MOOC will teach English

MOOC will teach English

FutureLearn and the British Council see India as a major market for MOOCs that teach English. Photo: Nic Walker

Tim Dodd

The UK-based FutureLearn will ­partner with the British Council, which already provides English language education, to pioneer MOOCs that teach the English language.

It is the first time that a major MOOC provider has announced plans to offer language courses. The two organisations said there would be a portfolio of English language courses ready in 2014 which would be focused on preparing ­students whose native language is not English for studying higher education courses taught in English.

The announcement was made in India, which FutureLearn and the ­British Council see as a major market for MOOCs that teach English. The two organisations said the MOOCs would also “provide a route for learners to take International English Language ­Testing System (IELTS) assessments at British Council testing centres”.

The British Council is a part-owner of the IELTS test, along with Australian company IDP Education, which ­operates a separate network of IELTS testing centres.

FutureLearn is owned by British education institution, The Open ­University, and has 29 partners which are mainly UK universities but also include the British Council and the ­British Museum.

Monash University is one of FutureLearn’s international ­partners.

The British Council is a non-profit organisation set up by Royal Charter to promote British culture and education internationally.

It is pitching English teaching MOOCs as a way of channelling ­international students to British ­universities.

“It is right that India should be one of the first places where we collectively launch the FutureLearn MOOC ­platform and courses,” said Martin Davidson, chief executive of the British Council. “FutureLearn will provide young Indians with another means of access to the UK’s world-class education ­institutions.”

In other news, the world’s leading MOOC provider, US-based Coursera, has raised $US20 million ($21.8 million) more than expected in its latest capital raising.

According to All Things D , Coursera’s $US43 million capital raising announced in July this year has expanded to $US63 million.

Three unnamed universities are responsible for most of the extra investment. Coursera has now totalled $US85 million in capital from investors.

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INDIA – Those who speak English fluently earn up to 34% more than others

Those who speak English fluently earn up to 34% more than others

According to the report, only 20% of Indian population can speak in English, and only 4% would be considered fluent, in the language.
NEW DELHI: Those who speak English fluently earn up to 34% more than those who don’t speak the language, a recent report has found, confirming the link between an education in English and the scope of employment opportunities

But given the constraints of cost and access, the number of those studying in English medium is yet to pick up. Less than 25% of students of higher education are studying in English medium in the north central region of India, including Bihar and UP, compared to around 75% in south India.

Higher education in Indian languages costs between Rs 1,200 and Rs 3, 000 a year, while English medium costs 6-8 times more, between Rs 8,000 and 15,000 a year. But the investment is seen as worthwhile since education in English is likely to to yield higher wages, says the report authored by Dr Abusaleh Shariff of the Centre for Research and Debates in Development Policy, New Delhi and Amit Sharma, research analyst with the National Council for Applied Economic Research.

“Men who speak English fluently earn wages about 34% higher and men who speak a little English earn wages about 13% higher than those who don’t speak any English,” the report said.

According to the report, only 20% of the Indian population can speak in English, and only 4% would be considered fluent. Where one lives is a key determinant in accessing English medium education, it found.

Politicians who don’t like English are captains of a sinking ship. Higher education in English helps us get better integrated into the globalized organized sector and labour market. Those without access to higher education in English are being left out,” Dr Shariff told TOI.