TeachingEnglish Radio India

TeachingEnglish Radio India is a series of twelve fifteen minute audio programmes providing advice and training on learner-centred teaching of English at a basic level. It is aimed at teachers of English working in schools in India with large classes, a lack of resources and few training opportunities.

The twelve programmes focus on developing specific learner-centred teaching approaches that Indian primary and secondary school teachers can use in their classrooms, as recommended by the National Curriculum Framework 2005 .

The programmes are accompanied by a workbook available in the 'Downloads' section below. The workbook and the audio programmes are designed to be used as self access by individual teachers, or by teacher educators with small groups.

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.