Category Archives: English for Progress Policy Dialogue

Keeping the discussion going

It’s Friday evening and the face to face conference is over. It was a fantastic two days!

Thank you to all of you who have posted and commented on this blog – the discussion has been stimulating, wide ranging and engaging. We want to keep the discussion going over the next few weeks, so we’ll be keeping the blog open. Many of the speakers will be checking the posts about their sessions, so a good oportunity to connect with them via comments. You can also comment directly on the recorded sessions on the same page where you view them, and read others’ comments. We’ll also be uploading more photos and interviews, so keep an eye on YouTube and Picassa.

www.britishcouncil.org.in/EfPonline

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The Role of English in Conflict Transformation

Gill Westaway, Director, British Council Sri Lanka, and Duncan Wilson, Head Project English, British Council Sri Lanka, presented the STEPS (Skills Through English for Public Servants) project which has been implemented in Sri Lanka.  The project was completed in partnership with GTZ (an NGO), and Psyche Kennet was cited as the main contributor to the materials development. 

Gill told us how according to the UNHCR, the number of people affected by conflict is now at all time high.  Gill explained how educational programmes can contribute to conflict transformation, starting from the empowerment of different communities and marginalised groups through a fair selection process and even grouping of candidates on training programmes.  The role of English as a link language is also obvious in countries such as Sri Lanka where the national languages of Sinhala and Tamil have become social and ethnic dividers. 

We saw how a task-based language learning approach also supports conflict transformation in that it encourages sub-skills of critical thinking, skills which mirror the principles of conflict resolution.  Duncan showed us how the classroom materials they use on the STEPS project integrate language learning with the content element of conflict resolution, as well as the interactional skills of negotiating, debating, coming to a consensus, etc, skills which are of obvious use in conflict resolution. 

 This has been a very successful project, the principles of which could in theory be replicated in other areas which are experiencing similar conflicts.

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Activity Based Learning

In this session entitled ‘Managing the Silent Revolution’ the audience watched a video which showed how Activity Based Learning (ABL) has been implemented in schools in Tamil Nadu.  We saw the teacher in a non-traditional role, not as the teacher standing as an authoritative figure at the front of the classroom, but as a facilitator of activities in which children were able to participate much more freely.  Children were encouraged to work in groups and help each other, as well as monitor their own progress.  The classroom scene was a refreshing change from visions of children sitting in rows listening to a teacher; here the role of the child is very much a participative one in which confidence and motivation are key to the learning process.

The film was a great start to the session on ABL, and will truly motivate teachers in other areas to learn from this project.

How could other schools implement ABL?

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The Future of EL education: Methodological Choices

Panel: Mr. HH Ariyadasa, Mr. David Graddol, Prof. Ajit K. Mohanty

In this main stage discussion some interesting points were raised. Let us know your thoughts and views on these issues. 

1. Advocating a shift away from rote memorisation.

2. English has to be embedded into multi-lingual school education.

3. In their current state, English medium schools are not the solution, and may actually cause failure in the educational system.

4.  (A student asks) Isn’t learning four langauges a waste of time? Why don’t we learn science instead?

5.  Moving English down to class 1 exposes the educational system at its weakest, most vulnerable point.

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Where should Teacher Educators come from?

In the parallel session, ‘In-service and Pre-service English Language Teacher Education’, the room split into two groups to discuss the best way forward for in-service and pre-service teacher education.

One recomendation that came out was that Teacher Educators should come from schools and not from institutes or universities. They should be good teachers with a lot of practical experience and not traditional academics with doctorate degrees. What do you think?

Who is going to select these teachers? How to select them?
Should teachers be allowed to nominate themselves?
How do we replace the good teachers who we take out to become teacher educators?
Your comments please.

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Continuous Professsional Development

A brief outline of the issues covered by the two eminent speakers:

Krishna Dixit

At present there is no CPD policy in India,  clearly a neglected area.

      Why CPD?

1.  Inadequate education

2.  Facilitate change

3.  Help teachers to prosper in ELT

How to motivate teachers ? How can the system help teachers embark on this lifelong journey?

Rod Bolitho: the notion of developement must come from within the individual.

‘continuous’  requires constant reinvention. 

‘professional’ teaching as a real profession to be taken seriously. Teachers are typically challenged more than other professions .

‘development’ self-directed change and progress in individuals and institutions.

Echoing and touching upon what Dr. Martin Wedell “If the exams don’t change, nothing changes”.

We need a policy for a financial support as at the moment it operates on a ‘goodwill basis’.

‘Change Forces’ change is mandatory, but growth is optional.

So… as a teacher are you a hedgehog, a dinosaur or a chameleon?

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Continuous Professional Development in the ELT sector

Rod Bolitho, Academic Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), tells us that the teaching profession is not a static profession and as such, teachers need to continually develop.  

He also reminds us that development can only come from within an individual – teachers cannot be forced to develop, but they can be exposed to development opportunities. 

Rod goes on to say that INSETT (in-service teacher training) and CPD (continuous professional development) are not synonymous.  Teacher training is one route that teachers can take to help themselves develop, but there are other ways, such as gaining new qualifications, becoming involved in projects and materials development, mentoring and buddy systems, membership of teaching associations, classroom observations and feedback and autonomous research. 

How do your schools and institutes ensure that teachers have access to the latest skills and knowledge in the ELT sector?  How is their learning recognised and rewarded?

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How many years of pre-service training?

Prof.  Siddiqui, Chair of the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE)talked about the development of new curriculum framework for teacher education in India that he hopes will be implemented nation wide over the next 3 to 4 years.
He says pre-service, in-service and professsional development of teachers must be considered as a continuum of teacher education.
He says there has been a shift towards a more constructivist approach to learning. He recognises a need to enhance language competence and a need to give space for teachers to become reflective practitioners.
Professor Siddiqui recommends a 2 years post graduation teacher training programme, or 4- 5 years for school leavers (after plus 2).
How many years pre-service training do you think teachers need?

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