Teacher education of English Language teachers: developing awareness

Year: 1990

Author: Saravanan, Vanithamani

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

In English Language teacher education programmes in Singapore a knowledge base as well as a practical component based on language teaching methodology and practice teaching (practicum) is included, Larsen-Freeman (1983). The programmes include a knowledge base drawn from linguistics and second language acquisition theory, procedural knowledge based on language teaching methodology , pedagogical grammar, the teaching of reading, writing, listening and speaking skills, language testing, unit and lesson planning) and the practicum The practicum which is compulsory is taken towards the end of the post- graduate diploma in education. The components include practice teaching, observation of experienced teachers and peers, regular classroom teaching with supervisor and discussion activities Britten D.(1985) Chaudron (1989). Microteaching of peers comes towards the beginning of training together with courses on methodology. Teacher trainers feel that microteaching of peers is often an artificial activity removed from the reality of the regular classroom. Secondly practice teaching starts fairly late in the training programme. In order to overcome the gap in the teachers' experience, from 1988 onwards a eight week school attachment programme called "Pupil Experience" has been included as part of teacher training (during the beginning of the course) at the Institute of Education in Singapore. In order to prepare effective language teachers, it is felt that teacher education has to include activities and experiences that will help the novice teacher to understand and acquire the means by which the effective teacher arrives at significant instructional decisions (Richards J.C. 1987) J.C.Richards & T. Rodgers (1986), Carr & Kemmis (1983), Strahan D.(1990), Schon (1987), Shulman L. (1987), Grimmett P.(1989). This paper considers this eight week attachment programme. It considers how teacher education should involve an individual oriented approach with a focus on developing decision making and training in self-awareness. The paper considers the role of reflection in the training of English Language teachers. Teachers who were supervised were required to keep weekly journals of their teaching experiences. These journals help the teachers to record their progress and their reflections about their learning: learning about the practices they are developing and the process for studying these practices, that is, through observation. An analysis of these journals will be presented pointing out novice teachers' reflections on instructional improvement related to their knowledge base, evaluations of their actions, decisions and reactions, and the nature of self-development documented in these journals.