One of the wonderful things about a site like this is that...

...we, as teacher trainers, have a question we want to ask of our professional community, we can put it out on the ‘cyber waves’ and have the chance of getting responses from all over the world.!!! So, in that spirit…

I wonder if there are any pre-service teachers reading the site? Maybe not. But for sure there are thousands of in-service language teachers reading the site!! There may be teachers of from two to 40 years experience reading this site right now! If you are one of them, I expect you have views, maybe strong views, on what you do and don’t like about the teacher training process, the topics often covered, the manner of the trainers, the way training sessions are structured and so on. Would you spare a little time to educate us as to how you see things? I am sure many teacher trainers browsing here would, like me, really love to know more from the client, the customer, the hard working teacher who is interested in professional development and knows how they want it to proceed.

So Dear Teachers, over to you?

All good wishes and looking forward very much to learning about your point of view!

Tessa Woodward


Tessa's blog is now closed for comments - check the Guest Writer's page to see who our current blogger is.


I think the main issue is that many of the teacher's themselves do not know what exactly they need in order to teach and more importantly to be effective; i.e. 'at the end of the lesson are you able to tell your self.....what did the student(s) take home with them today?'  If you cannot answer that question comfortably then something is amiss.  I believe that one of the more important, of all skills for a teacher to acquire is his/her ability to know the learner.  The more you know about him/her the easier it will be for the teacher to adapt and craft (design) the lesson such that the there is maximum benefit for the student.  This is derived from the maxim that the customer is king.  You can only make a sale if you know the needs of your of your customer. Hence developing techniques on assessing and understanding your students is critical. I believe all other skills will eventually fall in place, i.e. knowing good structure, having a clear understanding of grammar, good classroom management, etc. etc.          

Dear Tessa,Greetings to you.You mentioned it right.  The teacher's training is of paramount importance and more so sharing knowledge through the medium of cyber waves. I have been conducting sessions for Teachers and Professors ... to start with to the topic of "effective communications".  Teaching job is both noble and the most challenging professions of the 21st century.  The teachers are role models and the way they carry themselves with their communication style reflects on the student-community. I say ... "communication portrays the character and the tongue is the translator of your intellect".The teacher is involved in all forms of communications (just to name a few ... one-to-one, one-to-many -- for listening, speaking, reading, writing; with use of body language and voice techniques).  Are the communication skills at par with the best? - This is a million dollar question.  Technically teachers are a way ahead with their subject knowledge, but I have experienced a big gap when it comes to delivery and translating the knowledge they possess with effective communications.  I am attempting to bridge this gap with my sessions.Would it be fine, if we share case-studies with a recommended learning to advocate the subject ... are communication techniques is a skill that teachers are looking forward to build on?The case studies can be broadcast and the teachers can comment with their experiences and results.Let us get some more responses from teachers / trainers who are willing to come forward.Good wishes, Mustafa Lokhandwala 

As far as I have analysed things the course content of teacher training courses is very very good. But the teaching part is in depressing state here. B.ED as a course isn't taken that seriously here neither by the students and nor by the teachers. It is just a degree which would be an official pass to enter into teaching profession. Internship or practice teaching sessions aren't observed that seriously and institutes award marks to students. I don't want to be explicit here but I guess you can understand.  If even the present content is taught with conviction one can gain a lot from teacher training courses.

Hi, and thank you for giving us teachers an opportunity to say something about our job! That there is a teacher training site is already a big improvement since teaching is one of the most difficult to understand jobs for those who are not called every day, like us, to judge wether or not a child is 'better' in one topic than another, at least that's the impression many parents get - that their children are being judged, caught red-handed, punished and so on and so forth.This, in my view is the most detrimental side of our jobs, for what a teacher wishes to achieve in their classes is 1) that children become interested in the subject they study and 2) that they improve their language abilities through our language lessons by acquiring vocabulary, grammar and syntax through a language course which makes them get a feel of what English is and how it works. So, a website about teacher training could and should contain important tips for us teachers about how to make English classes 'cooler' and more interesting/funny; this is important especially for those of us who teach in middle schools (age 11-13). To them it's all ever so boring!Could there be a way to devise classes so as to make it a bit less boring and a bit easier for us teachers to teach! Remeber also that dialogues devised for a British class don't always work in other countries (I have lived in the UK for a long time and, teaching in Italy, I have to explain that 'tea' is not just the famed British drink but that it might mean actual 'dinner' or that Standard English doesn't necessarily mean British English (differences between English and American). In terms of teacher-training, remember also that system abroad are very different, so perhaps a few tips about this too would be a good idea.It would also be of importance to know what people think of teachers and/or how we come across as professionals, in terms of how our career could enhance or be enhanced. Thanks ever so much again for bringing up this issue, kind regards, Raffaella 

It was really nice to watch your interview. You really gave me lots of great ideas. Nowadays, I'm helping schools teachers to grow in this ELT profession. I'm planning to implement a program of teacher training based on their methodology weaknesses I found, especially "developing speaking skills in students", their language competence. Since the school principal is worried about upgrading the level of command of English, I just suggested that we need to help teachers to grow in language teaching-learning methodology and teachers' language competence. There is a close relation between these two aspects. If we do so, not only teachers will be taking advantage of this training but also students from secondary. 
I think teachers of English are more interested in developing their language competence. For example, I've been working as a teacher for the last 7 years and as an English coordinator for the last two years in schools and language centers and I've just been proposed to be a freelance academic consultant. It's good to know that I'm helping teachers to become better at their subjects very soon. But giving my own example, I was always concerned about my linguistic competence, questions like "Am I speaking perfect English?" "Do I have to certify my level English one more time by taking another international examination?" "Would I have more confidence if I had the chance to live in an English-speaking country for some time?" "Will I teach better if I travel abroad?" 
On the other side, teachers of English want to know more about techniques to assess, evaluate, and give feedback to their students.
The Ministry of Education of Peru, in agreement with the American Embassy, have decided just this year to help teachers from public schools to develop two areas: methodology used in class and language competence, by giving them permanent training and this is due to external examples like Chile, Colombia and Mexico. You won't believe me if I say that public schools has only one hour and half of English. It's hard for teachers to do great things with that time, what do you think?
In summary, I would say that teachers of English like to be helped by well-experienced teachers. You mentioned in your interview that your teaching and the way you approach it has been influenced by looking at great teachers' lessons. That's great! And not necessarily by writers or researchers.
Once more, thanks for giving us support! Let's keep in touch!

I should like to say that, in teacher training at present, there seems to be appearing a serious drawback or even a ruinous tendency. This is the restricted freedom of the teacher to be himself first of all irrespective of the subject he is teaching. I mean the overdone attention to the student's comfort, satisfaction and freedom at the expense of the respective conditons for the teacher. This is so markedly vicious in some universities that a teacher may suffer administrative fines if he does so little as ignores a student's intention to talk in the corridor when he is in a hurry to begin a lesson on time, if he keeps quite high tempo in lecturing or stops to think for a longer moment, if he corrects his students papers very conscientiously and even if he uses red ink to mark his students' papers. I cannot enumerate all the minor aspects of the behaviour of a person in front of a classroom that may earn him disapproval.
I have studied under the professors born and educated before WWII and I always admired their focused, superior and a little abstracted behaviour in front of the students. I have followed their example to feel both a scholar and a performer in front of my own students. But a recent tendency has been to put the teacher down to the point when his individual manner has to be eliminated for the psychological comfort of the student. I wonder therefore how the teachers to be can learn the art of managing the load of the information ready to be delivered, excitement ready to interfere  and the grace of the interpretation of the process of communication and of themselves. When are they going to learn it if they don't see their teacher as a living source of information and a full-blooded living person who is charged intellectually and emotionally rather than a stuffed doll dancing attendance on his students? This worries me a lot as I have suffered a lot. I have been teaching a regular academic subject the last two years outside my own country and have been successful with my students who are courteous and interested. But the tendencies as described exist in some schools and they are damaging to the teachers to be, to the process of instruction, and to the person himself.  Thank you.
Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene,
Dr.habil., Professor, Wszechnica Polska, Warsaw, Poland

Initially I would like to thank you for applying to our ideas.I have been an English Language teacher in the country whose native language is not English ,for 24 years.I love my job very much and always searching for better training methods and technological developments.In my country the pupils are always complaining about not to be able to use the language they have been learning for many years.I 'm wondering how can we use the "Drama" methods in teaching a foreign language.I believe that teaching a language with drama will help the students to use it practically and easily.They have to use the language by living it via the method of "drama".
Thanks for everything...
Best Wishes...

Dear Ajit Singh Nagpal, Mustafa Lokhandwala, Priyamvada (Respected Ma'am!), racantillo, jesus nicho, Debris Rutkauskaite/Marija Liudvika Drazdauskiene and Slbye!!
First of all, please forgive me if I have called you the wrong thing! I have copied what I found on my screen but maybe that is not your real name or the normal way of referring to you!
Secondly, thank you all very much for taking the time and trouble to educate us teacher trainers about the way you see teacher training.
If you are a teacher trainer reading this, may I suggest you read the messages above as they are the real flesh and blood concerns of practising teachers?
I would not want to attempt to summarise the full and intense offerings you have all sent in above. But just to pick out a few things, we trainers evidently need to consider putting into our teacher training and development programmes work on:

  • how to get to know our language learners
  • how to communicate effectively ( and there is a suggestion that we could start that right now with a case study or two and some discussion. Would anybody like to offer a case study?)
  • conscientiously observed teaching practice
  • how to make classes interesting especially to 11-13 year olds
  • intercultural sensitivity
  • what people think of teachers
  • teachers' own language competence
  • developing the speaking skills of our language students
  • more on assessing, evaluating and giving feedback
  • how to be yourself...a living source of information and a full blooded person 'charged intellectually and emotionally'
  • using drama methods in ELT

And that may well be just the start if we get more responses!
Now, seriously, would anybody like to write in with a case study on the subject of effective or ineffective communication? It would need to hide all references to real people of course but still give us all a feeling for what happened, where, when, how and why.
I will check in tomorrow to see if one has come in.
In the meantime thanks again to all who wrote in!
All good wishes

Dear Tessa, For the first time I hear (actually read) such a perfect and pertinent question from a teacher trainer.  I think every teacher trainer should ask this question to participant teachers before take off for training.  A big thank you to you for asking this question. It has multiplied my joy during this Diwali season. Firstly, I feel training should focus on teachers and their work lives.  As student is or should be the focus of teaching so for training it should be teachers and not method, innovation, change, nor trainer.  A trainer should strive to see what teachers want and what have they brought with them (like values, attitudes, beliefs and knowledge) and tune in the training to these factors.  It is my experience that the most heard comment after the training session is over is – “this doesn’t work in my class”.  So first priority should be

  1. understand teacher,
  2. her/his classroom,
  3.  and finally what the teacher aims to do through teaching.

  With kind regards, Krishna Wardha - India

Dear Krishna, Thank you very much for the support! Yes, first we should, as you say, understand the teacher, then her/his classroom and finally what the teachers aim to do through teaching. I do think it is great fun and very rewarding to get a starter or beginner teacher to the stage where they can go into a class with some confidence and do something useful for the language students. But to my mind, working with teachers who already have some experience and have their own style is one of the most interesting and profound kinds of training work.   It starts perhaps with the teacher leading and informing. (Saying and showing, in effect, this is who I am and what I do and how my situation affects me). Then there can be a kind of mirroring back by the trainer to check all is understood. (Saying, in effect, this is what I understand you want to do and what your situation is like) Then comes a kind of dance where the two different roles, teacher and trainer take it in turns to lead and inform, and listen and respond. The teacher offers more and more information about their situation, the trainer offers what may be useful and they work together to adapt it to the teacher's style and context. What a privelege to work this way! I think lots of teachers and trainers like it. But sadly it is not always possible. Teachers may be meeting in large groups, of mixed experience, may be forced to be there, may be under time and money stress. Trainers may not be allowed the time to get to know the context. Or may have been given a brief by a senior bureaucrat that has not been checked with the teachers first.  But at least we can hold it up as a good idea and get as close to it as we can!  Nice to hear from you, Krishna! All good wishes Tessa