“Teach Me Something” An in-house short course run at Izmir University of Economics
Teacher training is possibly the most important consideration of learner needs. At Izmir University of Economics, Professional Development (PD) is given the utmost importance and instructors receive regular training on new ELT approaches. The amount of training given in the last five years is well over 100 sessions. What kind of training could be motivating, fun and valuable for teachers who have already been exposed to a wide variety of PD activities for over ten years in the same institution? Bearing that question in mind, we decided to put the teachers in students’ shoes and teach them topics which are not related to ELT.
We designed the training in three sessions. In the first two sessions, half of the participants were exposed to a very teacher-centred lesson while the other half to a student- centred one on the same topic. In the third session, based on the previous two sessions, they were asked to prepare the production phase of a lesson on another non-ELT topic. The sequence of the training was as follows:
First session: The lesson was on the Italian folk dance, the Tarantella. Thirty participants were divided into two rooms. In room 1, the participants attended a student-centred lesson with plenty of practice and production. The participants in room 2 were exposed to detailed information and gap-fill exercises, but a minimum of dance practice. When the lesson finished, all the participants gathered and were asked to perform the dance together.
Second session: The participants swapped rooms so that all of them could see the differences in teaching approaches. They were taught Ignite (a presentation of 20 slides, which automatically advance every 15 seconds), Lightning (a very short presentation lasting only a few minutes, given at a conference or similar forum), and Pecha Kucha (a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds). In room 1, again, minimum theoretical information and maximum time for practice and production were given, whereas in room 2, it was the opposite. At the end, the participants gathered and were asked to give short talks to each other. Then, they reflected on their experiences as learners.
Third Session: All the participants were given the task of producing a 10-minute production stage for a lesson in which they were expected to teach each other American Sign Language (ASL). Initially, they received an email which had links to ASL videos and a handout giving various explanations on how to teach very basic ASL. The aim was to choose the most effective material to teach ASL based on their experience as learners in the previous sessions.
We observed that the participants who received very little practice were reluctant to perform because they lacked confidence, whereas those who received an effective lesson displayed willingness, confidence and enough courage to participate in the production phases. The feedback received from the teachers showed us that the training not only forced the tutors and teachers out of their comfort zones but also provided concrete evidence that prioritising production and increasing student involvement is the key to effective learning and teaching. This alternative form of PD, employing a tailor-made approach to teaching practice in order to create a long-term impact in classroom, should continue to be exploited in the teaching and learning environment.
Funda Çetin is involved in in-service training and teacher development in her current position at Izmir University of Economics. She is an approved Cambridge ESOL Oral Examiner, and a CELTA, CELT/P, CELT/S and ICELT tutor for Cambridge ESOL Teaching Awards.
Gulfem Akdogan has a BA in English Language and Literature. She is an experienced teacher in testing, curriculum and materials development. She is also a speaking examiner for Cambridge CAE
Pınar Acar is a Delta-qualified teacher/teacher trainer with a BA in English Language and Literature. She is a speaking examiner for Cambridge Assessment English and doing her MA in ELT.