Tag Archives: British Council

World Voice Project: Manchester residency programme for trainers

WVP trainer Shubhangi Tewari looks back at her residency programme in Manchester

The week-long Manchester Residency programme, brought together master trainers from nine countries with World Voice UK trainers and vocal leaders from the Greater Manchester Music Education Hub (GMMEH). Each of the overseas master trainers’ worked in a ‘celebration school’ chosen from nine boroughs of Greater Manchester — Bolton, Bury, Rochdale, Tameside, Wigan, Stockport, Oldham, Trafford and Salford.

World Voice Project residency

World Voice Project residency programme in Manchester

I worked in the borough of Stockport with students from Cale Green Primary school, whom I taught a song in the pahadi language spoken in Himachal Pradesh, India. The students also learnt about some Indian musical instruments and some features of north Indian classical music. There were also one-off workshops in other schools in Stockport — Mersey Vale, Prospect Vale and Back Lane Primary schools.

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

WVP trainer, Shubhangi Tewari

The World Voice Project aims to promote learning through song. By learning a song from a different culture and using it as a springboard into the learning of various aspects of that culture and country made learning much more joyful. One could tell by the twinkle in the students’ eyes and the complete focus with which they learnt the song, asked questions and also by their impeccable behaviour.

I also had the opportunity to observe some activities carried out by the Stockport Music Service — like observing a Guitar Wider opportunities session in progress and also attending a squad performance by children at St. Joseph’s Primary School. It was a privilege to be invited to performances by the GMMEH brass band and “It’s a Musical World” event at the Macron stadium in Bolton, where many schools from the borough of Bolton participated in and presented music from cultures as diverse such as the Carribean, Colombian, native American and South African, among others.

On the final day of the residency, we had performances through the day at the University of Manchester, with students from every celebration school from the Greater Manchester region, performing the songs they learnt from India, Jordan, Palestine, Senegal, Nepal, Ethiopia, Chile, Brazil and Argentina. They even sung local songs and a number specially written for the World Voice Project called Starlight.

World Voice workshop in Manchester

World Voice workshop in Manchester

It was incredible to watch so many young children from the UK sing in different languages — Pahadi, Amharic, Wolof, Arabic, Spanish and Nepali, which they had picked up within a matter of four sessions. The experience was and deeply moving, re-iterating for all to see, the immense power of music and song in cutting across barriers of language, culture and all other markers of difference and creating sheer joy, a positive inquisitiveness into lives’ and cultures’ different from one’s own and a sense of remarkable achievement.

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Building bridges through dance

Vanessa Mirza, Director, Dance Bridges Festival, Kolkata, India 2015, writes about her experience of organising a multi-dimensional dance festival in Kolkata. The British Council was one of many partners of the festival, which concluded recently. 

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

The Dance Bridges Festival is a new initiative for dance and the performing arts in Kolkata by Dance Alliance Kolkata. The theme: “Talking Points in Choreography; Dialogues Across Cultures” emerged from a personal curiosity as a choreographer to know more about the creative process of different artists and how cultural influences affect choreographic works.

In curating performances for the Festival, I selected works that highlight this individuality and specificity, sometimes in subtle ways in others more overtly. Artists for the Festival included Van Huynh Company (UK), Anarchy Dance Theatre (Taiwan), I-Fen Tung (Taiwan), Sydney Skov (USA), Janet Reed (USA),Tomas Danielis (Austria), Rocio Berenguer (France), Prasanna Saikia & Buoyant Performing Arts (India). There were also special presentations and workshops by Waileth & Bardon (Sweden) & Meghna Bhardwaj (New Delhi).

Every artist and piece carried a different flavour that is a result of a personal history of dance training, choreographic style, creative decisions but also a reflection of cultural perceptions, thinking and infiltrations. It has been a great pleasure to network with different artists and provide for their needs creating an international experience for performing arts right here in Kolkata.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

A very special part of the Dance Bridges Festival, was a three-week residency with artists from the Van Huynh Company in Kolkata with local dancers. Choreographer, Dam Van Huynh created a beautiful work titled “Resonance” with a company of five local artists and dancer Ieva Navickaite for the Festival. The 20-minute piece has original music accompaniment by Martyna Poznanska created from environmental sounds she recorded live in Kolkata.

Along with performances, the Festival included a section of film screenings with 20 dance films from over 14 countries. The dance films were curated in collaboration with Screendance Festival Sweden, Goethe Institut Kolkata, Gati Dance Forum and other independent artists. This was a truly unique part of the Festival and brought audiences insights into choreographic developments in dance as an art in the medium of film from across the world. During the Festival there were also several workshops in eastern and western styles of dance at different studios in the city providing another platform for sharing knowledge, connection and exchange.

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company Tanaya Bhattacharya

Artists in residency with members from Van Huynh Company. Photo by Tanaya Bhattacharya

As the artistic director and producer for the Festival, it has been a long process of connecting with sponsors and partners. The Festival was possible due to the support and collaboration of Swar Sangam, ITC Ltd.,Goethe-Institut Max Mueller Bhavan, the Austrian Embassy & Austrian Cultural Forum New Delhi, The Swedish Arts Grants Committee (Konstnärsnämnden), Alliance Francaise du Bengale, British Council, Screendance Festival( Sweden), t2 Telegraph, 91.9 Friends FM, Soni Power, Add Life Caring Minds, Rhythmosaic Dance Company, Buoyant Performing Arts Centre, Sparsh Studio for Performing Arts, The Calcutta School of Music aHotel Nest International, Chaitown Creatives and Berger Paints.

It is my intention to host this Festival as a biennial event and the next edition is due to take place in 2017. I hope the Dance Bridges Festival grows from this first edition to continue in building artistic bridges and cultural exchanges within creative communities across the world.

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Changing lives through teacher development

A book launch and panel discussion which spanned two countries and reached out to others through a live webcast proved how easily technology could be used to connect teachers and teaching communities smoothly across  different time zones and across continents, helping them to share ideas and learn from each other.

From left: Prof Amol Padwad, Prof Santosh Panda, Rob Lynes and Alison Barrett launched the global publication Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers in Delhi on 28 November.

From left: Prof Amol Padwad, Prof Santosh Panda, Rob Lynes and Alison Barrett launched the global publication Innovations in the Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers in Delhi on 28 November.

The book was launched simultaneously in Delhi and London with a live audience in both cities listening to a panel of eminent speakers talk on “Can continuous professional development change lives?”

The occasion was the launch of British Council’s global publication Innovations in the Continuing Professional Development for English Language Teachers simultaneously on Friday 28 November in Delhi and London with a live audience in both cities listening to a panel of eminent speakers talk on “Can Continuous Professional Development (CPD) change lives?”

Rob Lynes Director British Council India, welcomed the audience in India, and spoke about “looking forward to engaging with ministry of education, school leaders, training organisations and teacher bodies in assisting their work in continuing professional development, in collaboration with the UK.” Prof Santosh Panda, Chair of National Council of Teacher Education (NCTE), gave a short introduction on the context in India, adding that “CPD was both the responsibility of individual teachers who needed to take the initiative and institutions who needed to provide support”.

Amol Padwad, Head, Department of English, J.M. Patel College, Bhandara, provided an insight into the innovative work and research of the continuing professional development policy think tank in India. This was followed by an illuminating talk on the professional lifecycle of teachers by ELT editor, writer and teacher Tessa Woodward, who spoke the important stages of CPD through a teacher’s life from the young entrant seeking to better their skills to veterans providing a mentoring role for colleagues.

The panel discussion followed with Alison Barrett, Director, English for Education Systems, British Council South Asia, Rama Matthew, Faculty of Education, Delhi University, Delhi and Amol Padwad in India, and ELT experts Rod Bolitho, Loraine Kennedy and Tessa Woodward in London.

The barrage of tweets #ELTCPD, over 140 transmissions of the webcast live and lively debate in London and Delhi made the event a compelling one for any teacher or educator in any country.

You can listen to Alison Barrett discuss her ideas on CPD, related to her experiences from her extensive work with teachers and policy makers in India here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/podcast

The book can be read online here http://issuu.com/britishcouncilindia/docs/e168_innovations_in_cpd_final_web

The recording of the webcast is available here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/seminars/can-continuing-professional-development-change-lives-webcast-recording

More information on the British Council’s work in Continuous Professional Development is available here: http://englishagenda.britishcouncil.org/continuing-professional-development


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An impulse to dance. Again

Hofesh Shechter Company: Political Mother

Hofesh Shechter Company: Political Mother

We’re set to go. Over the next three months India will be enjoying the best of contemporary dance from the UK. Not just by watching the performances which are a rare treat, but also by interacting with performers through a range of activities planned with dance organisations in India and young people across the country, including workshops, master classes and networking events.

All this is part of Impulse 2, the British Council’s new season of contemporary dance. The season is built around 15 performances by leading UK dance companies — Hofesh Shechter Company, Scottish Dance Theatre and Avant Garde Dance.

The first series of performances — Political Mother by Hofesh Shechter Company — brings the sound and feel of a rock concert with gritty, fast-moving visual movements and is described as “especially appealing for young people (14+) because of its fast moving, highly physical choreography”. Watching this video would definitely make anyone agree.

The tour launches in Hyderabad on 5 September and travels to Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Chennai. Find out more about show dates at www.britishcouncil.in/impulse2.

In October, the Scottish Dance Theatre, Scotland’s national contemporary dance company, returns to India (they were here as part of Impulse held in 2012 along with Akram Khan Company, Aakash Odedra Company, Protein and Champloo, where we took contemporary UK dance to seven cities over eight months). The tour will be from 1-11 October 2014 and the performances will be held in Chennai, Bengaluru, Delhi and Kolkata.

In November, we have Avant Garde Dance, a London based company pushing the boundaries of hip-hop and contemporary dance. The tour will be from 1-21 November 2014 and the performances will be held in Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai.

Lots to look forward to. Follow this blog if you want to keep abreast of everything that’s happening around Impulse 2. And do send in your comments and thoughts.

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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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Insecurity or Unconscious Impact: How and Why does Peer Pressure affect us?

People tend to create their own definitions these days, definitions that go beyond the meanings made available in conventional dictionaries; definitions of what needs to be done, what ought to be done and what is the ‘cool’ thing to do. Especially as a student in formative years in schools and colleges, we come to be greatly affected by and in turn, influence those in our seemingly large worlds, often unconsciously. Society and the process of socialisation instil in us from the very beginning the need to be accepted, especially by those around us, to follow certain dos and don’ts. In this regard, peer pressure is a very important part of socialisation.

I’m not saying peer pressure is necessarily bad. It’s just that when we, out of either compulsion or choice, spend a lot of our time with certain people, they often end up impacting us more than they should be. It is in fact often unconscious. There is no harm in learning good stuff from our school and college mates, as long as it’s about discipline, drive or focus. Peer pressure begins to harm when it overshadows the ‘I’ in you. You begin to speak the language that you’ve been told is cool. You stop thinking for/about yourself. Just like alcohol, or drugs, it is a matter of being a part of the ‘hep’ gang in school or college. The primary motive behind this is, not being one of those annoying spoilsports and often most of us fall prey to the ‘herd mentality’.

Science is the way to go. Doesn’t matter if you can’t tell sodium from sodomy, but it is the only track life has to offer or Chartered Accountancy, at best. That is as experimental as you can get after all, everyone around you keeps telling you of the various exams you could take. You will crack some of them and then there are interviews and the bait of great perks. It doesn’t matter whether you have the aptitude or not, or does it?
There is a lot we imbibe from our friends; career and education are among a few choices, but definitely the more important ones. A writer, a blogger, an actor, a dancer would inevitably find himself lost, if not outcast in a group. There is plenty of appreciation in school and college for creative talent and I’m not saying friends are not supportive, but everyone after school wants to know how fat the pay check is.

Peer pressure often stems from insecurity. If we feel that people of our age know their mind, and since we don’t seem to, the easiest thing would be to follow them. After all, we’d be starting at the same points as them. So why not take the same road? And when you are a part of close knit units such as educational institutions or departments or even social circles, it’s normal to get swayed. What we as peers need to develop is sensitivity and the ability to encourage our friends to dream, to think for themselves. We always talk of getting influenced; maybe it is time we introspect about how much impact we make and in what ways.

I don’t think it is right to condemn or look down upon those who succumb to peer pressure in terms of education or career choices. It is a fairly easy way of dealing with stress in life. And it is better than substance abuse, for sure. The only problem is you feel as sick with the results, probably more, and for much longer.

Post by : Lata Jha

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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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Welcome to the British Council Summer School!

Welcome to the Summer School!

Our specially designed Summer School courses are offered for Young Learners in three age groups: 8 – 10, 11 – 12 and 13 – 15 years.

We are pleased to announce that this year’s theme is ‘The Media’. We will explore a different topic each week. The three main topics are: The internet, magazines and television.

delhi yl hi res

Examples of the type of projects that our young learners work on are:

·  writing and performing a mini-drama or play
·  designing and writing a young learner magazine/newspaper
·  taking part in our global art competition

We will also be running a project culminating in a poster presentation given to parents at the end of term. On the last day of the course, you will be invited to watch your child perform on stage and/or see their work on display.

We will also be using this blog to keep you up to date on the latest Summer School events and as a platform to show off the great work produced by our Young Learners this year!

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Winning and losing

There are three kinds of people in this world, first, people who want change, second, people who simply don’t care, and third, people who are the change. Most of us belong to the second or first category; in fact I myself would be lying if I say I belonged to the third category. What is needed today is the conversion of people to the third category and that is what Debating Matters is all about.

Debating Matters is not about superficially arguing and advocating something you find preposterous. It is the change that it brings with it. From listening to experts debating to questioning the very existence of India’s democracy Debating Matters teaches you much more. The various motions touch upon the issues that need the youth’s attention. The amount of research and preparation required for any topic forces you to go deep into the issues and understand the problems that encompass today’s society. It shows you the sorry condition of today but teaches you that change will not drop down from the heavens; rather we will have to strive for it.

In a country filled with the “Wal’s” and the “marts”, where the internationally acclaimed soft power of a country is augmented when every terrorist gets VIP treatment, where liking a post on Facebook puts you behind bars but where politicians get away scot free with religious jibes , the youth needs to rise up and fight. Debating Matters provides a perfect platform for the youth to understand the functionless and stagnant limbo in which we live and raise our voices against it. It teaches us not to adapt but to adopt.

Winning and losing seems insignificant after the three days at Debating Matters. Debating Matters is something beyond just debating; it is after all, the experience that counts. It gives you a view of the reality and instills in you the desire to rise and to bring about change. Be it rape cases or India’s deteriorating political situation, Debating Matters gives you the opportunity to step up and paint your picture of a perfect India and then work towards it.

Sudhir Dhoot
Don Bosco, Park Circus

Don Bosco, Park Circus

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Respect the opinions of others

Debating Matters India was more of a platform to put across opinions than a mainstream competition. Research was given preference over articulation and winning the title of National Champions was exhilarating. I loved how all the participants were all treated equally and every view was respected. I made lifelong friends from across the country, quite literally, and met eminent figures with refined outlooks. Besides this, the night before the Semi-finals and Finals, the groups who had got knocked out and our team just stayed up debating and exchanging points, countering every point and questioning every counter. This journey has so far been the most enthralling experience I’ve had. I just cannot wait for Battle of Ideas Festival in UK!! - Anjani Barhanpure

Debating Matters India was indeed an interesting and gratifying experience. The pyramidal structured competition allowed us to understand and learn about the topic in depth at each and every level. The fact that the competition was solely based on research and not oratory proficiencies was beneficial for students like us. I enjoyed each and every moment of it. The announcement of results kept us at the edge of our seats and left us biting our nails. The competition has allowed me look at the world from a new perspective and has made me a new person when it comes to ideas and ideology.My final take on the competition. Brilliant stuff. Hope  to be a part of it in the future as well. - Avantika Shenoy

Debating Matters India didn’t just change me as a debater; it changed me as a person. I learnt not just to dissect and analyze a topic until it was exposed to its bare essentials, but to appreciate just how much an issue could be read into, as well as an admiration for my opponents and the points they brought up. The competition created an atmosphere of intellectual curiosity which provided a platform for a far greater quality of debate.-  Pratik K Ramesh

The whole experience was exhilarating, as well as an intellectually stimulating and exciting, because we got to watch many smart, opinionated and enthusiastic, not to mention extremely well researched, personalities debate on the matters at hand. The topics were very well chosen, open to interpretation on both ends, with both sides having valid points, which made the debates close fought, fun to watch, and, of course, a genuine pleasure to be a part of.- Sanjay Pitchai

The debate was unique in the sense that the crowd wasn’t drawn into a partisan view, placing one side above the other. All the participants were given the opportunity to hear both sides of the debate in a fair, controlled manner, and were allowed to form their opinion, which, more often than not, was an amalgamation of the best points from both views of the issue at hand. This was clearly seen in the ‘Audience Questions’ portion of the debate, where the same individuals had piercing questions for both of the schools that were debating. - Nikhil Amarnath

I was the only 12th grader in my team. This made the competition harder for me from the outset , since I had very little time to spare for the debates. Also, the competition, both at the regional and national levels, were in the close vicinity of my pre-Boards. However, my team could not have been more understanding and supportive. The competition was a great chance to meet people from all walks of life, each of whom had a very interesting perspective on the issues at hand. Despite the troubles I faced at every stage of the competition, I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else in the world. – Ilhaam Ashraf

As a teacher, it was wonderful to watch the students taking a genuine interest in the social issues being debated. The concern for the issues transcended the debate itself. This was clearly visible in the lunch hour, where the students were seen interacting and discussing the issues with their peers as well as the various judges present. Another great thing that the students were able to take away from the competition was the ability to respect the opinions of others, even when they differed from their own opinion. - Poornima Shekhar

NPS Koramangala

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