Teachers Professional Development

Training student-teachers

 

          A three days Seminar was organized by The Ecole Normale Supérieure of Laghouat on TEFL from March 4th to 7th. Together with the main guests who were specialized in the field of Teaching English as a Foreign Language, the department of English presented different interesting topics aiming to develop learning autonomy in learners and help them put into practice their theoretical knowledge. The topics were presented to students by the consultatnts in form of debates which allowed learners to ask questions and give their points of view. In return, the consultants gave feedback either to support the students’ beliefs or make some readjustments. The discussions were mainly about learning models, lesson Planning, aims and learning objectives.

 

         The first lecture was presented by Mr. MERABET about learning models. “Learning models” is one of the most discussed topics that makes a raw material for many philosophers, linguists and pedagogues through history. Though different studies on learning lead to different views about which way is best helpful for both teachers and learners to accomplish their learning aims and objectives. The aim behind such a variety of assumptions remains the same; which is to facilitate learning and make it more effective and fruitful. The most important and dominant models are: the encyclopedic model, the behaviourist model and the constructivist model. Each one of these models has its own principles and key elements on which it is based.

 

          Firstly, the encyclopedic model is a model that goes hand in hand with the Content Based Approach. It assumes that learners have empty minds and that they do not know anything. All that they are asked to do is to listen attentively and to receive information. In this model, every activity that is held in the classroom is centered on the teacher, while the learner is but a receiver without any kind of reflection. According to the encyclopedic model, learning is a set of contents and subjects that teachers have to transmit to learners. The teacher is required to cover the program and to assess learners depending on samples of contents.  

          Secondly, the behaviourist model is a model that is closely related to Objectives Based Approach. It tends to develop behaviours and capacities through content starting from an initial behaviour trying to reach a new expected behaviour previously designed as an objective by the teacher. It gives more importance to learning objectives as it is a model in which learners are reactors and are assessed according to samples of objectives.

          Thirdly, the constructivist model is a model that is linked to Competency Based Approach. It argues that the learner’s ancient equilibriums about things start to disappear as soon as he faces other equilibriums that are different from his own ones. After that, he compares between them and creates a new equilibrium. This model focuses more on the learner than the teacher; it provides learners with the appropriate resources and materials to solve real life problem situations and helps teachers develop learners’ competences. As learners are more active in this model, assessment is based on their production within a complex situation.

          Last, being a good teacher or a good learner is not about selecting one model and neglecting the two remaining others, but it is about being able to adapt then adopt them all into the learner’s needs taking the positive aspects of each model.

         The second lecture presented by Mr. LOUZNADJI  about lesson planning, aims and learning objectives as well as target competencies. Planning is a vital strategy that insures successful running to the course since it elevates the classroom atmosphere as well as the student’s learning to a great level. It strengthens self-confidence and self-esteem in learners through motivating and facilitating instructions. There are three kinds of planning: short-term planning; when a teacher plans the lesson to be presented to his students. Mid-term planning; when a teacher puts a plan for a specific sequence from the teaching unit. Long-term planning; in which the teacher designs a plan for the whole year. To prepare good plans, teachers should depend on some documents, integrate Competency Based Approach and design clearly stated aims and objectives.

 

          The documents that are used in planning are divided into two types, official documents and personal documents. The official documents provided by the ministry of education are named as such: the curriculum, the syllabus, the supporting document, the teacher’s book and the class log-book. The pedagogical documents are the yearly planning, the unit/lesson plan, the personal log-book and the training log-book.

          The integration of Competency Based Approach in planning should take into consideration the following categories of competences and try to develop them. The first one is Language competences that are: interactive competency, interpretive competency and productive competency. The second one is supporting competences that are: linguistic competence and language strategies.

          Undoubtedly, aims tend to be broad, vague and abstract whereas learning objectives are noticeably precise and concrete i.e.; objectives are the expected actions from the students at each step or level during the lesson to achieve a specific way. The needed components to put learning objectives are: audience, observable behaviour, conditions of performance and degree or criteria. Beside those components, a good teacher states SMART objectives for his lessons; an objective must be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bounded.

          Planning is very important to facilitate learning for students and classroom management for teachers. Without it, teachers may be lost when they give lessons, the matter that hardens the attainment of the desired aims and objectives.

          To give students a chance to be active participants in the seminar, the consultants administered some workshops in which learners listened to the given instructions and then created their own production that was in form of lesson plans in different language skills.

           Mr. DJEBARRA was responsible for giving lessons about receptive skills; listening and reading. He gave the main benefits of listening as a linguistic skill and explained the difference between interactional and transactional listening referring to the fact that interactional listening occurs when people listen to one another in ordinary discussions and friendly conversations while transactional listening occurs when a speaker wants to transmit a piece of information to his listeners. He also suggested some ways to make listening tasks either easier or more difficult and tips to design suitable listening tasks. By the end of the workshop, students were able to design tasks successfully.

 

            Mr. ZEBBAR worked on another workshop that was about the productive skills; speaking and writing. In his workshop, he gave students instructions to create tasks for both skills. He emphasized giving importance to audience when selecting the appropriate language to use in writing as well as on using some useful techniques such as listing and mapping.

 

            Mr. LOUZNADJI explained to students how to teach grammar and gave them a sample of a grammar lesson, then he asked them to plan another lesson. Mr. MRRABET dealt with assessment and evaluation explaining that assessment is about judging students learning to make appropriate decisions about it whereas evaluation is merely an administrative issue in education. He also provided students with some hints about the characteristics of a good test elaborator. As a final activity, he taught them how to plan a pronunciation lesson and asked them to design their own plans.  

 

            By the end of the last workshop in the seminar, students posted all their production on an amphitheater so that they can have a look at each other’s production and asked for the instructors’ feedback. Learners appreciated the consultants’ performance and their high mastery of the subject matter. The tutors praised the students’ willingness, readiness and eagerness to learn. It was noticeably evident that the ENSL students of English had a joyful journey with the consultants in which they enriched their knowledge and acquired a kind of responsibility and readiness to be teachers of the best kind.

Chaima Titraoui

 

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