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Survey/ Assessment of ELT Teacher Training Programs

Updated May 15, 2021
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Survey/ Assessment of ELT Teacher Training Programs essay

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Language teaching and ELT teacher training, development and education witnesses changes over the last century (or at least over last five decades). These changes inform shifts in thinking and theorizing (Johnson, 2009; Johnstone, 2004; Jourdenais, 2009; Wallace, 1991). Such situation creates a conceptual diversity within ELT teacher training specialty. It explains why different paradigms, models and theories emerge. These emerging dynamics of conceptualizations necessarily influence the theoretical climate where TTPs operate.

The reminder of this section reviews the theoretical framework of the paper. The paper aims at different ends. First, it surveys and assesses the different TTPs. Second, the paper conducts a historical analysis of TTPs. However, it goes beyond situating the TTPs within their historical context. It goes beyond following their historical development.

It rather provides a critical scrutiny and engages with the wider discourses, relations and valuation systems within which these programmes are embedded. Thus, this multi-faceted nature of the study motivates interweaving different theoretical perspectives. The paper draws on a theoretical framework of different teacher training paradigms and models. These conceptual models serves as interpretive framework in analyzing TTPs. In addition, the framework blends cultural political approach and critical pedagogy. Using these two approaches facilitates the scrutiny of the wider discourses and the multiple histories of TTPs.

It is better to define what a model itself is them review the different teacher training models. Consequently, a model is “a way of thinking, a way of rationalizing about complex processes or presenting it schematically” (Deyrich, 2014:85). In these lines, models of teacher training, development or education attempt to rationalize a plethora of conceptual issues. It provides a way of thinking on issues such as the place of knowledge, the role of the teacher and his/her learning.

Besides, a model addresses questions as ‘whether to focus on theory or practice?’ and ‘whether to conceptualize teacher learning as a process-oriented outlook or a product-oriented one?’ They all try to answer the question how teachers attain professional competence. Theoretical literature roughly divides teacher training paradigms into two streams. A conservative, behaviourist and product-oriented models represent the first paradigm on the one hand.

On the other, a constructivist, critical, contextualized, situated and process-oriented models represent the second stream. Johnstone (2004:660) offers a “pluralized” classification of “competency-based” and “reflection-based” models. In this respect, the theoretical framework reviews four models of teacher training: the craft model, the applied science model, the reflective model and the experiential model.

To begin with first stream or the conservative paradigm; the craft model is unavoidable start to discuss the theoretical background of this paradigm. Another name for this craft model is apprenticeship model. The starting point of this model as it name suggests is the simple premise ‘practice makes perfect’. Therefore, this model stresses a practical knowledge in training (Deyrich, 2014).

To this end, trainee teachers develop their teaching competence by observing and imitating experienced teachers or their trainers. Thus, the trainees are “sitting with Nellie” i.e. they are sitting with an experienced trainer (Deyrich, 2014; Wallace, 1991). In this way trainee teachers develop their professional competence by forming habits through repetition and practice. Accordingly, this training philosophy reduces language teaching to developing routines.

Theoretically, this training philosophy situates the craft model within what Deyrich, (2014) calls as an “observational paradigm” (for more elaboration on the term\concept paradigm see Kuhn, 1970). Similarly, one can argue that the way the apprentice model emphasizes observation and imitation makes it a de facto behavioural in the outlook. In response, it follows a behaviourist paradigm of thinking.

In addition, Johnson (2003:99) claims that this paradigm reflects the marginality and devaluation of the teacher’s role. It reflects the debate of “knowledge ownership” i.e. who owns/produce knowledge? Are trainee teachers potential to produce knowledge in their classrooms or not? In this regard, it positions the trainers or the university professors as knowledge owners or knowledge producers (to speak euphemistically). On the other hand, it under-values trainee teachers. It regards them as practitioners, technicians and knowledge consumers.

The second central model relevant to our theoretical argument is the applied science model. This applied theorist model shares many similarities and differences with the craft model. In term of similarities, both models devalue the trainee teacher. They view him/her as a transmitter/deliverer of state fixed curriculum. In addition, they do not prepare teachers to reflect on their practice (Deyrich, 2014; Johnstone, 2004). In term of differences, the applied model unlike the apprentice one stresses teachers’ theoretical knowledge. In other words, the two models only differ on the type of knowledge they stress. The applied model accentuates theoretical knowledge while the craft model emphasizes practical one (Deyrich, 2014; Wallace, 1991).

The third theoretical point is the reflective model. The reflective and experiential models conceptualizes a constructivist paradigm. These models show a theoretical fray with the observational paradigm. According Johnstone, (2004: 661) the reflective model is “a reaction against the forces of bureaucracy, centralization and control which have been descending on teacher education”.

The reflective model overcomes the forces Johnstone outlines because it values the teacher. It surpasses all the earlier models in the observational paradigm in valuing the teacher. Therefore, it conceptualizes the teacher as a researcher or a reflective practitioner. It values the his capacities, self-perception, and critical awareness (Burns, 2003; Deyrich, 2014; Johnson, 2003; Wallace, 1991; Wallace, 2012). It fulfills this end the reflective model integrates a research component in its teacher training programme.

Classroom action research is a fundamental defining feature of this reflection-based model. According to Wallace, (2012) this model develops teacher professional competence through blending a professional practice and a reflection cycle. In this way, it becomes a mean for developing teachers’ professionalism. In these lines, Wallace (2012:1) defines it as “a systematic analysis of data relation the improvement of some aspect of professional practice”. Action research integrates situational, contextual and critical features in its conceptualization (Burns, 2003). Meanwhile, it “requires ability to look at our own practice in a more detailed and objective way than normally we do” (Wallace, 2012:1).

Burns (2003) calls for “a move away from the current individualistic versions of action research to a more collaborative and critical interpretations”. Similarly, Wallace, (2012:207) invite teachers to collaborate and to share their ideas. According to him, “a teacher is not an island thus ideas arises from his/her are to be shared”. These calls suggest some potential gaps in action research and the reflective models in general.

One drawback of this model appears in its “lack…[of] theoretical input”. In response teachers teacher relies on their “intuitive background” (Deyrich, 2014:87). This gives the reflective model a Chomskyan flavor (see, Chomsky, 1957). Because teachers rely on their intuitive knowledge as data resource to reflect on their teaching.

The last model is the experiential model. It represents as Johnstone, (2004: 661) notes a reactionary conceptualization. The experiential model emerges to the problems of the intuitive data and theoretical input face teachers in the reflective model. To resolve this problem, the experiential emphasizes the external input. As a result, the teachers “search for theoretical information from outside, even from another discipline” (Deyrich, 2014:87). This point lies in the assumption that “learning how to use [this] theoretical information likely enriches teacher understanding of the processes of teaching and learning and the context within which these processes can be expected to work effectively” (Deyrich, 2014:87).

The foregoing part of the theoretical framework discusses four models of teacher training. These models serves as a conceptual base for surveying and analyzing TTPs. Besides, the framework draws additional conceptual points from critical pedagogy and cultural politics. The paper’s framework relies on these two approaches because their role in analyzing the wider social, political and historical discourses of teacher training.

To begin with critical pedagogy, according to Girox (2010:3) it “provides tools to unsettle commonsense assumptions, theorize matters of self and social agency, and engage the ever-changing demands and promises of a [certain] polity”. The work of Paulo Freire (1973) represents the ground for critical pedagogy as a theoretical conception. Freire’s approach to pedagogy is not “about training in techniques or methods, indeed, far from being a mere method or an a priori technique …”. In response, it is “a political and moral practice that provides the knowledge, skills, and social relations” (Girox, 2010:3).

Pennycook (1990:310) articulates “positioning” teachers merely as “classroom technicians employed to transmit a fixed body of knowledge” disempowers them. Critical pedagogy in response is an effective approach in breaking from the yoke of this positivistic positioning and conceptualization of the teacher. This approach conceptualizes and positions teachers as “intellectuals” who “constantly explore their own and their students’ lives”. Teachers’ position as ‘intellectuals’ is indicative of the debate of knowledge ownership and its construction.

In this respect, critical pedagogy recognizes knowledge as “constructed in a particular, social, cultural and historical nexus of relationship”. In these lines, critical pedagogy highlights the need of the teachers and their students “to actively transform knowledge rather than simply consume it” (Girox, 2010:7). Such inclusive view of teachers and learners “humanizes all the aspects of education and research … [because] it recognizes the humanity and the agency and autonomy of those participate in education instead of regarding them as objects manipulated by others from outside” (Johnson, 2003: 99).

The emphasis of the wider relations in both critical pedagogy and cultural politics makes them twin methods. Critical pedagogy in this respect “examines schools both in their contemporary sociopolitical context and in their historical context” (Pennycook 1990:308-309). Similarly, cultural politics of language is a heuristic framework of ideological analysis. It analyzes language teaching within a wider context of politics and history (Pennycook, 1996).

This double stance emphasis of both the past and the present strengthens cultural politics and critical pedagogy as interpretive frameworks. The value of this historical analysis rests on its potential to reveal change, continuity and new relations in a certain context. In this respect, Popkewitz, (1991:216) views the “assumptions and implications” of professionalism in an educational setting “change… as the ecology of epistemologies and institutional patterns contained new social relations”. Through the lens of social and historical methods people understand the new social relations.

A caveat researcher make here, that readers should not misunderstand the word ‘historical’ appears in the title of this work as mere tracing of historical developments and changes. Instead, it provides a critical historiographical approach that “allows for multiple temporalities rather than a linear progression of change and development” (Makoni and Pennycook, 2007:1). Such historiographical analysis gives a deeper understanding of the TTPs, their history and their changing relations.

The theoretical framework reviews teacher training models, critical pedagogy and cultural politics to situate the debates of teacher training within effective and dynamic framework. A framework as such allows this study to address a variety of conceptual issues. These issues includes teacher training as a subject of power relation, the way different models positions teachers and how their professionalism connects to wider relations.

In addition to the previous conceptual points the framework relies on Johnstone (2004) framework. It wraps different aspects of TTPs into one whole. It is effective in analysing, assessing and evaluating TTPs. Johnstone (2004:652-653) develops a comprehensive framework for surveying and assessing language teacher education provision. The papers adapts this framework and selects some of its key provision aspects. It chooses different aspects of provisions.

First, stage of the programme, (is it a pre-service or an in-service programme?). Second, for which sector the programme is provided (pre-school, primary, elementary or secondary levels). Third, what type of provision the programme offers (1-day seminar, short courses, undergraduate programmes or higher degrees). Fourth, what mode of provision is adopted (is it a direct contact, a mixed mode or a web-based one). Fifth, who are the providers (national or regional authorities, higher education private agencies or consultants). Sixth, who receives training or provisions (student teachers, teachers, or teacher educators). Last, programmes’ generic relations (its social, professional, academic and political relations).

Johnston’s framework provides an effective way to organize information about the TTPs. This section presents the theoretical the paper’s framework. The following section provides a historically–based survey and assessment of TTPs prevailed in the colonial. In an attempt to understand their different aspect of training provision, their conceptual bases and their wider discourses.

Survey/ Assessment of ELT Teacher Training Programs essay

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Survey/ Assessment of ELT Teacher Training Programs. (2021, May 15). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/survey-assessment-of-elt-teacher-training-programs/

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