Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Being an English language teacher in Elementary Education...

“We must claim for a more complete pre-service training of ESL teachers” ... That’s right!

“The English language teachers in elementary schools, must to be the ones with the “best” English command”... Hmm! It seems reasonable...

"Every" elementary class teacher should have a good (enough!) command of this language to use it anywhere and at any time” Wow!

The teachers of language, of any language, we have the opportunity and the challenge, nowadays, -as it said by Michael Byram-, "to develop and strengthen in our students, attitudes of research, communication, participation and responsibility, creating links between their learning in the class and the activities made in the school, in the neighbourhood or anywhere in the world".

This means to move towards a pre-service training based on multicultural and multilingual competence and on a commitment to citizenship. The pre-service teachers must understand that "we are changing from to teach languages for communication, to teach languages for intercultural communication" (Paloma Castro).

For that reason the pre-service training should include:
  • 3 or 4 periods of real teaching in different schools throughout the whole degree,
  • with a good pre-service tutor in the college as well as in the schools,
  • and a mandatory pre-service period in an English speaking school or an Erasmus.
In this sense, colleges should facilitate international exchanges (Socrates, Leonardo ,...) and provide some subjects taught in English during the degree, to achieve a very good command of language, especially oral (level A2 or A1 CEFR *), without forgetting the training on methodology and on English language in all specialties of teaching.

We also need a methodological change in some of our teachers colleges. Working on projects as we do in schools, using ICT and new teaching-learning technologies, using portfolios as a reflective tool, and making the learning and best practices visible as a way to grow personally and professionally

I like this example of small project done by future teachers as part of their training at the URV (Universitat Rovira i Virgili in Tarragona). It is a story called The Dummy Panda and it is made with some ICT (and non ICT!) resources and, above all, it takes into consideration some of the above mentioned issues on pre-service training.

I think it is amazing and it can give some interesting clues and ideas to do wonderful things in your classes.

*CEFR: Common European Framework of Reference

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