The application of a self-learning framework for English teachers in the age of megatrends in schools
AbstractRecent mega changes in the social, political and educational context of Hong Kong and the subsequent impacts on language teachers have put great demands on English teachers' effectiveness. Some of these irresistible changes are, for example, the implementation of TOC in primary schools, the proposed benchmark qualification assessment recommended in the Education Commission Report 6, the fast changing diversity in students' needs and ability due to the influx of immigrant children from the mainland, and most important of all, the insistent demands on quality teaching and learning of English despite a declining status of the language due to the change of sovereignty. Working in this changing environment, English teachers very often encounter unexpected challenges and great demands of effectiveness as professional language teachers. Responding to this, the present paper offers an emerging perspective to the perplexing question of how English teachers can function effectively in an age of megatrends. It suggests that to enable these ELF/ESL teachers to be responsive and adaptive to the megatrends in schools, the answer lies in a shift in the paradigm of teacher learning and development. The authors propose that English teachers should embark on self-learning while self-managing their work in schools so as to be able to face new challenges in the ever changing internal and external environment of the school. This paper attempts to apply the self-learning framework developed by Cheung & Cheng (1995 & 1996) to illustrate the concrete stages of how English teachers could engage themselves in an iterative process of self-learning. Cheung & Cheng's (1996) self-learning framework comprises two self-learning cycles: the Major Cycle and the Support Cycle. The Major Cycle consists of five sequential stages: namely, Environmental Analysis, Planning & Affiliating, Developing & Directing, Implementing, and Evaluating & Monitoring. The Major Cycle provides an overall mechanism for practicing self learning through which teachers develop strategically in response to new challenges from work. The Support Cycle, which facilitates action learning (Argyris & Schon, 1978; Mohrman & Cummings, 1989) in various stages of the Major Cycle, is necessary for learning specific linguistic, pedagogical, professional and management knowledge and skills which are essential for effective functioning as a professional English teacher. The paper also reports the experience of teachers who have applied the proposed framework of self- learning. It illustrates how the practice of the self-learning cycles could facilitate English teachers to develop continuously while adapting and responding to their own unique changing school environment. Implications for both school-based and institute-based teacher training will also be discussed. It is hoped that the present paper will offer insights for practitioners and teacher trainers to further develop their practices in schools and related teacher education programs.