administration meant the cycle of change had to be begun again. In Afghanistan, CPD began in early 2013 and will continue for at least another year but the rate of change has been rather more rapid, partly due to a more robust national middle management. However, here, logistical and security concerns can slow the process down and limit effective monitoring and feedback. Stakeholder beliefs Those closest to the chalk face sometimes seemed to be the most open to the ideas of autonomy and choice and, while some absorbed new ideas very quickly, it took longer for the military administration to change thinking. Nevertheless, as this chapter has emphasised, it was essential to win their support before change could happen. Some teacher co-ordinators’ beliefs proved to be deeply entrenched and resistant to change. In Ethiopia, many teachers adapted to the use of SAC logs and counselling quite rapidly, but invariably listed as target areas sets of discrete grammatical items (especially verb forms and prepositions) to the neglect of other skills work and directed users only to grammar reference and software grammar practice resources. This was influenced by the respect, almost reverence, for grammar (although less often for grammatical accuracy), which is an important component in the local paradigm of language teaching. In Afghanistan, initial reactions to the idea of choice and a process in which teacher co-ordinator and learner could agree tasks to be performed was very positive, but teachers soon focused on monitoring and a desire to oversee each and every learning step. How could we best ensure that users were completing learning logs and performing tasks – were weekly checks required? How could we ensure that tasks were completed that targeted language areas which appeared less attractive or more demanding to learners? How could we ensure that learners were always honest? It is easy for a system that claims to encourage autonomy to become one of control and surveillance (Diaz, 2012) and in both contexts the concept that the teacher’s role is to constantly ‘check’ learning is dearly held. This is partly a result of the emphasis put on control by national teacher-training programmes and partly a hangover from previous school teaching backgrounds. It takes considerable diplomacy to help practitioners see that learners (in degrees of motivation, tenacity, frankness and problem-solving skills) are not very different from ourselves as language learners and that ‘checking’ can often be more of an obstacle than an aid to effective learning. Task design Teacher co-ordinators also needed time to develop skills in the design of tasks and sometimes found the process challenging. Results were sometimes patchy and required tactful, critical support until they were fully usable. There was also a certain degree of plagiarism, which had to be countered. An unfortunate by-product of the process of analysing sample tasks was that participants became quite capable of identifying strengths and weaknesses in materials (especially the latter, in assessing the work of their peers) but not always capable of actually producing serviceable tasks. Task design also demands a degree of imaginative creativity, something for which it is difficult to provide training.
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...