British Council India’s 21st century approach to language and learning

Antonius Raghubansie

Chennai: English is the language of the 21st century. Science and technology papers are written predominantly in English today and most countries have it as one of their official languages.

So, a 21st century language such as English needs a 21st century approach to learning and teaching. Recognising this aspect, the British Council has launched Primary Plus programme, intended to teach English to children through modern, fun and interactive tools like animation, storytelling and so on.

British Council’s Head of Teaching and Cultural Centres in India, Antonius Raghubansie explained to News Today how Primary Plus will revolutionise language learning.
Excerpts from the interview:

Q: Who is Primary Plus aimed at and why?
A: Primary Plus is for children aged 6 to 11 years to improve their communication skills alongside 21st century skills such as critical thinking, leadership and creativity. It helps them build confidence, supporting learning across all subjects and life, in general.

Q: How is it different from other English language courses?
A: Our approach gives children the language skills they need to express themselves. Children will be encouraged to take the lead. We see parents as partners and give challenging and interesting homework that sometimes involve family members or friends. The teaching methodology of the course is different in the way it allows children to imbibe the spirit of teamwork by encouraging them to interact in pairs and small groups to come up with solutions to the problems in hand.

Q: How helpful is animation-based English teaching?
A: We have partnered with Aardman Animations to bring lessons to life by animating popular stories like Shaun the Sheep and Friends. Shaun’s stories allow a child to encounter and learn English in context and help to remember new words more effectively. Animation-based learning facilitates thinking and problem-solving. It helps learners connect visual cues and sound to communicate a topic. This also develops research skills such as collaborative working, working with technology and organisational skills.

Q: Can the course be done at home online?
A: We will soon be launching the online portal for children and parents. This is designed for parents to help their child continue learning English at home. On it, we will find grammar and vocabulary activities, song and video content that are unlocked when ‘homework’ is completed. This will help parents track their child’s progress at home.

Q: Tell us about other programmes run by British Council.
A: We also offer courses for adults – both face-to-face and digital. We have courses for adults and children to improve overall communication skills at home or work, take an English exam, or simply develop spoken English skills. We also run the CELTA (Certificate in the Teaching of English to Speakers of Other Languages), an internationally recognised initial teaching qualification from Cambridge English Assessment. CELTA gives you the essential skills, knowledge and hands-on teaching practice you need to teach English to adults.

The next batch of Primary Plus classes start 14 February at British Council’s Chennai Teaching Centre, No. 737, Anna Salai. The course duration is eight weeks. The course will also be held at British Council teaching centres in Delhi and Kolkata also.

For details, visit www.britishcouncil.in

A Harsha Vardhan