Impact on implementation and effectiveness of systems and procedures However, what stakeholders say they do may well be different from what they actually do in practice. In Ethiopia, I was able to visit SACs at military bases, often at locations up to 1,300 km from the capital for extended periods. In Afghanistan, although all LCs are located in the capital, regular monitoring is more problematic due to a rapidly changing security situation but it does take place whenever possible. In both countries, visits were essential to identify the extent to which change was happening and systems were being monitored. In Ethiopia, some scepticism had initially been expressed as to the value of processes for analysing needs and obtaining learner feedback. Teacher co-ordinators reasoned that, after all, they chatted to individual students during the break and if students had problems, they would surely approach the teacher to discuss them. It took time for stakeholders to appreciate the importance of systematic feedback and additional sessions were required to help teacher co-ordinators to analyse the data they were collecting. This data was often very interesting. Feedback clearly showed that while learners valued grammatical input, they also emphasised that input and practice to help them develop skills, vocabulary and pronunciation were really welcome. This contradicted the teachers’ reasoning that because students only wanted grammar, they would therefore only give them grammar and they were consequently encouraged to reconsider the focus of their teaching. Learners articulated a desire for variety and downgraded teaching that was wholly coursebook-dependent and, again, this came as a surprise to some teachers. There was also a progression across levels as more experienced learners reduced their preference for individual work and expressed preferences for more interactive activities. Data of this type reinforced the message teacher co-ordinators were receiving from elsewhere and helped them to continue to revise their own thinking. A shift from lockstep sessions to ones in which users worked more independently was observed in Ethiopia and is also currently taking place in Afghanistan. This shift needs time to take place and in Ethiopia required extensive follow up to the original CPD. However, the SAC log system (see Appendix 2) worked effectively once personnel had developed commitment to it and some helpful, supportive counselling was observed. Trainees had clearly understood the need for learner involvement in the process, the use of questioning and the need for agreement: ■■
‘We need to begin the counselling warmly and be polite and smile and use the right kind of body language. We need to be encouraging and democratic, and exchange not impose or be dictatorial but we also need to be realistic.’ (Ethiopian participant)
Observations showed that teachers co-ordinators applied their own guidelines in the counselling and were clearly deriving satisfaction from developing their counselling skills.
| 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...