If you had come to the British Council in Chennai in May you would have seen a library full of kids looking nervous, holding their notebooks in one hand and gripping their parents’ hands tightly in the other.

As they were directed to their classrooms by the smiling teaching assistants, you could see them shaking, uncertain, but excited too. The parents looked equally concerned, not sure what they had got their child in to. It was a new experience for everyone, including the teachers!

When the first lessons started, the classrooms were quiet, with nervous and curious glances being thrown around the room. The children were a bit more comfortable after the first 15 minutes. Within the first hour, they had made friends, were smiling and were completely involved in the activities.

The parents meanwhile, were sitting outside, peering into the rooms almost like an audience. They were looking into the classrooms watching their children talking, laughing, walking around and playing. They couldn’t understand what was going on! After a few lessons they began to relax and the audience got smaller and smaller.

We had to create our own courses for the summer programme as the children here have a high level of English, even the 8-10 year olds. It was a lot of work but it was all made worthwhile by the reaction of the students and the teachers. The children were so enthusiastic and took so much pleasure in the course.

The project based courses had an environmental theme running through all the lessons. They included lessons on eco-friendly houses, saving rainforests and endangered species, as well as some fun lessons on dinosaurs, superheroes and board games. There was a video element, where students watched parts of a video every alternate lesson or so and did some tasks based on that episode. The kids enjoyed this thoroughly as it was not something they expected to do in a class. They were having fun and at the same time improving their listening and comprehension skills and their vocabulary. They also worked on some class projects including a magazine and a performance. The performances were presented to the parents on the final day of the course.

This ‘Summer Concert’ was a major event. All the classes performed for their parents with plays, songs, news reports, a quiz and some talk shows. There were prizes for students and there was even a raffle. The event was a huge hit! Parents were thrilled to see their children perform in front of an audience, in English, with material they had prepared themselves. Students were excited to be performing and put a lot of hard work into preparing their scripts, songs, costumes, masks and props. Teachers watched with pride as their classes went out on stage, confidently.

It was the first time we had run young learner classes at the British Council in Chennai and it was the first time some of the teachers had taught this age group. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the experience and we were all sad when we had to say goodbye to our classes at the end of the course. We are hoping to run regular young learner courses here as the demand is very high and the teachers have demonstrated a real flair for teaching the little people.

Seetha Venunathan is an English language trainer at the British Council teaching centre in Chennai, India.. To find out more about learning English at our centres in India, visit www.britishcouncil.org/india-english-elt.htm

Comments

Total 11 Comments Add your comment

V Ayyappan

Posted on June 8th, 2010 Report abuse

Its great to hear that British Council had a course to teach English to children. I have heard about courses on English for adults also. But, I feel that the Council should not hold these classes inside the British Council premises which is leased (i think that is the case) out to the council to run a library. So, is it proper to collect fees and run a commercial education course inside a campus that is meant to be used for library? Ideally, – as fee is collected from students – such courses should be held elsewhere and the space occupied by classrooms should be used for library purpose.

admin

Posted on June 13th, 2010 Report abuse

The Teaching Centre in Chennai was opened following consultation with all relevant stakeholders in Chennai and is within the scope of our existing operational agreements. We are delighted that our investments in our Chennai premises have enabled us to continue to offer our library services alongside our English classes, which have already engaged 3000 students seeking to improve their language skills. We are always keen to receive feedback on how we might further enhance our Library and other services.

Haley

Posted on December 17th, 2010 Report abuse

I’d like to hear more about the use of video in the classroom with these youngsters. I teach online and also do seminars and I have been playing with video in my lessons. I’m trying to develop the most effective way for students to learn English as I believe that as a teacher, it’s my responsibility to assure that all of my students are keeping up and retaining the information being presented.

Naveen K

Posted on December 22nd, 2010 Report abuse

Given the fact, English becoming so important in every walks of life. Courses like these will pave the way for very strong base in English Language. I feel these type of courses applies for all kinds of people who love and has interest in English.

Name*prem.s

Posted on November 1st, 2011 Report abuse

thanks to british councilling.but one british counciling more then one branch of chennai.. i am living perambut chennai I have interested learning but no branch perambur.so pls branch open to all city area .my ambal request.

Lydia

Posted on May 4th, 2012 Report abuse

It would be lovely to have a branch of the British Council at Pondicherry for there are people like me who closely keep following the events but unfortunately owing to the distance involved ,our kids are left far behind.Our kids’ English language communication skills would definitely have a boost if a branch is opened here.There is a huge potential waiting to be tapped in this part of the country.Probably the British Council may atleast think of starting summer activities for kids lasting for a week to begin with, sometime next year and may be based on the response , you can decide further.
Thank you very much for your kind attention.

Name*kanimozhi

Posted on June 28th, 2012 Report abuse

iam really very glad that british council has started summer classes for kids but it will be greatful if u start regular classes for kids might be in the weekends so that it will pave strong base in english for the children.

siva

Posted on December 3rd, 2013 Report abuse

Is there any weekend(saturday) classes in British Council??

The Editor

Posted on December 3rd, 2013 Report abuse

@siva, as our schedules vary from country to country, it’s best to contact your local office. You will find contact details via http://www.britishcouncil.org (drop-down menu next to the map). Let me know if you need further help finding those details.

Name*B.THIRUVASAGAMANI

Posted on February 6th, 2014 Report abuse

I am very much attracted towards this young students english learning programme which could give them a lot meaningful development in their life. I want to know this year April/May2014 programme for young learners in English so that I can ask my daughter T.Ponkamalam to join the programme.

NameB.Thiruvasagamani

Posted on February 6th, 2014 Report abuse

WONDERFUL PROGRAMME FOR YOUNG STUDENTS