IATEFL TTEd SIG PCE- Participants’ Voices- PART 1

Gerry McIntosh, who is the Business Development Manager and Teacher Trainer for British Council in Kyiv, Ukraine, held the first session given by the voices from different parts of the world. His session was on the in-service teacher development project conducted by the British Council, Ukraine. Gerry started with some numbers representing the number of teachers and learners in Ukraine.

  •  There are 37,280 primary and secondary teachers whereas there are 1,122,579 primary school learners and 2,347,998 secondary learners.
  • Students get 3-7 hours a week of ELT in secondary schools, the norm is 3 years though.
  • Simple maths shows that the need for teachers is great in Ukraine.
  • Pedagogical universities and linguistic universities are available for people who would like to teach English.
  • Teachers are required to take an INSETT every five years to renew their qualification.
  • The last major reform was experienced in 2002 and the need for a reform was actually highlighted by teachers and the Ministry of Education in October 2011.

After setting the scene, Gerry listed the aims of the In-service teacher development project;

  • Encourage thinking beyond knowledge-based development
  • Encourage reflection on learning and teaching
  • Promote classroom-based action research
  • Encompass task-based learning
  • Develop classroom skills
  • Ensure long-term impact

They designed a common core syllabus and offered teachers some optional modules considering their various needs along with some elective specialist modules. They considered the British Council CPD Framework. Teachers were asked to complete Career e-portfolios. There was also the opportunity for a blended learning programme. They have been following the time frame below;

  • October 2011: initial concerns analysed
  • November 2011- March 2012: materials selection and editing
  • November 2011 – November 2012: training, piloting, monitoring
  • November 2012: programme launch
  • November 2012 – November 2013: monitor, evaluate + tweak

Gerry promised to communicate the comments and the feedback along with some outcomes in next year’s IATEFL. He can be reached at gerald.mcintosh@britishcouncil.org.ua

MENA (Middle East and North Africa) REGION

The next session was held by a group of teachers who have worked in the MENA region, which was represented by teachers working in the UAE, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Algeria. Nick, who is the project manager from the BC the region, did the introduction. There are 16 countries in the region of MENA.

Nick summarised their mission in the region: It is to create and provide training opportunities for teachers at all levels of (primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary) in the public and private sectors. They  aim to improve the teaching of English in each country in the MENA region. With this mission in mind, they offer the following services to the teachers in the region.

  • Face to face training courses
  • Online courses
  • National and international conferences
  • Working with Ministries of Education
  • Working with the private sector

Following are some of the projects they presented:

“LETUP was the best thing that had happened in Libya for years” Libyan Ministery of Education (2010)

1. Libyan English Teaching in Universities Project (LETUP): this started in 2006 to establish English language teaching in universities.The need for improved English language skills in Libya is growing rapidly as Libya’s commercial and other links with the rest of the world develop. However, since there was little or no English teaching in Libya for a considerably long time, there is a dearth of trained English teachers and very low-levels of English spoken generally throughout Libya.

So far, the BC have helped establish ten university language centres, supplying a core curricula, teaching & learning resources and classroom equipment: including Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs) & ELT software. Most centres are still developing the self-study rooms and computer labs but they are there and in use.

 2. Tunisia – Vocational Education: English for Employability

The teacher representing Tunisia, mentioned the the aim of the English for Employability programme which is to enhance the quality of vocational English training and through this the employment prospects for Tunisian youth in vocational education. The programme proposes to do this by creating a system of continuing professional development for English language teachers, creating a group of master trainers. These trainers will then be able to train new recruits to the system, as well as develop skills in curriculum development and materials design.

The programme is based on research carried out over the last three and a half years into Tunisia’s English language needs for the world of work and the availability of a considerable and growing resource of British Council English products. These trainers had not received any training for the best part of 15 years (!) so this project is a significant step forward for them. They are presently discussing what their status and job description will be as Master Trainers and look set to be part of the decision-making process, which theycannot imagined having happened before Jan 2011.

3. Morocco. the representative of Morocco mentioned two important things:

•ICT Marrakech Conference
•Teacher Learner Communities
The presentation was wraped up by the following notes:

MENA facebook site for learners – 500,000 likes

Sites for teachers in MENA and free resources for teachers and students such as  www.learnenglish.britishcouncil.org / www.learnenglishkids.britishcouncil.org and www.teachingenglish.org.uk

Participant Voices went on with presentations from India by Kalyan, the Americas by Gabriel and Turkey by Burcu. The summaries of these will be in the coming post.

TTEd SIG PCE Day Plenary 2 by Tim Philips

The 2nd Plenary of the TTEd SIG PCE Day was given by Tim Philips (Head, Teacher Development, Global English, The British Council, Manchester)

English Teachers Finding Their Feet

Tim’s talk looked at issues relating to the development of teachers of English in different contexts at the start of their careers. It presented research and thinking related to questions including what factors influence their attitudes to teaching and their development, how early training influences their development, and what support best helps them develop in these early years.

Tim started off by suggesting the features of teachers at different stages of their careers. He  wanted pairs to talk about the following questions which generated fantastic discussions and gave the audience a chance to get to know each other’s experiences.

  1. What initial ELT training did you have?
  2. What was your first job after training?
  3. What was most useful about your initial training?
  4. In hindsight, what would you change or add to your initial training?

Below are what groups came up wıth as useful and that may need changes.


  • Being observed
  • The Principles of ELT
  • Lesson planning
  • Micro Teaching
  • Learning about the resources
  • Reflections


  • Learning about Classroom Management
  • Learning technologies
  • Learing how to teach Strategies
  • Language awareness
  • Observing seniour teachers
  • Learning about how to assessm learning
  • The realtionship between Teaching & Learning

Tim Philips mentioned Michael Huberman’s study (1989) on Professional Life Cycles of Teachers

Career stages and beginning teaching – The concept of career stages or phases was paramount in early accounts of teachers’ careers. Huberman (1989) and Huberman, Gronauer and Marti (1993) portrayed the career of a teacher as, for the most part, a series of linear, successive, developmental career stages. Within this work, beginning teaching comprised the ‘career entry’ stage, a stage which was characterised by ‘recurrent themes of “survival” and “discovery”’ during which ‘survival’ was often a time of self-doubt and ‘reality shock’ (Huberman, 1989,p. 33).

Huberman associated experience and expertise, but the nexus between these two concepts was questioned by later writers like Berliner, whose concern was the development of expertise in teaching. Berliner (1995, 2001) designated career stages in terms of the development of expertise, and disassociated experience and expertise as necessary concomitants of one another. Berliner maintained that, although experience was usually a necessary component of expertise, it was by no means a sufficient one.

Tim Philips attracted our attention to the impact of teacher education referring to a few authors’ insights as follows:

  • Teacher education as a “low impact enterprise”(Lortie, 1975)
  • “Weak intervention” compared to trainees’ own school experience and later professional socialisation (Richardson, 1996)
  • What teachers have learned during their teacher education seems to be “washed out by school experience” (Zeichner & Tabachnik, 1981)

When a new teacher starts his/her new job, what do the experience? The following was shared as discussed in Novice Language Teachers: Insights and perspectives for the first year. Ed. Thomas C. Farrell (2008)

  • Encounter with reality – relationships, results
  • The job may be in a different context than focused on in training
  • Learning the culture of the school
  • Entering as a junior
  • Learning to teach as you teach
  • Applying principles to practice
  • Developing an identity as a practising teacher

Tim Philips also shared the experiecne of novice teachers as Prof Medgyes. Some are as follows:

Novice Teacher 1

I thought that my teaching would be the same as the books say, but it was not like that…the theory in the books…when I entered the classroom I thought that it is not the theory that you should follow, but you have to find your own way of teaching…I became aware of the fact that theory and practice are different.

Novice Teacher 2

We were taught many theoretical information, and when I did the micro-teaching and the internship I realized that theories do not work in the classroom…I had the chance to use the theories, because I was not the real teacher. I could do whatever I wanted to do, but I realized that not all theories can be applied to every class.

Novice Teacher 3

The teacher must have a perfect knowledge of his/her job, and field…s/he should have such personal characteristics…just to be a knowledgeable teacher is not enough, so there are some other personal characteristics like being friendly for example, sometimes students don’t need a teacher but need to see you as a good friend…at that time you have to behave as if you are a friend.

Novice Teacher 4

I want my students to do their best, and to pass their exam, and move to the second level…as far as I am concerned, I want to be known as a teacher who works hard, and who is creative and someone who has a good reputation.

Tim summarised the emerging themes from the novice tecahers’ comments as follows:

•Teaching as part of a strong educational and social culture
•Being a teacher is being a person
•Working as a teacher means working as part of a team
•Importance of creating “your own theory”
•Initial teacher education links 2 strong influences – prior experience of schooling and having a job as a teacher
•Need for initial survival skills and learning skills as a new teacher

Tim Philips asked the audience if the teaching certificate courses such as CELTa, or TEFL courses offered by universities address these emerging themes. And shared the following authors’ comments;

  • “professional development takes place through professional conversation” Garton & Richards (2011)
  • “there is a need for a more dialogic approach to training and practice”           Copland, Ma, & Mann (2009)
  • “knowledge of the language … is directly proportional to self confidence in a teaching situation or when interacting with colleagues”                                                                                                                          Banegas (2009)

Finally, Tim indicated the role of the British Council;  Teaching English website which was visited by over 4 million visitors in 2011/2012 and the UK CPD (UK Continuing Development Portal), Pathways in EAP.