[As appeared on The Better India, October 2017]
Using live online classrooms and guided online activities, these teachers are changing the traditional model and bringing the classroom to their students across India.
myEnglish teachers at the British Council, India are guiding adult learners to achieve success through interactive online English courses. Unlike most teachers however, their job comes with a twist – their classroom exists in the virtual world!
Read responses from some of our myEnglish teachers to questions about their work and their students.
How did you get into this very 21st century way of working?
Purbani: “I was given an opportunity to be a part of an online teacher-training programme. The course opened new avenues for me and I realised that online teaching might just be the future of education”.
Avinash: “I’ve always been interested in the use of technology in making learning engaging and more accessible. I’d had some experience as a student and was interested in the implications it had for a teacher. I felt there were several possibilities to be explored with online teaching.”
Huma: “The excitement of doing something so new and the fear of the unknown meant it would expand my teaching skills as well as give the flexibility and convenience of working at my own pace in my own space – something I had been long wishing for.”
Ellora: “I love teaching online. It allows me to work from home which saves time and allows flexibility”.
Rajul: “I can see all my students; I connect with them online and deliver classes prepared for them in a relaxed, fun manner without feeling the need to travel and rush into class from home. I am teaching from home! Even the students don’t have to go to class; the class comes to them wherever they are”.
What’s a typical week on a course like for your students?
Huma: “Interactive, practical, exciting, and demanding nevertheless! Everything that happens in a face-to-face class is possible here. The only thing different – the location, of course”.
Purbani: “A student spends around five hours of study on online activities per week and meets the trainer and the classmates for two hours over a live online session. The study time can be spread across the week or can be spent on two consecutive days – the flexibility is key”.
Avinash: “Students complete their online activities in order to prepare for the forum discussions and online classes as they’re linked and build on each other. They respond to forum posts and add their own. This gives them a chance to practise the language they’ve learned and this gives me an opportunity to respond to their opinions and ideas and give individual feedback”.
Rajul: “They also review videos to recap their learning, increase their vocabulary and access the website to explore and learn more. Unknowingly they learn to manage their time and study independently, overcome their fear of writing and gain confidence in their speaking. They communicate with others without hesitation in real life situations”.
What are the benefits of teaching and learning in an online format? Have you faced and overcome any challenges?
Huma: “I’m neither a technophobe nor am I tech-savvy. Like some of my students, I’ve had to work my way through handling technology but it’s been fun. I tell myself that I’ve been developing some 21st Century skills!”
Purbani: “In a face-to-face classroom, we often see that the learning stops once the learner leaves the classroom. On an online course, the possibilities of learning are limitless”.
Avinash: “One of the main challenges both learners and I have faced as a teacher is time management. In my experience, setting realistic weekly targets and working frequently and for shorter durations has helped most students and me have an enjoyable and enriching experience on the course”.
Can you share any success stories?
Rajul: There’s a student who was not even ready to write or talk to anyone because he didn’t feel confident. He’s currently enrolled in an MBA class! Another student was unwilling to speak in class. He would just say ‘I can’t’. After the course, he got selected to appear for a TV interview”.
Huma: “One of my students has special needs and passed the course! This also goes to show that we are truly inclusive and the courses are meant for everybody”.
Avinash: “I taught an award-winning actor. She wanted to develop her fluency and accuracy as she had upcoming projects in international films. Over 3 courses she has developed her accuracy to a great degree, especially in pronunciation, and is now so much more confident with intonation and emotion in the English language.”
Purbani: “At the formal launch of myEnglish courses in August a former student of mine spoke to the gathered press in an eloquent manner about his wonderful experience on our online courses”.
Ellora: “A student from my class wanted to speak better English so he could study International Law. When he joined my class he had scored a 5 in IELTS. He completed the whole level and took his IELTS again, he scored a 7.5. He’s going to Canada in 2018 for his studies”.