Category Archives: General

Raising Continuing Professional Development awareness in Chandigarh

Emma Sue Prince training a group of teachers

Emma Sue Prince training a group of teachers

“Blessings and may you be the best you can be”, so said one of the trainers at the end of a simple ice breaker at one of the Continuing Professional Development awareness-raising workshops I ran recently at the British Council in Chandigarh.

Within 5 minutes of meeting the group, they all enthusiastically took part in my “Copycat” warm-up where they led each other in a series of vocal, physical and energising improvised, on-the-spot exercises.

Working in India is inspiring, uplifting and joyful and I have enjoyed every single visit during the last 18 months. I know that British Council staff have a challenging role here in developing and running large-scale English language programmes. In a way, I have had the “easy” bit as the external consultant facilitating, encouraging, advising, reporting and guiding on best practice for creating and implementing an India-specific CPD framework. My role here has come to an end and now the real work must begin of starting to implement the framework and tools into all projects in a streamlined, consistent and visible way.

Within this project, I have run workshops both with British Council staff (to develop the framework and the right tools, to facilitate planning and implementation and to promote a strong team) as well as with groups of teacher, Master Trainers and school principals and support staff. (to raise awareness and to get ideas of what sorts of CPD work in practice).

Working with Indian teachers and practitioners, the sentiment I have come across again and again is echoed in the words of the elegant, turbaned Master Trainer in Chandigarh “being the best you can be” and an immediate understanding that that is, ultimately what CPD really is. Another immediate understanding is the concept of “self-awareness” – when I mention this to Western audiences, it is seen as ‘touchy-feely’ and there is generally a slight feeling of discomfort in the audience. Mention it in India, however, and everyone gets it.

For me, investing time and focus on yourself personally is at the heart of all CPD. In other words, finding purpose and meaning in your work and fulfilling your own potential. This creates motivation, excitement and a massive ripple effect on the way you teach or train, the impact you have in the learning environment and the way you feel about your work. Why?  Because, quite simply, you gain more confidence, enrich your own learning and achieve much more personal and professional satisfaction as a result. Self-awareness means having a clear perception of your personality, including strengths, weaknesses, thoughts, beliefs, motivation, and emotions. Self-awareness allows you to understand other people, how they perceive you, your attitude and your responses to them in the moment. These are all things a teacher in India needs, if they are going to navigate their own CPD journey in a country where support may be erratic.

One of the CPD tools that British Council staff will now start using in projects is running simple self-awareness sessions having discussions and conversations and understanding what motivates teachers. Looking for the purpose and meaning and exploring any limiting beliefs or barriers.

I strongly believe that it is exactly these kinds of conversations that will start to open and unlock the doors to self-initiated CPD.

Workshop photographs can be viewed by clicking here

Post by: Emma-Sue Prince, Director Unimenta

You can also read  Self Awareness – something money can’t buy written by her.

About the contributor:

Emma Sue Prince worked with the British Council India between March 2012 and October 2013 on the development and implementation of an India-specific CPD framework. She is Director of Unimenta – a free membership site for teachers and practitioners delivering soft skills –

She is also author of The Advantage, a book which redefines soft skills as personal competences each of us can develop –


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Monkey business

I saw Gandhi’s three monkeys yesterday – seeing, hearing and speaking no evil, but doing much mischief on one of the little terraces at the back of the British Council building in Delhi.  Over the summer, one of them turned on a tap outside, and flooded part of our library.  Tricky customers to get rid of, these monkeys – we can’t use our faithful langoor any more to chase them off, and they are fearless and shameless.  They have no regard for the expressive lines of Charles Correa’s architecture or the instantly recognisable shadows of Howard Hodgkin’s tree mural in the façade of our building.  They care little for knowledge or libraries, even though we have both “Fearless” and “Shameless” in the British Council catalogue.  We care, however – and we care for our building.  It needs some work, and this month we’ve started.  We are going to make it a better building for all the things we do with you – English teaching, the arts, examinations, and education.

Right now, I can hear hammers being wielded in distant parts of the building.  It reminds me that like all such projects, this is going to be noisy, dusty, challenging; but at the end of it we’ll have a great space to share with you.  There will be new classrooms, a new ground floor café and exhibition space, and a new library.  We will improve the way we meet and talk with you, by upgrading our customer service.  All of this is part of a wider enhancement of the way we work in India – offering more English teaching and examinations, reaching more people by doing more online, working from better premises and offering more opportunities for education and cultural exchange.

We are not going to issue bland notices about “any inconvenience that may be caused”; you rightly expect more honesty and directness than that from the British Council, so I can guarantee that, unfortunately, there will be inconvenience caused by this project.  We apologise for this.  But we can also guarantee that at the end, we will have a great space and great facilities to offer you.

We will probably still have the monkeys, but we’ve put locks on the taps.

Post by: Paul Clementson, Assistant Director Operations, British Council


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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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From ‘ELIPS’ to ‘ELISS’: New partnerships with the Maharashtra Government

The English Partnerships team in West India have much to celebrate. After the successful delivery of the first year of the Maharashtra English Language Initiative for Primary Schools (ELIPS), the English Partnerships team have signed another agreement with the Maharashtra State Government – this time for a four-year English Language Initiative for Secondary Schools (ELISS) project.

Signed by A.D Kale, State Project Director, Maharashtra Prathamik Shikshan Parishad and Sam Harvey, Director West India on 6 July 2013 at the Y. B Chavan Centre in Mumbai, the celebratory ceremony was attended by Rajendra Darda, Hon’ble Minister for School Education, Government of Maharashtra, Fauzia Khan, Minister for State, School Education in Government of Maharashtra, J. S. Saharia, Additional Chief Secretary, School Education Department, Government of Maharashtra and other state officials.

Addressing the gathering, Rajendra Darda reiterated to the audience the importance of English as a globally accepted language and said it was imperative for the students of the state to acquire command over it.

More than 65000 primary school teachers – per phase, received training across the state in the first two phases of the Maharashtra English Language Initiative for Primary Schools (ELIPS) project. Following this model, the RMSA (Rashtriya Madhyamik Shiksha Abhiyan) approached the British Council to design a similar project working with secondary school teachers from Government and Government-aided schools in the State of Maharashtra.

The ELISS project aims to develop the English language skills as well as basic communicative teaching methodology through face to face training and continuous professional development for secondary schools teachers. 550 master trainers will be trained by the British Council trainers, who will then conduct needs-based training for 20,000 secondary school teachers over a period of four years.

Several corporates and Foundations were part of audience at the signing and were exposed to the breadth of the British Council’s work in English and thus have now been drawn into exploring the potential of working together.

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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!


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Mohit Chauhan: The face of World Voice Project

The World Voice Project was launched in India with a four-day workshop on singing, held from 14 to 18 March 2013 at the N.I.E. Auditorium in the N.C.E.R.T. Campus, New Delhi. The workshop was led by Mr Richard Frostick (Artistic Director, World Voice project) and Mr Mohit Chauhan (Musician and Indian World Voice Champion), with around 70 participants including, school students (age groups 9-11), school music teachers and independent music trainers from various public and private schools across Delhi in India.

The World Voice Programme is a pioneering initiative between the British Council and the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT). It endeavours to promote arts in school education and uses music through singing to support the development of musicality and contribute towards a wider learning. It will promote sharing of British expertise in singing education with classrooms globally and to promote an exchange of skills, knowledge and understanding between all participating countries; support colleagues from around the world who wish to learn more about singing leadership techniques; provide a network where countries can forge long-lasting working relationships; provide resources which teachers and young people can use in the classroom; and last but not the least, celebrate singing as a fundamental global expressive art.

During the much enjoyed workshop sessions, the school children learnt six English songs well as a Hindi song, ‘Morni’ (a Himachali folk song from the western Himalayas) taught by Mr Mohit Chauhan. The other Hindi song, unanimously selected by the participants was ‘Saare Jahan se Accha’. The sessions were joyful, lively and interesting as Mr Richard Frostick, employed a step- by- step approach to explain the background as well as the geographic, historic or cultural context of each song. In addition to this, he emphasized on correct body posture; proper breathing; voice modulation and accuracy in pronunciation. The students were fascinated with the new words and phrases that they learnt while learning the songs.

During the interactive sessions, the teaching techniques and learning experiences were discussed and exchanged by the school music teachers and the music trainers. Richard emphasized on integrating music into the curriculum, for which he felt lesson planning was necessary. He stressed on ‘learning to be fun for the children’.

Post workshop, Mohit who never had any formal training, said that “music has a way of doing things with people”. He also remarked that he was delighted to teach kids as they picked up lyrics and tune of a Himachali folk song within two hours.

It is interesting to know that the idea for the World Voice project grew in the UK with one goal: to promote learning through music and, in the process, connect classrooms around the world. Cathy Graham, Director Music, British Council, who has 14 years of professional experience in music, said, “Singing is a joyful experience. If you start it young, you have it for life. We would like the World Voice Programme to leave a legacy such that perhaps 10 years from now, children of one country are happily singing the traditional songs of another. They are all doing it without knowing why.”

So, would you agree if we say that such is the magic of music as it connects people globally by transcending the physical limits and connect directly with you? Share your views with us.


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Jubilee Scholars: Indian students visit Downing Street

Priyank with the other Jubilee Scholars outside Number 10 (image credit: Frank Noon)

Priyank Hirani, who is studying for a master’s at Imperial College London on aJubilee Scholarship, writes about visiting Number 10 Downing Street. The scholarship allows young Indians to study in the UK for a one-year master’s degree in management, manufacturing, science and technology.

A sunny day would be enough reason for a smile on a Londoner’s face. But for me, it was more than just a sunny day. It’s not every day that you are invited to tour 10 Downing Street, the Prime Minister’s official residence and office in the UK. Like nearly everyone else, I had only stood on one side of those black bars at the security entrance before, but the feel of being on the other side was, to put it plainly, absolutely incredible! The visit, organized by the British Council for the Indian Jubilee Scholars, came in after a couple of days of David Cameron urging Indian students to come to ‘welcoming’ Britain. Needless to say, we were excited to be the privileged few to get access to such an important place.

One cannot help but feel special (read: lucky) when one’s tour guide for the day is Conrad Bird, the director of the GREAT campaign. After a warm welcome from him, we entered the house that can be considered one of the most important decision-making places in the UK, and with little doubt throughout the world as well. The furniture has been well-maintained since centuries, each room is carefully and specially designed – some have a lot of symmetry, some glowing with golden shades, some extremely artistic – each with an elegance I have never seen before. There are conference rooms, dining halls and offices, but the one room that gives me goose-bumps is the cabinet meeting room. Come to think of it, this room has seen the likes of Winston Churchill take some of the most important decisions in world history, among many other historic decisions over centuries. I could certainly smell an air of power there.

Mr. Bird introduced us to Larry, the cat (apparently it was Larry’s birthday and I wondered if we were invited to celebrate that), showed us the mementos from the heads of various countries, the silverware, the collection of art works including paintings and wooden sculptures, and fascinatingly enough let us sit on those chairs, each valued at THOUSANDS of pounds – yes, you read that right! We learnt about British history, and finally how each Prime Minister gets his picture on the walls upon leaving office. The tour ended with a few pictures outside 10 Downing Street, and we thanked Mr. Bird and the British Council staff before going back to our busy university lives.

It is true that weekdays can get quite hectic with lectures (from some of the best professors in the world), labs and submissions looming over your head, but I try to take out time on weekends to go around London; after all it has so much to offer – from museums to palaces, to parks, to the London Eye, and so much more. Having enjoyed a traditional Christmas celebration with a British family in the Lake District, I feel I have experienced not just ‘Knowledge is GREAT Britain’ but also ‘Countryside is GREAT Britain’.

I have learnt a lot in these past few months from friends and classmates, from situations and experiences set in a truly multicultural environment and I have a wealth of knowledge to take back home.

Find out about other scholarship opportunities for Indian students.

Search for scholarship opportunities through the Education UK website. The scholarship search box is on the right hand side.

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Indian English Summer in London in January


British Council India, working in partnership with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the UK Trade and Industry (UKTI) and Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), presented the UK India English Partnerships Forum in London on 30 January 2013 at its corporate headquarters at Spring Gardens.

Over 100 key external contacts from the UK English language teaching sector, drawn from the public as well the private sectors and cutting across all levels, including research interests from the HE, took part in the intense half-day event.

The Indian delegation included Mr Rajendra Darda, Honourable Minister of Education form Maharashtra, one of India’s largest states with a strong industry, finance and entrepreneurship background, Prof Sunaina Singh, VC of the English and Foreign Language University (EFL-U) of India and Sanjiv Kaura, CEO, Corporate Social Responsibility of Times of India Group, one of the largest media conglomerates in India and Dr Rukmini Banerjee, Director of Pratham ASER Centre, the largest NGO working in education India.

Rob Lynes, Country Director, British Council India, and Mark Robson, Director English and Examinations, stressed the role of English in growing cultural relations and international business.

While Prof R Amritavalli of the EFL-U framed the extremely varied context of English language learning in the country, Alison Barrett (Assistant Director, English Partnerships, India) shared lessons the British Council has gleaned from working extensively in tandem with state governments, NGOs, corporate social responsibility organisations, UK institutions such as the Open University and donors such DFID and UNICEF.

Dr Rukmini Banerjee presented the findings of the English learning outcomes at the primary level in India from the ASER 2012 survey.

Michael Connolly presented the British Council’s DFID-supported work in the state of Bihar, one of the least developed states in India, through an excellent film that captured the yearning for education among some of the most deprived and marginalised communities in India, and the role of English within that demand for quality education. Prof Richard Smith of Warwick University and Prof Paul Gunashekar of EFL-U presented the priorities and a framework for bilateral cooperation between the two countries in ELT research.

Chris Brandwood, Director English, South Asia, chaired the second session which presented opportunities in India for English language providers in the UK. Leighton Ernsberger, Senior Education and Skills Advisor, British High Commission in India, presented bespoke research on the ELT market in India, while Nirupa Fernandez, Assistant Director English Digital Partnerships, British Council India gave an overview of what opportunities India offered in terms of English language learning technology platforms, softwares and applications.

Rebecca Walton, Director Partnerships and Business Development and member of the British Council’s executive summed up the day’s proceedings by underlining the importance of partnerships in British Council’s work.

The British Council is extremely relevant in India because it brings together people and expertise from several sectors on one platform, from English language, to education, to development, to civil society partnerships,” said Dr Rukmini Banerjee. She was responding to a question from a journalist, on why the British Council continues to assist 11 state governments in India in improving English in the public education systems despite the in-house expertise of a country that has over 300 million speakers of English.

There were several face-to-face meetings set up on the sidelines of the forum, and delegates from India also visited the National College of School Leadership in Nottingham, the BETT Show in London and visited the Centre for Applied Linguistics at Warwick University.

At Warwick, the impressive buildings of the Warwick Manufacturing Group, many of them sporting the Tata logo, brought a smile on the face of the Indian delegates and staff, a timely reminder of the ties that bind India and the UK and the language we share in common – English.

Download reports:

  1. UK-India ELT Research Collaborations
  2. UK India English Partnerships Forum presentation 
  3. ELT Market India – Market Opportunity Report
  4. Demand for English Language Services in India and China
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Gearing up for Champloo

champloo changed againAfter an immensely successful run of 4 tours from the UK, we are eagerly awaiting the last and final tour by Champloo, who with their explosive & unique production are a fitting end to this exciting season of dance titled impulse.

February will be a bittersweet month for us as we gear up for one of the biggest dance companies from the UK to hit Indian shores.

Bristol based Champloo is one of UK’s leading B-Boying dance companies – founded in 2007 by Wilkie Branson. Highly regarded for his dance film work, White Caps represents Wilkie Branson’s first major live work. Integrating lyrical film with explosive breakdance, White Caps is a multimedia experience that follows the journey of two young men as they embark on an epic and gruelling personal adventure.

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Protein Dance Company – Performances


3 big screens that create a wall like backdrop. Facebook, Emails, Twitter.. The ever familiar sound effects of an email pinging in your inbox, a facebook notification, people liking your status, your photos, the awkwardness of online dating sites and the reality of the people you meet online.. All this and much more formed the crux of Protein’s LOL.

An extremely well written, witty take on the social mores in an internet age, LOL was performed by versatile actors/dancers who kept the audience engaged and connected with their quick moves and breathtaking dialogues.

Director Luca Silvestrini also made appropriate changes in the script to connect to the audience of the city they were performing in with words like Dosa and Big Bazaar featuring prominently.

Protein is a must watch performance for all internet users. It makes you laugh yet think at the same time.

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