The British Council partnered with Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), Unicef, State Council for Educational Research and Training (SCERT) and Alagappa University over ten years between 2007 and 2017 to design and deliver a range of interventions to enhance the quality of teaching and learning of English in classrooms across state-run schools. Over the years, those interventions improved learning outcomes by focusing on improving teachers’ confidence in and proficiency of English, their use of child-centred communicative approaches to teaching English and using activity-based learning toolkits.  

One of the key outputs of the programmes was to develop a pool of suitably trained and motivated teacher educators, deployed across the state via Block Resource Centres.  

Over the years, the British Council trained 1,200 teacher educators, who in turn trained over 100,000 teachers from lower and upper primary grades. Those teachers in turn reached over one million learners across the state. 

Objectives

The objectives of the interventions were to: 

  • develop a cohort of 1,200 teacher educators with training and mentoring competencies, to a pre-agreed quality standard. They then supported ongoing teachers’ in-service professional development in primary schools across Tamil Nadu 
  • develop the teaching skills of primary schoolteachers enabling them to conduct learner-centred lessons in line with their syllabus 
  • develop teachers’ confidence and fluency in spoken English and so enhance the quality of teaching and learning of English in primary classes  
  • build sustainable infrastructure to support in-service teacher training and the continuing professional development of English teachers that could provide a model for other subject disciplines and other bodies. 

Key activities

In partnership with SSA and SCERT, the British Council supported the professional development of a cadre of 300 teacher educators from the Block Resource Centres (BRCs) across the state to enhance the quality of teaching and learning in primary schools.  

In Year 1 (2014) teacher educators received 10 days of training, developing their training skills and equipping them to support the classroom practices of 40,000 primary school teachers in activity-based learning (ABL) schools (Standards 1 to 4), with a focus on early literacy development. 

In Year 2 (2015) teacher educators received a further six days of training developing their mentoring skills and preparing them to support the classroom practices of an additional 31,000 ABL lower primary schoolteachers and 32,000 upper primary schoolteachers in active learning methodology (ALM) schools (Standards 5 to 8). 

Year 3 (2016-17) was extended as several events affecting Tamil Nadu state interrupted the programme. The group of teacher educators was expanded to 600, all of whom received training to train 46,023 teachers of lower and upper primary in techniques for English language teaching. They also supported 3,700 Tamil Nadu teacher educators by developing their teacher training skills. The British Council conducted introductory training on establishing teacher activity groups and produced a report on exploring digital learning options for teacher development in Tamil Nadu. This was based on findings from a small-scale research project and secondary data, to build the local-level sustainability for teacher education. 

 

Impact

Monitoring and evaluation data suggested the following positive impact as a result of the programme: 

  • 71 per cent lower primary school teachers and 44 per cent of upper primary school teachers observed were able to apply learner-centred techniques in their classroom 
  • 66 per cent lower primary school teachers and 45 per cent of upper primary school teachers were able to use English in their classes for a variety of purposes 
  • over 60 per cent of teachers were observed to be creating opportunities for learners to use English 
  • 70 per cent of the teachers interviewed reported that they used the continuing professional development workbook given to them for professional and language development. 

Resources

The English in the Primary Classroom film series offers the primary teacher an opportunity to observe learner-centred methodology at work in the Indian classroom through viewing recording of live sessions. It clearly demonstrates how English can be taught using games, activities and songs complementing the curriculum and textbook. Through the live lessons filmed in actual classrooms in Tamil Nadu, teachers see how they can use interactive and activity-based methods to teach English thus making English learning fun, easy and engaging. While the focus is the Standard 5 textbook from the Tamil Nadu State Board, the accompanying materials help teachers adapt these ideas to other contexts.

A training manual was also designed to be used in face-to-face training situations along with the participant’s workbook. There is also a self-access booklet with comprehensive answer keys and resources to online links and further reading materials. These can be downloaded here.

 

What our stakeholders say

‘Now I feel more confident about using English in the classroom. I am also confident about teaching new vocabulary.’Teacher, Saurashtra Primary school, South Block, Madurai District 

‘Usually, I talk to the teacher at the end of the class. But now I joined teachers in the class in planning and doing activities in the classroom. I support them with ideas, worksheets.’ – BRTE, BRC Panamarathupatti, Salem district.  

External links