British Council

TeachingEnglish Radio India is a series of 24 fifteen minute audio programmes providing advice and training for teachers of English working in schools in India with large classes and few resources.

The 24 programmes focus on developing specific learner-centred teaching approaches that primary and secondary school teachers can use in their classrooms, as recommended by India's National Curriculum Framework (2005).

The programmes are accompanied by two workbooks available in the 'Downloads' section below – one workbook for programmes 1-12 and the other for programmes 13-24.

The workbooks and audio programmes are designed to be used by individual teachers and small groups as a self access resource or with support from a teacher educator or mentor.

Click on the links below to listen to each programme. Don’t forget to complete our feedback form to let us know what you think about this resource!

Programme 1: Changing our teaching

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  • Learner-centred teaching moves the focus away from the teacher and onto the learners.
  • Learners are actively involved in the classes. They build their knowledge with the support of the teacher and the other students.
  • One way of making classes more learner-centred is asking learners to work in pairs and groups.
  • The move towards learner-centred teaching is supported by both central and state government policy in India.
  • The National Curriculum Framework (2005) document supports this approach. The TeachingEnglish Radio India workbook contains references to this document.

Programme 2: Planning your lessons

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  • What are the main learning aims in the units you teach? What do your learners need to do and learn? Divide your classes into different stages. For example, a friendly warmer to introduce the topic, a task to do while reading or listening, and some speaking practice post-reading/listening.
  • Decide how long to spend on each activity, but be flexible. Move from what is already known to what is new.
  • Aim to have a balance of different skills – listening, speaking, reading and writing – and a mix of working as a whole class or in pairs and groups. Think about which materials you will use for the different activities.

Programme 3: Pair and group work

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  • Pair and group work can give all learners a chance to participate and practise, so everyone gets to listen and speak. In large classrooms, this is the only way of getting all the learners actively involved.
  • Combine whole class activities, group work and pair work. The teacher’s role changes during group work. While the learners work in groups, the teacher quietly walks around and monitors.
  • We can negotiate with other teachers if a lesson is going to be noisy, or we can use space outside. Working together, learners feel more free, less fearful, and gain confidence in using English.

Programme 4: Pair work – a classroom visit

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  • We visit a classroom and heard pair work in action. This can give all learners a chance to participate and practise, and it can be very motivating.
  • Shobha uses pair work for a warm up activity. Then she sets up group work for a reading text with questions.
  • Start group tasks with clear instructions and a demonstration. Check the learners have understood what they have to do. Give learners roles in their groups: a monitor, a writer, a presenter, etc.
  • Change the members of each group frequently, so they sit in different places and work with different learners. This avoids ‘back-benchers’: learners who always sit at the back of the class.

Programme 5: Developing teachers’ English

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  • Exposure to English on the TV and radio will enrich your language. Practising English regularly will build your confidence and fluency.
  • Can you find other teachers of English to talk to? What books and magazines can you find to read? Could you do some regular writing or keep a diary? Don’t be afraid of making mistakes when you are trying to improve your fluency.
  • Can you build your vocabulary? Use a dictionary to learn new words and expressions and record them in a notebook.

Programme 6: Using English in class

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  • Using English to organise and set up your lessons gives you a golden opportunity to give your learners extra listening and speaking practice.
  • For teachers who haven’t tried using English when they are giving instructions, it is a good idea to do this in small steps. Get together with colleagues and make a list of useful expressions for teachers: open your books, form a circle, please raise your hand, etc.
  • We can teach our learners some useful expressions and encourage them when they try to speak to us in English. Reinforce your instructions with gestures and by writing the words on the board.
  • Start some classes with speaking activities. Tell your learners what you’ve been doing and ask them a few personal questions about their weekend and evenings – all in English.
  • Decorating the classroom with lots of English signs, posters and the learners’ work can also make it clear this is an ‘English space’ and that it is the language to use.

Programme 7: Using the textbook creatively

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  • The textbook is a useful tool, but add activities that make it more interesting and relevant to your learners’ contexts.
  • Include opportunities for speaking and listening and learners’ active participation. Plan activities that link your classroom to the outside world.
  • Use pictures from magazines and simple drawings to make posters and flashcards. Use them again in other classes or share with colleagues.
  • Don’t always start classes by opening the textbook. Use warm-up activities to get the children interested. Plan extra activities to give them extra practice in the objectives of the textbook unit.

Programme 8: Activities to motivate

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  • We heard about a group activity in which children make a chart about a favourite film, setting up a learners’ book corner, talking about books and writing short stories to put on the wall.
  • We motivate our learners by encouraging and praising them, by allowing them freedom to work creatively and actively.
  • There are many motivating activities that you can do with your learners for listening and speaking and for writing and reading: songs, games, quizzes, puzzles and competitions. Share your own ideas and materials with other teachers. Adapt them for the level of your classes and the things they need to practise.

Programme 9: Teaching reading

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  • We can help our learners by giving them activities before they read (pre-reading), while they are reading (while-reading) and after reading (post-reading).
  • Learners need to develop reading skills like predicting, reading to get the main idea (skimming) and reading for specific details (scanning).
  • Before reading, we can discuss what might be in a text, help with some vocabulary, or write some questions we hope the text will answer.
  • We can ask a few general questions just before learners read, to help them understand the main idea.
  • To help with reading for details we can ask learners to find dates, names or other information to answer questions or complete a chart. Or like Reeta does in the programme, we can ask them to first predict the story and then to read it to find out if they were right.

Programme 10: Teaching listening

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  • We spend a lot of time listening and we must help our learners develop this skill. Always use as much English in class as possible, including instructions and talking to your learners from the start of the lesson. This increases their exposure to English.
  • Always give your learners reasons for listening – set tasks before, during and after listening. This helps them focus.
  • Regularly read stories or articles, and set up pair work discussions to get your learners listening to you and each other. As with reading, we can practise skills like predicting, listening for gist, and listening for specific details.
  • Look for a variety of sources for listening. Invite other teachers or visitors to your class occasionally, or try to use a mobile phone or computer to record and play audio in class.

Programme 11: Supporting each other

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  • We should find ways of regularly meeting other teachers to discuss problems, plan lessons, make materials and share resources. Don’t wait for experts from outside – find solutions that will work for you.
  • Teachers working in the same area can meet regularly to discuss teaching approaches and develop their English.
  • Teachers can help each other by doing friendly peer observations. We learn a lot by watching each other and reflecting on our own teaching.
  • You can ask a colleague to observe a particular area of your teaching. For example, observing how much time the children are active and passive.

Programme 12: Flexible activities

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  • To encourage our learners to be active participants in our lessons, we should plan short and lively activities to interest them in English.
  • Start with a warm-up activity which gets them in the right mood and talking English in a relaxed way.
  • Link short lively activities to a theme in the lesson. This focuses attention on the words and expressions needed for a topic.
  • A memory game such as I went to the market and I bought a... which goes around the class adding new things each time is useful for remembering vocabulary. A competition like Hot Seat really gets learners thinking for themselves as they try to give clues to their classmates.
  • Always be ready to create a change of scene. The programme features a fun game called Line Jump to practise when to use make and do, which works very well in the open air.

Programme 13: Introducing new words

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  • Teachers can prepare students for what they will read or listen to by exploring key words related to the topic.
  • We can use different ways to demonstrate the meaning of new words, for example by using real objects, pictures and drawings, gestures and actions, songs and translation.
  • There are a few steps we can follow while introducing new words: write the word on the board, model and drill each word (students listen and repeat), put the word into a sentence to help the learners understand the meaning, then get them to work in pairs to make new sentences.
  • It is important to learn words in ‘chunks’ or phrases to understand which words go together. For example, we say ‘weak coffee’ but ‘light rain’. The connected grammar is also important. For example, we don’t say ‘I’m going for shopping’ but just ‘I’m going shopping.’
  • We need to encourage our students to actively increase their vocabulary and to take responsibility for their learning. We can help them to guess meaning from context, discuss ideas with other learners, use a dictionary and keep a vocabulary record.

Programme 14: Revising vocabulary

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  • It is important to keep revising vocabulary through various activities that help students with the different aspects of words, including spelling, pronunciation and use.
  • It is important to check that the learners understand your instructions while setting vocabulary tasks.
  • There are many ways to practise vocabulary throughout our lessons – for example, in the warm-up with quick activities like using word cards, matching pictures and spelling games.
  • Keeping a vocabulary book or even making a word wall are great ways for students to take responsibility to keep practising until they ‘make words their own’!

Programme 15: Teaching speaking

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  • Creating an English-rich environment in the classroom is important for giving students the opportunity to practise speaking.
  • Quick and simple speaking activities can be set up in pairs and small groups.
  • A technique called ‘circle talk’ allows teachers to keep their students moving around talking to different partners.
  • A lively game like ‘20 questions’ gets everyone talking and practising key expressions – but make sure your instructions are very clear!
  • Link discussion and debate to the stories and themes in our textbooks and to the topics that really interest our students. 

Programme 16: Correcting errors in the classroom

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  • Errors are a natural part of the learning process and how we deal with them depends on whether we are focused on accuracy or fluency.
  • When we are presenting and practising new language, it’s important that all the students are using the correct model. The teacher will need to correct any mistakes during this phase.
  • When we are focused on fluency and wish to make students feel confident about expressing themselves, we don’t rush in to correct; we make a note and raise the problems later.
  • Making students aware of their mistakes so they can correct them themselves is a good technique. For example, there are lots of ways to correct spoken errors with a questioning tone, gestures or the board.
  • Encouraging peer correction – which happens naturally during group work – is a good way to help all the students be more responsible for their learning. They help each other to get it right!

Programme 17: Presenting and practising grammar

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  • One approach to teaching grammar is a three-step procedure often called PPP: the teacher ‘presents’ the language, then students ‘practise’ and finally ‘produce’ the language more freely.
  • By setting up a realistic context we can make the meaning of new grammar clear and memorable. You can use discussion, mime, pictures or a personal story.
  • Don’t start off with a set of grammar rules. Instead, focus on the language and encourage your students to suggest example sentences in a natural way.
  • When students are clear about the meaning, write key sentences on the board to point out the correct form.
  • In a large class a choral drill is helpful to get the pronunciation right and then students can move on to practising in pairs and groups. Later, teachers can introduce many activities to allow students to use the new grammar more freely.

Programme 18: Introducing writing activities

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  • Writing is an important part of the learning process as well as a skill that students may need for their future studies and employment.
  • We should build up our students’ confidence by moving step by step from simple sentences to paragraphs and to other formats such as letters.
  • Help students with examples, model sentences or beginnings of sentences.
  • Brainstorm and share ideas and put them on the board before you ask students to write. Create a context and a reason for writing as well as an audience.

Programme 19: Correcting written work

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  • While correcting errors is important, covering our students’ notebooks with red ink and corrections can affect their confidence.
  • Peer correction – students marking each other’s work with your guidance – can save time and make students more aware of their mistakes. Encourage students to use dictionaries during peer correction if appropriate.
  • Get students actively involved in spotting errors with activities like ‘sentence auction.’
  • Instead of writing in corrections, we can introduce a marking scheme, for example highlighting errors using symbols, such as ‘SP’ for spelling, ‘GR’ for grammar, ‘PREP’ for preposition, ‘P’ for punctuation and ‘WO’ for word order. This will help learners to think for themselves and become more aware of their mistakes. It’s important to agree these codes with your learners – perhaps they can suggest them!
  • We can sometimes focus on just one aspect of our students’ written work, such as only grammar or only spelling. That way they are not distracted by other possible errors and can concentrate on what you have selected – don’t forget that it’s important to let them know which area you have chosen.
  • Don’t forget to encourage your students by pointing out the things they have done well too.

Programme 20: Teaching pronunciation (1)

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  • Pronunciation involves rhythm, intonation and stress as well as the sounds of English.
  • Ensure that the students hear and practise pronunciation of new language as you go along. It is also useful listening practice to hear different accents of English, including foreign accents.
  • When we introduce new words and expressions we should ‘model’ the sounds and then get students to repeat them until they are confident. Using different drilling techniques can help with this.
  • To help distinguish between different sounds – particularly ones that are difficult because of our students’ first language – we can introduce ‘minimal pair’ activities. A minimal pair is two words with only one difference in sound such as ‘seat’ and ‘sheet’ or ‘wet’ and ‘vet’.

Programme 21: Teaching pronunciation (2)

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  • We need to give students as much listening practise as possible in and out of class. Songs, films, cartoons, the radio, recordings, etc. are a big help. Songs, poems and chants help reinforce the intonation and stress patterns of English.
  • We can best help students with their pronunciation by doing very short activities that focus on specific problems, for example using a minimal pair activity to help students differentiate between /i/ and /i:/ sounds.
  • We need to work on sounds that the learners find particularly difficult, perhaps because they don’t appear in their home language or mother tongue. This includes particular sounds like /v/ and /w/, words like sixth and school, and problems caused by English spelling.
  • It is useful to help students practise the intonation of different kinds of question forms.

Programme 22: Students working together

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  • To encourage our students to help each other, we need to get them working collaboratively, i.e. in pairs and groups, for at least some parts of each lesson.
  • Students enjoy thinking for themselves and making up their own sentences after you’ve taught them a new grammar point. Give them opportunities to work in groups so they can use what they have learned.
  • Even younger students can do a role play or make up their own stories – you need to create the right atmosphere and help them by pre-teaching key language.
  • Students at higher levels can be taught tools to be more independent, like keeping a record of new words, using the dictionary and helping each other by doing peer correction and peer reviewing.
  • Encourage independent reading. Get students to research an interesting topic before an activity in the textbook or develop it afterwards into a project.

Programme 23: Finding and using outside resources

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  • Find ways to bring the outside world of English into your classroom. Pictures, adverts and images from newspapers and magazines can be used in class for many simple activities.
  • At higher levels the topics covered in newspapers or magazines can stimulate discussion or be used for group reading and presentations to the class. It encourages students to be more independent.
  • Ask your students what they can access when they are at home and discuss how to use outside resources with your fellow teachers. You can even invite a guest speaker to come and answer questions in your school.
  • We can encourage students to listen to radio, watch TV programmes, films or cartoons and bring back their experience to the classroom later for group discussion or writing work.
  • We can use our mobile phones as a way to play audio in our classrooms. We can also use mobile phones to improve our own English and for our professional development.

Programme 24: Developing our teaching

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  • Keep up your own English practice. Read, write, listen and speak … and stay ‘one step ahead’ of the learners.
  • Help each other with friendly peer observation to reflect on and improve your classroom practice.
  • Get together with other teachers to share ideas, materials and problems.
  • Increase your regular contact with English – listening to the radio, watching TV, reading articles and getting together with other teachers to practise speaking are some ways you can do it. Don’t forget writing, such as keeping a diary or writing a blog in English.

See also