Tag Archives: English

Building ELT research capacity in India

Richard Smith, University of Warwick

In late July I completed a week-long consultations tour at the invitation of the British Council India, visiting two locations – the English and Foreign Languages University (EFL-U), Hyderabad, and the Central Institute of Education, Delhi University.

The aim of my visit was to initiate a three year (2013-16) project plan for an ELT Research Survey of India, adapted from the UK ELT Research Directory (a British Council funded initiative for which I have been the primary consultant). The proposed Survey will, for the first time, bring information about ELT research in India onto a single, fully-searchable online platform. While The British Council is the prime mover behind this project, work is in progress regarding a multilateral partnership between Warwick University, EFL-U and Delhi University in the first phase, and growing in subsequent phases with British Council contribution and management tapering off in a planned manner.

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

Consultations with EFLU and other South India-based ELT academics

Consultations in Delhi

Consultations in Delhi

This visit follows on from a preliminary desirability and feasibility study that I undertook in February 2012. During the trip just completed we made very substantial progress in terms of:

  • securing firm commitments from key partner organisations and individuals
  • formation of an academic core team with participants from EFL-U and Delhi University
  • project planning for all three years of the programme.

This visit included consultations with over 30 leading academics in ELT from seven key ELT and Education organisations across India (with two joining the Hyderabad consultations and the other five the Delhi one).

Debanjan Chakrabarti, Head of English Research and Publications for the Council in India, also secured an important meeting with Dr Jagdish Arora, Director of INFLIBNET (the library network that connects all HE institutions in India). He immediately saw the merit of the project and offered to host it on the INFLIBNET server, subject to a MoU /contract that is also ratified by his organisation.

In addition to the core project consultations and planning, I also conducted a series of capacity building and mentoring symposia – two in Hyderabad (one for 40 Ph D and M Phil students, and one with research supervisors) and one in Delhi, jointly with Professor Rama Mathew, Dean and Head of the Department of Education / Central Institute of Education, for 30 PhD/ M Phil students and academics.Prof Mathew and I had previously made the final recommendations for the first ELT Research Partnership Awards, the results of which were publicly announced on 29 July.

The talk has been recorded and will be edited and shared on the British Council India website as part of capacity building support for ELT research and also to provide guidance for the next round of ELTRP Award applicants.

Hyderabad's iconic Charminar

Hyderabad’s iconic Charminar

It was evident from my consultations with academics and other leading ELT professionals, from evaluating the ELTRP applications and from conversations with research students in ELT and Education that there are pressing needs for support and research capacity building in the field of ELT in India which the British Council is beginning to fill.

 

 

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Turn your love of Cricket into success with English!

British Council and Kris Srikkanth together on 9 May 2013 launched EnglishStrokes, an online course that helps you improve your English by exploring South Asia’s favourite sport, cricket.

If you want to broaden your horizons, work in an international company, study abroad or just use the internet, then English is the key.

The objective of EnglishStrokes is to enhance employment potential and lifestyle aspiration of young people by providing access to quality English language learning opportunities. As a result, they develop their confidence, accuracy, fluency and communicative ability. The aim is to provide an online English language course which is engaging and delivers supplementary learning.

Rob Lynes, Director of the British Council in India says, “Recognising the growth of digital media we have developed mobile and computer applications and online courses to reach out to learners of English directly. EnglishStrokes combines learning with fun and mobility and is a great way for young sports persons to develop English language skills”

Kris Srikkanth, renowned cricketer and owner of Sun Online says, “What better way to teach English than through cricket? EnglishStrokes is designed to let you have lots of fun and learn along the way.”

You will find listening activities, video content, games, conversations, cricketing facts, fun tasks and language exercises. You can also listen to anecdotes from some of your favourite cricket players, learn more about their profiles and watch them in action! This site gives you the confidence and skills you need to communicate effectively in English and help you achieve your goals and dreams!

EnglishStrokes

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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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English in the corporate sector

The 2008 NASSCOM Everest report warned that the ITES sector in India needs to recruit beyond the ‘ready to eat’ pool of talented graduates. With BPO expanding into 2nd and 3rd tier cities and even into rural areas, what does this mean for the future of the Indian corporate sector? How can India take advantage of its demographic dividend (nearly half the population is under 25)? What measures are necessary in the education and corporate sectors, and who is responsible. These are some of the questions we will be debating at the Third Policy Dialogue in Delhi, 19-20 Nov. What are your views?

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