As some of you may know, I’ve been working with local teachers, really, since November to plan a series of trainings for local university teachers. We recently wrote and were approved for a small project grant to conduct these trainings. Last week we started meeting with some local teacher trainers to discuss the themes of sessions and discuss some of our goals. I’m learning A LOT from this process myself. This project will finish up next December-we’ll break for summer holiday when everyone goes to the villages to farm. I know some of you are interested in what my job is like and I realize I’ve written more on cultural issues in the past. Below is some more information about the project we are starting.
Goal 1: To improve English teaching techniques by using communicative techniques of teachers at Issyk-kul State University
Objective 1a: To hold monthly sessions in March, April, and May on the topics of facilitation and feedback giving
Objective 1b: To organize a 4 day intensive teacher training during the last week of June to be attended by at least 25 of the university English teachers
Objective 1c: To Facilitate 10 weekly training workshops in Fall 2011 featuring Shaping the Way We Teach English training program
Goal 2:To foster an environment of shared professional knowledge, skills, and resources among English faculties at Issyk-kul State University
Objective 2a: To incorporate 15 new methodology handbooks into trainings and creative course planning
Objective 2b: To coordinate the use of a new DVD player and technology cart for trainings and lessons that include media supplement
The Issyk-kul FORUM chapter has shown great initiative and commitment to the training of local English teachers. This year local trainers are scheduled to conduct 14 trainings in Karakol and 14 in various villages around the lake. This round of trainings ends in May 2011. Within the last year, there has been a trend of low attendance to these trainings by university teachers. The local FORUM leaders are rethinking the approaches to training this group of teachers.
There are three English faculties at the Issyk-kul State University. Two of the faculties, Grammar and Theory, prepare students who will become local English teachers. The third, Inter Faculty, teaches general English and English for specific purposes for first and second year students in various other faculties across campus. There are 42 English teachers at the university alone. About 30% of the teachers are young and are eager to learn new teaching techniques. There are several teachers who are extremely active in the local FORUM chapter and have participated in international programs. However, according to most other university, they have not attended local trainings due to scheduling conflicts. They also feel that the content of current training sessions are appropriate for secondary teachers who focus on general English for children and teenagers; whereas, university teachers instruct adults in preparation for specific professions.
In December, we distributed surveys to the university English teachers and their students to find out what skills and materials they felt were important for the students. The teachers were also asked about what training topics they felt would be important for their professional development. As a result, most teachers requested additional training in current teaching methodologies. We also asked students to write what their future jobs would be and how they expect to use English. The surveys indicated that both teachers and students feel they lack speaking and listening practice. We are continuing to analyze the information to use during curriculum planning.
In addition to the surveys, 14 teachers were observed giving regular class lesson. The teachers observed demonstrated some knowledge of interactive teaching strategies but were not implementing them in their classes. They are struggling to transition to learner-centered methods. Many use lecture and grammar translation methods to teach new language. During feedback sessions, the teachers expressed awareness of areas in need of improvement. They also mentioned that the lack of teaching resources is a limitation.
Description of Priority/Need/Desire:
Issyk-kul FORUM is focusing on the university teachers needs in trainings due to their role in educating future generations of teachers and professionals. In order to increase the quality of teaching at the university, we are requesting funding for new teaching handbooks and a technology cart to aid in the implementation of trainings.
The current teaching handbooks and resource books are at best fifteen years old and are few in number. We are requesting new teaching handbooks for trainings and teacher reference materials. The books feature linguistic and pedagogic topics relevant to all three English faculties. By introducing the new books during the June training, teachers will be able to analyze how to best integrate the resources in their teaching.
During the Fall training workshops, local FORUM trainers are eager to utilize the Shaping the Way We Teach English training program from the Embassy. This training has not previously been used because it requires participants to view and discuss video clips. The Dean of Foreign Languages will make a television available for these trainings but there is no DVD player. We also request funding for the construction of a cart to put the TV and DVD player on so it can be easily moved into classrooms. Though two classrooms have computers capable of showing the video, these rooms are often held for special events and are unavailable. Having a portable technology cart would allow trainings to be scheduled in rooms and at times that promote teacher attendance. When not used for trainings, the technology cart will allow teachers to begin using multimedia in their lessons.
The Issyk-kul FORUM chapter seeks to improve the quality of English learning and teaching at all levels throughout Issyk-kul oblast. We see a distinct relationship between the Issyk-kul State University and the secondary schools that teach English. The university English teachers instruct students who will become future English teachers themselves. Once these teachers graduate, many go back into the villages to teach secondary students. To complete the cycle, local secondary students come to the university to continue their studies in English. In which case, some of these students will become the students of the English faculties at the university. If the teachers at the university are practicing creative, learner-based teaching strategies, their graduates have the opportunity encourage creativity and critical thinking in their future workplaces. These qualities add to the overall improvement of organizations and communities in Issyk-kul oblast.