitate a shared understanding of what works in practice and where there are significant challenges. This has been realised in several ways in India, including by hosting a roundtable event on multilingualism in 2014, hosting the Language and Development Conference in Delhi in 2015 on the theme of multilingualism and development and most recently through a partnership on a research project initiated by the University of Cambridge and the University of Reading in the UK.

This project, Multilingualism and multiliteracy: raising learning outcomes in challenging contexts in primary schools across India was recently launched through a consultation event at British Council Delhi. Alongside the team from the two UK universities, led by Professor Ianthi Tsimpli and including Professor Jeanine Treffers-Daller and Professor Theodoros Marinis, co-investigators from key institutions in India, Dr Survana Alladi from Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences and Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay from the English and Foreign Languages University Hyderabad, and representatives of other partner organisations also attended. This breadth of representation from different sectors, cultures and organisations led to a rich discussion on the issues surrounding multilingualism in India and the impact that this can have on learning.

These questions will continue to be explored through the research study, focusing on young learners in Bihar, Hyderabad and Delhi. In particular, the project seeks to contribute to the body of knowledge around how different mediums of instruction can impact on literacy, numeracy and higher level cognitive skills. The study will also examine the extent to which geographic and socioeconomic factors affect development in these areas. Furthermore, the research project includes a strong focus on capacity building for all involved – including a network of research assistants and PhD students – and seeks to drive impact through a range of dissemination events and channels as the research gets underway. The project will run from 2016–2020.

Watch this space for further updates.

Back row (from left to right): Rajarshi Singh, Pratham; Prof Ganesh Devy (People’s Linguistic Survey of India); Prof Minati Panda (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay (EFL-U); Prof Ianthi Tsimpli (Univ of Cambridge); Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller.  Front row (from left to right): Prof Theo Marinis; Prof Ajit Mohanty (retired from JNU); Prof Rama Mathew (Delhi University)

Back row (from left to right): Rajarshi Singh, Pratham; Prof Ganesh Devy (People’s Linguistic Survey of India); Prof Minati Panda (Jawaharlal Nehru University); Dr Lina Mukhopadhyay (EFL-U); Prof Ianthi Tsimpli (Univ of Cambridge); Prof Jeanine Treffers-Daller.
Front row (from left to right): Prof Theo Marinis; Prof Ajit Mohanty (retired from JNU); Prof Rama Mathew (Delhi University)
Also present but not pictured: Dr Vasanta Duggirala (retired from Osmania University, Hyderabad); Dr Dhir Jhingran (Language and Learning Foundation); Dr Suvarna Alladi (Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences), Debanjan Chakrabarti and Amy Lightfoot (British Council India).

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Chetan Bhagat live and unplugged!

Dear readers, I promise you don’t want to miss out on this!

We’ve uploaded Part 1 of Chetan Bhagat’s appearance at the Third Policy Dialogue. You can see the video at http://www.youtube.com/user/Britishcouncilindia#p/c/182A295AA1364815/24/dS9kh3qeWYg

We’ll be uploading the final parts in the next few days, so stay tuned. And tell us what you think of Chetan’s address.

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