Tag Archives: teaching English

Customer Service Week Writing Competition

We had an incredible 35 entries for the CS Week Writing Competition in Delhi, with students sharing their best ever experience at the British Council in 100 words or less.

You can read the winning entries below:

Pooja Nehra
Chetna’s Evolution U3 class Tuesday/Friday, 11.30-1:30
‘Learning at British Council was a wonderful experience. The reason for joining a course here was to develop and regain my confidence while communicating in English. The mixed and loving culture of British Council exposed me to the vast world outside. I met people from different parts of the world and learnt a lot by making them my friends. Thanks to British Council for providing this wonderful service to people like me, without putting a bar on age, culture or religion. I transformed my personality after joining British Council. Thank you.’
Judge’s comments: Pooja articulately and succinctly matches her own customer experience to the core values of the organisation.

Gunel Aliyera
Tapsi’s Evolution I4 class Monday/Thursday, 09.15-11.15
‘On a rainy August morning, while I was coming to my English class in New Delhi, a woman asked me the way to the British Council. I mentioned to her that I was going there and she could accompany me. We both started walking together sharing my rather small umbrella and getting a little wet. Continuing our walk, we got to know a little about each other. She mentioned that that she had lived in Istanbul, Turkey. I was amazed to know that she had lived in the same apartment as me three floors above mine for over a year. As she walked, I was wondering what a small world we lived in. Owing to the British Council and my umbrella, we are now friends.’
Judge’s comments: Approaching the task through a reminisced personal narrative, Gunel produces a sweet, anecdotal work of micro fiction.

Rabiya Khan
Arun’s Evolution P1 class Tuesday/Friday, 14.30-16.30
‘It has been a pleasure while learning at British Council, as I would never forget the time spent here during my course English Evolution Pre Intermediate. It has been an extremely enriching experience both academically and professionally. My best ever experience at the British Council has been the learning experience while attending classes of my teacher Arun Ganapathy as I greatly appreciate the help and hard work. His dedication and commitment has provided me immense satisfaction. As a teacher he exhibits deep understanding of learners like me and strives towards exceeding our expectations. Arun sir – you just rock.’
Judge’s comments: A sophisticated choice of lexis for this level – and recognition of our learner-centric and dedicated teachers – makes Rabiya a deserving winner.

Congratulations to all of our winners. Gift wrapped books will be working their way to Pooja, Gunel and Rabiya!

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Policy Implications for English Teaching and Learning

Hello everyone

It was a pleasure watching the conference sessions live online yesterday. I urge those of you who wanted to attend the conference but could not, to use this facility provided by British Council to watch it live and even take part in it by adding comments. You comments may get discussed.

I tuned in for some of the sessions. Some- like, ‘building skills for employability’- were gripping as well as hilarious. Especially the speech by Manish Sabharwal; was it eloquence epitomized!  Some were eye openers–Policy implications for English teaching and learning. It was quite informative.

‘Policy implications for English teaching and learning’ dealt a lot with scenario in schools in different parts of India. I guess good English teaching and learning in schools will lead to ‘building employability skills’ in the long run!  This points to the lacuna we have in India in this area.

Isn’t that one of the reasons that makes ‘building employability skills’ a necessity now? I have heard private school principals lamenting about the difficulty they face in recruiting good teachers. They have to place the good teachers in high school so that the 10th grade results are not compromised. So most often the worst teachers end up in the primary section.

Rod Bolitho, Academic Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), raised many questions which I felt are very relevant.

Some questions, about the shortage of English teachers in India, are listed below.

  1. How attractive is teaching as a career in India in general?
  2. What is the reason behind the English graduates choosing fields other than teaching as profession?
  3. Is there any appropriate formulated initiative in India to raise the number of English teachers in training?
  4. Has the government decided what the probable number of teachers required to be trained is in order to meet the demand in, maybe, the next 10 years?
  5. Are there enough institutions training teachers?

      Some others, about the quality of English teachers/education, are below.

      1. What is the minimum qualification for school teachers? Is there any standardisation of qualification for the primary school teachers teaching English across India?
      2. In some states the minimum qualification set for the teachers of English is far lower than the others. So is bad English being perpetuated through the system?
      3. What type of pre-service training do they undergo?
      4. What kind of training is going on in pre-service level and how practical is it?
      5. Are the pre-service training institutions calibrated completely against the needs of the teachers?
      6. Are the skills of the teacher educator the skills which are needed to produce methodologically and linguistically competent teachers?

        What is your opinion on these issues? Please write in your comments, would love to hear your ideas.

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        Activity Based Learning

        In this session entitled ‘Managing the Silent Revolution’ the audience watched a video which showed how Activity Based Learning (ABL) has been implemented in schools in Tamil Nadu.  We saw the teacher in a non-traditional role, not as the teacher standing as an authoritative figure at the front of the classroom, but as a facilitator of activities in which children were able to participate much more freely.  Children were encouraged to work in groups and help each other, as well as monitor their own progress.  The classroom scene was a refreshing change from visions of children sitting in rows listening to a teacher; here the role of the child is very much a participative one in which confidence and motivation are key to the learning process.

        The film was a great start to the session on ABL, and will truly motivate teachers in other areas to learn from this project.

        How could other schools implement ABL?

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        Where should Teacher Educators come from?

        In the parallel session, ‘In-service and Pre-service English Language Teacher Education’, the room split into two groups to discuss the best way forward for in-service and pre-service teacher education.

        One recomendation that came out was that Teacher Educators should come from schools and not from institutes or universities. They should be good teachers with a lot of practical experience and not traditional academics with doctorate degrees. What do you think?

        Who is going to select these teachers? How to select them?
        Should teachers be allowed to nominate themselves?
        How do we replace the good teachers who we take out to become teacher educators?
        Your comments please.

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        Continuous Professional Development in the ELT sector

        Rod Bolitho, Academic Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), tells us that the teaching profession is not a static profession and as such, teachers need to continually develop.  

        He also reminds us that development can only come from within an individual – teachers cannot be forced to develop, but they can be exposed to development opportunities. 

        Rod goes on to say that INSETT (in-service teacher training) and CPD (continuous professional development) are not synonymous.  Teacher training is one route that teachers can take to help themselves develop, but there are other ways, such as gaining new qualifications, becoming involved in projects and materials development, mentoring and buddy systems, membership of teaching associations, classroom observations and feedback and autonomous research. 

        How do your schools and institutes ensure that teachers have access to the latest skills and knowledge in the ELT sector?  How is their learning recognised and rewarded?

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        How many years of pre-service training?

        Prof.  Siddiqui, Chair of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)talked about the development of new curriculum framework for teacher education in India that he hopes will be implemented nation wide over the next 3 to 4 years.
        He says pre-service, in-service and professsional development of teachers must be considered as a continuum of teacher education.
        He says there has been a shift towards a more constructivist approach to learning. He recognises a need to enhance language competence and a need to give space for teachers to become reflective practitioners.
        Professor Siddiqui recommends a 2 years post graduation teacher training programme, or 4- 5 years for school leavers (after plus 2).
        How many years pre-service training do you think teachers need?

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        How to manage educational change

        Dr Martin Wedell, Senior Lecturer, University of Leeds presented a session around planning for change in education.

        He said that we are better at planning for change than seeing change in practice.

        He also said change is unlikely to be identically implemented and that ultimately it is what teachers do in classrooms that determines what changes have taken place.

        The neglect of how people actually experience change as distinct from how it might have been intended is at the heart of the spectacular failure of most social  and educational change policies.

        Transition is a complex process – changing teachers to facilitators – we often think that training will take care of that. But it is also a matter of systemic support  – both visible and invisible.

        Societal expectations and assessment systems must also change as well as the teachers and their teaching to ensure successful change processes.

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        High speed eloquence

        I want to draw your attention to Manish Sabharwal’s presentation at the Third Policy Dialogue, Session 3, Building Skills for Employability. Manish is CEO and President of Team Lease.

        Manish spoke with such eloquence, wit and at such breakneck speed, that he managed to keep us all on the edge of our seats straight after lunch! His talk is peppered with so many wonderful soundbytes that I urge you to view at it in your own time. Find out what he meant by ‘the ovarian lottery’ and why  ’English is like (Microsoft) Windows.’

        Enjoy!

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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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        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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