In September 2016, FEA started its spoken English course for about 20 young cyclists, who had come from all around India, to coach and prepare for 2020 Olympics. At FEA, we call them, ‘Future Olympians’.

Every Saturday and Sunday one of FEA staff goes to the Indira Gandhi International stadium and teach them English using the FEA program. These are 14 -18 year old students who have been identified and selected from Andaman & Nicobar, Jammu & Kashmir, Sikkim, Manipur and other parts of India to be groomed and trained to compete in 2020 Olympics to be held in Japan. These students reside in the hostel of the Indira Gandhi Sports stadium, train for 4 hours in the morning, then go to a regular school and train for two hours after school. Having studied in rural schools. none of the students could speak English and were finding it difficult yo cope with schooling and life in Delhi. So FEA classes are held between 10:00 am- 1:00 pm on the weekends given their gruelling school and practice schedule. They are super naughty, a bit stubborn, hyper active and eager to learn something new. Their early morning practice leaves them tired, still when they enter the class their faces light up at the thought of mischief and tricking the teacher.

photo copy

In November it was my birthday. Every year, the birthday comes and it goes. However, sometimes the people around us makes it so special that its memories are etched in our souls for years to come.

On my birthday I was showered with blessings, calls, messages, Facebook posts and so on. Still I was missing home and had to hold back my tears time and again. When I went to teach the Olympians, things struck me as odd. All the cyclists were already in conference room where the classes are held (usually their trickle in slowly after the class begins). All students were grinning from ear to ear with mischief in their eyes. As I opened the door, I was greeted with a chorus of “Happy Birthday ….”by the 23 Future Olympians, their Senior Coach Amar Singh (International cycling Coach, Arjuna awardee) and other coaches of the Cycling Federation of India. There were ribbons and balloons, bouquet, tea, biscuits, juice and of course in the middle of the room, on the table a big birthday cake.  I was overwhelmed with emotions, too stunned to do or say anything.

I consider it my good fortune to get honor, respect and love from these students, who practice from 5:30 in the morning irrespective of weather, fatigue and sickness and go to bed only after midnight.  They go to a regular school, where many of them are struggling due to their inability to communicate in English. After the celebration, I went to thank Coach Amar Singh and modestly said, “Sir, there was really no need for this. Your blessings were more than enough….”  He responded with, “I have seen these kids evolve from indisciplined teenagers to dedicated youngsters, in a short span of few months. They have learnt team work and a common language to communicate. It makes them less home sick and bond better with each other. All credit goes to FEA.” I felt pride and humility simultaneously.

These same students all under the age of 17 have set 3 new national records in their cycling meet in December 2016. As I celebrate their accomplishment, I realize what we do for our students, is so little compared to what they give us in return.

Aditi Bisht

Coach (Music-based Learning)

There is a very simple formula if you are not able to do something. Start to pretend that you can and that you are doing well. Soon it will become real and you will enjoy it. If you have fear of speaking in public, just pretend that you have no such fears and that you enjoy public speaking. After some time it will be real. If you feel hesitant, just behave as if you are confident and, believe me, very soon you will not be hesitant. Once you have the initial confidence that is necessary to believe that you can do it, you work to get better at whatever it is that you are faking.

Blog Image

Photo Courtesy -

Let me give you a real life example -

There was a boy who was very shy and could not talk in presence of other people. He liked to stay alone and whenever he had to hold conversation with others, he shivered and stammered. Then, he joined Freedom English Academy (FEA) in March 2015 as a student. F.E.A was a life changing platform for him. He was learning not only English but also how to behave for success. He was taught to become a self-motivated person. He soon began to fight with his fears. In the beginning, he spoke in front of others shaking and shivering, but pretending that he was doing fine. With regular participation and practice his fears began to fade away.

The boy who could not speak in presence of another person, now speaks confidently in front of many people, everyday.

I thank my facilitator,

Who boarded me in elevator.

The elevator of success,

Where I had all the access

To all that was not weak.

So I started to speak.

I am still in the elevator.

And now I am also a facilitator.

And yes, that boy is me.

Remember faking is the first step that gets you in. It must built upon it, with effort and introspection, for fake to become and stay real.

Deepak Verma


FEA Kheriya Mor (Agra)


Life. Life has its way to twist and turn things. It also has its way of making sense. Every unexpected turn that we have to take is almost like a leap of faith, we take it with fear and hope. There are 99 reasons to not do something and yet sometimes just 1 reason is enough to overpower the rest. That is how my journey with FEA began. It began with the thought, “maybe not.” But I gave it a shot, and it changed me. It made me better and it still continues to do so.

When I joined the induction training, I did not know what I would come across or what I would learn. I was blank. When it started, what I experienced was completely unexpected, everything was a realization or a revelation. I had never learnt with a smile or laughter before!!

The little things in life that we take for granted are the ones which can make a huge difference. In our training. Observation of these invisible entities can bring great change, and every day I try to look for these ‘little’ things in my centre, students, and surroundings.

During my first centre visit, it was all good but I was unsure if I wanted to do the job. I thought I would decide after the training. On my second centre visit things had changed, I was not questioning the job or the work anymore. I was questioning myself – was I good enough for the job? It was something I had not seen in my entire life, or experienced – learning that is beautiful, fun and progressive. It was all at once and could seem nothing at first, because it was not about teaching others or developing others…it was about nurturing everyone. It was not just about the students, it was about me too… students are not the only ones growing and learning but I am growing too, I am learning too.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

As a facilitator, there is a lot to learn – processed, methodologies from my seniors. There are things that I learn during my sessions, with the students sitting in front of me, some eager to ask questions and others who are shy. When I read their expressions and mould my ways according to their understanding, I learn about people, about their understanding and about their problems. I feel happy when they smile and nostalgic about my school days when they are enthusiastic and mischievous. And every time I see them progressing, it feels like it’s my progress. It is my progress.

The mission of Freedom English Academy has really touched my heart. The goal to create a thought process that is independent; that thinks for building a better future; that is not a blind follower but an active thinker, is a very noble objective and I’m pleased to be a part of it.

My journey with FEA, as a trainee and as a facilitator, has been highly unexpected. It has been wonderful and every tiny experience took me by surprise. It has proved that unexpected events are not always bad, in fact they can change your life for the better. I was able to do things which I I never dreamed myself capable of. The journey continues.

If we are not improving, then we are not really going anywhere. We are standing at the same place, hoping for the destination to come to us, which is quite a far-fetched idea. FEA brings out the best in people – students or staff. It is trying to break the old system of teaching – students are just blank papers that teachers have to fill with knowledge. AT FEA, we believe that students have thinking brains, they just need to be motivated to think, to unleash their power of knowledge.

FEA has been that source of learning for me.


Sonia Gosain


FEA, Pul Prahladpur

To be an inspiration to others, first, one should be self- inspired. If one cannot inspire oneself it will be hard to inspire others.

Sometimes life takes U-turn to test our patience, test our motivational skills and it also create situations in which we can’t find out ways to rescue ourselves, but it provides us enough opportunities to beat our defeat and start once again, with great power and determination.

Given the relationship we share with our students, FEA facilitators are privileged to have opportunity to touch lives in a very significant way.

In July, 2015, I underwent surgery and so when I reached the centre the next day, I had evident stitches. A fortnight later, my student, Amar Mandal walked in with a bandage around his head. He had met with an accident on his bicycle and came directly from the hospital with 4 stitches on his forehead, to attend the class.  He was inspired by me and we  were all inspired by him.

Blog 1

Inspiration was flowing deep and swift in my center. In August, 2015, I started the Library Program in my center, my students and I had to read together for an hour every week. On one such day, my student Neeraj Kumar came to the center along with the cover page of a book and said that: “Ma’am, I have started writing a book and this is the cover page of that book. I would like to dedicate this book to FEA, as it is  providing free Library to us and developing habit of reading and our thinking skills.”

Blog 2
He was inspired and, once again, we were inspired. We are now eagerly awaiting the completion of the book that Neeraj has been writing to be inspired by his effort and grateful heart.



Govindpuri Center)

Reading good books is a difficult but life-transforming habit.

It was my first day in FEA Centre on March 9, 2015 after completing the Induction training. This was before Power Hour was initiated and I was ignorant about the library program. One day I have received an email about my library training. I got trained and was very excited and expectant about the program.  I passed on my excitement to my students as well but there was no sign of library books.

Every day, my students would ask when they would get the books that they were itching to read.  Unconvincingly, I would say, “Very soon”.

On the day of every Consolidation we used to discuss importance of reading, how to take care of books and the books we like/would like to read.

Source - Unknown

Source – Unknown

Finally, we received our library books. On the first day itself, students reserved their books for next 3 weeks. Most of the students read one who book before the week was over. That week we had a real book discussion session.

There were a few students who were reluctant to read. I did not force them. For the following book discussion, I planned a new and interesting strategy. I asked the students to deliver their favorite dialogs or parts from their books, using correct renunciation and intonation.  This engaged both the active and reluctant readers. I encouraged them to read the pictorial and simple Cherry Tree (by Ruskin Bond). They found it very interesting.

After conducting a successful BD, we were on a roll. I asked students for ideas to make it more effective. It was agreed that we will make half an hour for reading every day. When most students were able to make it a habit. Now it was time to engage with the parents as active partners in students’ learning.

On the day of PTI, I discussed the power of reading with the parents seeking their support so that the students can make the time and develop the habit of reading. Parents and students started conducting BD at home with students sharing their reading with their parents before going to bed. Every subsequent PTI parents were encouraged to share their experience. One of my student’s mother shared how earlier the conversation at home was predominantly about the daily soaps and how it had changed to discussion about books and stories.

Every book discussion was planned differently and creatively. By the time they appeared for E5 evaluation, all the students had read 3-4 novels and  cleared their E5 successfully in the first attempt. On February 29, 2016 it was their last PTI of my students – it was a certificate distribution ceremony. Parents were very proud and happy. They took a pledge along with their wards that they would start gifting books to their wards, relatives and friends on their birthdays and will advise others to do so to.

We choose our attitude towards people and situations. Either we can fix the problem or the blame. Introspectively, the delay in arrival of the books to our centre was a blessing in disguise as it gave us time to talk and get enthused about books.


Shaheen Shekh




This is the story of a simple boy from the outskirts of East Delhi. He belonged to a poor family and was a first-generation school student of grade 9.

One day he was in a hospital and a hurried stranger asked him for the way to go out (as he needed to purchase some medication for an ailing wife admitted in the hospital). The boy looked out for “Exit” sign and guided him. Later, in the afternoon, the same man searched for the boy to thank him profusely for his help.

The boy realized the importance of English and decided to learn it.

Back then, he had only one person to turn to – his English teacher in school. When approached with the request, the teacher replied, “Go away! You can never learn English, it’s not your cup of tea. I’m not your father’s servant.”

Dawn of resolution suddenly changed to the dusk of disappointment in no time. The debris of his hope were scattered all over the next few days as he mulled over other possibilities. At home he found a nursery rhyme book lying in a corner covered with dust. He understood most of the things. He realized that he can learn from English textbooks of primary grades and scoured his younger siblings books. Now he was learning new words but there was no one to practice or speak with. He would go to the terrace of his house every night and poured out his heart’s content in the form of soliloquy to the moon and stars. For six years, he practiced incessantly but something was amiss. 

Photo Courtesy -

Courtesy –

One day, he found Free English Academy (FEA) in his area. With a doubtful head, “Why would anyone offer these classes for free?” and a hopeful heart, “Now I will be able to speak in English”, he went in. Simple as it was, he took admission and started going to FEA daily.  He diligently followed the two golden rules – speak only in English and speak in full sentences. This place was the answer to all his prayers – an English-Only environment that  he hankered after. And the Facilitator turned out to be a better listener than the moon and stars.

With regular attendance and participation, hesitation bid goodbye and confidence became his new companion. Meanwhile, in his college, he was selected to deliver a speech in ISC (Indian Science Congress) 100th Annual Conference. The Indian prime minister was to attend this. All the presentations in FEA, gave him “I can do this’ confidence.

With diligent preparation, everything went smoothly on the day of his speech. The audience clapped and gave him a standing ovation. His three-minute speech was hailed as the best speech ever from the college.

It all happened because of FEA.

Now the young protagonist is a Student Evaluator in FEA and very pleased to share his journey through this blog.

Prakash Verma

Student Evaluator


It was July 2013, when I went for an interview to FEA office in Vasant Vihar. I was impressed with easy tone and temper of the recruiter. After the interview, I was very expectant and hopeful. When the anticipated phone call came through,  I was found not ready for the job and recommended to the Training Academy so that I could polish my language before being assigned a position.

The Training Academy threw a series of revelations and realisations. There were some words that I repeatedly mispronounced and the organisation was keen that I correct those sounds before I can be entrusted to lead, guide and teach the students. For instance, I struggled with ‘zoo’ and ‘preposition’. My sounds were clearly all over the place. I was struggling with my facilitation skills as well. Within a few days, I nearly convinced myself that this was not my cup of tea and decided to quit. While I had given up on myself, the organization had not.

My trainer made me understand that FAIL means “first attempt in learning” and it is not the end. In fact END means “efforts never dies” and if I received NO for an answer, it means “next opportunity”. It made me optimistic and hopeful.


 Photo Courtesy-

After successful completion of my training, I went for induction. I was rejected and asked to work on my facilitation skills. But I did not give up this time and was called for induction again. Having learnt from my past mistakes, I got selected and was assigned Freedom English Academy at Wazirpur Industrial Area (110052A).

The road to the center was covered in industrial ash. It meandered like a snake across the landscape, dotted with factories on both sides. At the end of this path, stood my center. With the help of gloomy looking factory workers, I was able to locate it. My center was a dim lit room with one window and witnessed regular power cuts. The students were the proverbial silver lining, beaming bright in the dark. That was all that I wanted. My reward for the perseverance and efforts was their smiling faces and confidence while conversing in English.

A few months later, I was given a new responsibility – Field Support Trainer – to guide and support facilitators. Initially, it was a struggle. Earlier I had to take care of only one center and 90 students who were keen to learn from me; now I had 28 centers and 56 facilitators who were reluctant or resistive to my guidance.

I did not give up and realised that because they were distinct individuals, they have different needs and strengths. That made me individualise my attention and focus to make my support more relevant for them. Within a few weeks, I started enjoying my job. This made me more flexible and responsive to the needs of the facilitator and made me polish my tools and enrich my repertoire. I was able to work consciously to fix my grammatical errors and pronunciation.

I am determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I encounter.  For me -“Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to wait for; it is a thing to be achieved.”


Amit Sharan

Field Support Trainer

The days were turning mundane and I was definitely itching for a switch, but there didn’t seem any opportunity worth pursuing. And then it came…..suddenly!

On August 13 last year, my first day as a facilitator, I was welcomed with anger, dissatisfaction and tears. The students were certainly not to pleased to see me replace their old facilitator. I felt was dreadful!  But I stood firmly facing the the 59 students students, driven only by my passion for turning impossible into possible. I had to keep the faith – theirs and mine.

Every time I began to become complacent or complaining, my students snapped me out of my stupor. Rain, hail or cold winds, most students would turn up early in the morning; housewives and young mothers would leave their babies to their neighbor’s house; girls would fight with their orthodox families- all to learn from me.  When I heard about the obstacles they were overcoming to learn English, I began to reflect on my own life. In comparison to my students, I had more riches, they had more resilience and perseverance. I taught them English, they taught me positive outlook.


During the days of my rich experience as a facilitator, life of one particular student was my lighthouse of self-motivation and perseverance.

The student, let’s call her Anu, has graduated from Freedom English Academy(FEA) now. Her  father was an Army officer, but under the influence of his friends took early retirement to devote his life to worship. Since money was short, he stopped his children from pursuing education and forced them to follow in his footsteps of devotion to a godman. But Anu didn’t give up. She continued her studies on the sly. She would always hide her books and pursued the medical stream. She joined FEA one and half year ago and came regularly without disclosing it to her father. She saved her money by not shopping and not recharging her phone. The money she saved was used to commute to the center that was about 4 kms away from her house. Often, I offered her help, but her response was a very confident, “No Ma’am. I have made this choice so I have to pay for it.” It left me both, speechless and inspired.

Anu cleared entrance examination for B.H.M.S. without informing her father. By that time, I was promoted as Compliance Supervisor and was about to leave the center. I was not sure how she would respond to the news. Inevitably, I shared the news with her and  saw despair in her eyes. I made her realize the importance of her goals and jogged her down the memory lane to her first day in the center. She seemed upbeat and had resolved to continue when Ileft.

On day, I received a call form Anu informing me that she would not be able to come for 2 weeks as her father had passed away.  Promptly, after 2 weeks she returned with a smile and asked for her workbook to complete the lessons that she had missed. I was present at center on that day and her behavior amazed me. She didn’t expect sympathy but was focused completely on the lessons she had missed.

No amount of wealth or money could have taught me what Anu did!

On that day, my lesson in self-motivation and courage was complete…temporarily, at least.

Pallak Gautam

Compliance Supervisor

Doubts stop countless beings from transforming their powerful thoughts into significant actions. For those who banish their doubts and fears, a treasure trove of wonderful experiences is in store for them.

It is rightly said that life will be much better if we stop stressing out the things that are beyond our control and start doing something about the things that are.

The students of Ganesh Nagar exemplified this showing how our life does not get better by chance. It gets better by change.

The objective

We always talk about that we should throw garbage into dustbin not on the roads. But the problem is people don’t have dustbins on the roads. So my students and I decided to do something regarding this issue.

Change-makers at Ganesh Nagar

Change-makers at Ganesh Nagar

Day 1

We prepared posters and a funding box to collect some funds from nearby residents and shop keepers. Each one of them contributed happily, because they all needed dustbins on roads. I assigned the task of looking out for some places where we can put the dustbins. We identified few open areas where garbage was disposed off and spoke to the  residents who can take the responsibility of dustbins so that dustbins don’t get stolen.

Day 2

There after, we purchased 10 dustbins from market at reduced prices. We painted them green, wrote some quotes on them and FEA on them, so that all dustbins look uniform. By the end of Day 2, our dustbins were ready for installations.

Day 3

It was a most important day. We finalized some places after brief discussion with students who had already surveyed the area and identified spots where these bins could be installed. We spoke with shopkeepers and residents in the vicinity to take care of the bins.  They were very happy by this move and assured us that they will take responsibility and keep dustbin inside a shop at night and bring it out in the morning.

Everyday my students check on the dustbins, educate all to use it and the community around appreciates their effort.

Martin Luther King Jr. rightly said, “Occasionally in life there are those moments of unutterable fulfillment which cannot be completely explained by those symbols called words. Their meanings can only be articulated by the inaudible language of the heart.”

This was one such moment in my life.


Anjum Shakir   (Facilitator of  Ganesh Nagar center)                                                                                                                                                                 


Avishek Singh  (Curriculum Manager)


As I was walking through the overflowing streets of Sangam Vihar, one of the most poorly maintained parts of the city, I heard someone calling my name aloud. I ignored and kept walking towards the bus stop. I heard the voice again. This time it was louder. I stopped and turned back, only to find a young boy in his early teens, dressed in a government school uniform and waving his hands ecstatically. He rushed to shake hands and greet me. He told me that he saw me taking a session at the Tughlakabad center. I was surprised as I generally visit a center only once a month. I noticed that he was trying to hold the conversation in English. On my way to the bus stop, I kept smiling ceaselessly.

Barely a few months ago, I was having the time of my life as a facilitator at the Tehkhand center when I was given the responsibility to support other facilitators. At first I thought that life as a Field Support Trainer would not be as fun as it was as a facilitator. It turned out to be even better.

There have been so many unforgettable moments filled with immense joy that I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Earlier I had eighty odd students, now I have more than thousand students to interact with, every month. Most of them recognize me by face and some of them can even recall my name. Some of them look forward to meet me every month and are prepared with questions, riddles and puzzles. They try to outdo me and I in return always leave them with something to think about. We share a very special bond that keeps strengthening with every smile shared. It is their smiles which keeps me going on a hot and humid day.

Source –

Supporting and training facilitators has been fun too. I am delighted that most of the facilitators I support are extremely creative and open minded. Each one of them, with their distinct style of facilitation and unique perspective, makes our program richer and holistic. They welcome my feedback and try their best to implement them. Their humility amazes me. It has also been a great learning opportunity for me as training people ensures that I too fix my own grammatical and pronunciation errors.

Interacting with such a diverse group of people has changed me as a person. I have begun to listen and respect other’s perspective more empathetically. Also, I have realized how futile egos and prejudices are and how deeply they can impact work. I now believe that if we really want to solve issues that engulf us, then we must learn to rise above our egos and get things done.

When I started my journey, I had no idea that I would come so far. On the way, I did face some challenges, both physical as well as emotional. I struggled to travel around due to severe backaches. Also, it was very challenging to communicate ideas, set expectations, reflect sessions, train people and interact with students, all in a single visit. However, I was able to overcome them by the affection and support of people who make the FEA family. The space they provided me played an important part in my growth. And the experience changed my own perspective about growth. Growth, as I now see, is not a vertical phenomenon but a horizontal one. My approach towards growth and work has become more holistic.

Words can express experiences, only partially. Suffice to say that it has been quite a ride so far and I am gearing up for more.


Ashutosh Ratnakar

Field Support Trainer