access sessions are combined with regular classes as an integral part of the delivery of English. At some bases in Afghanistan, delivery of English is wholly through guided self-access sessions. Completely independent use is restricted by factors including transportation (Ethiopia) and security concerns (Afghanistan) but is popular at bases where users are resident or live nearby.
The stakeholders Gardner (2001: 169) defines those involved with self-access as ‘self-access stakeholders’. In the cases of Ethiopia and Afghanistan, these stakeholders constitute quite a diverse group. The group includes the users themselves, the vast majority of whom are male (although in Ethiopia, the overall number of female military officers is growing, with impact on the number of female users). In Ethiopia, there are four to seven civilian teachers at each base with joint responsibility for self-access supported by military administration, all employed by the Ministry of National Defence and Security. In Afghanistan, each base has a civilian, British Council-employed LC co-ordinator working alongside military-appointed counterparts and one to three civilian teachers delivering classroom English. For the sake of clarity, all these groups are referred to in this chapter as teacher co-ordinators. In Ethiopia, stakeholders also include military appointed IT co-ordinators, who have a technical non-teaching role. In both countries, ultimate responsibility for SAC and LC operations is in the process of devolving to a further group of stakeholders: senior military personnel who will eventually have full responsibility for operations.
Why do self-access systems often fail? If many educational projects fail, self-access systems seem especially vulnerable. Anecdotal evidence suggests there are numerous situations in which they collapse soon after the departure of the funding organisation. Equipment and resources may be dispersed or put to inappropriate uses far different from those originally envisaged by the implementer. Possibly far more significant are the cases where the selfaccess centre survives in pristine condition but is barely used or not used at all. This chapter will suggest that self-access systems often fail because there is insufficient training for the stakeholders described above, those involved in self-access delivery and development. This is quite possibly because of an understandable, instinctive reaction by project management to focus on resources – bricks and mortar, computers, software, hardware and published materials. Project managers are often under considerable pressure to disburse budgets quickly, efficiently and sometimes to relatively unrealistic deadlines. A wellequipped centre provides tangible evidence to donors that the project is working and establishes visible, branded presence in sometimes far-flung regions of the country where the project is taking place. It may also represent to the recipient concrete evidence of the goodwill of the supporting organisation and in some countries (Djibouti, for example) corresponds to the traditional notions of the pre-eminence of the traditional language laboratory. However, when resources are prioritised, a primary concern for project management and senior levels of the recipient organisation is neglect. This is a very real concern
The house of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ |
Published on Aug 29, 2014
Published on Aug 29, 2014
The publication, edited by David Hayes offers global perspectives on the Continuing Professional Development (CPD) of English language teach...