EXPLORATIONS IN THE PREPARATION OF PRE SERVICE EFL TEACHERS: A LEARNING CENTRED APPROACH
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AbstractA learning centred approach to the training of EFL teachers at pre service level was tested for appropriateness and efficiency in bringing about desirable attitudinal and behavioural changes. A general framework was reconstructed to reflect the development of knowledge of teaching constituting background knowledge. existing practices of teaching and exploring new practices of teaching. A cross sectional survey study was made covering a population of 38 respondents of four categories: trainees who followed the revised syllabus of the ILS. trainees who followed the old syllabus of the ILS. university lecturers teaching English and school teachers teaching English. The purposes of this study were (i) to get a reasonable picture of the status quo and (U) to pilot the efficiency and precision of the questionnaire designed to collect data. The questionnaire included items that reflect teachers' perceptions of effective teaching. attitudes to the profession and perceptions of classroom communication in terms of Fanselow's categories. Data collected was treated by using the variability test and Means of preferences were computed to see value attachments. The cross sectional study suggested that teacher variability in the preferences of language teaching practices and their underlying principles is determined by lack of practical experience. Teachers' perceptions showed statistically significant agreement in those practices and principles that reflect their teaching (for the practitioners) and classroom learning (for the trainees) experiences. The Means computed to show value attachments. however. suggested the existence of favourable intentions in teachers to be competent in their professional practices. Thus. a teacher training methodology focusing on practice and reflection was reconstructed to promote the development of knowledge of teaching in trainees. The effect of the methodology was tested by conducting an experiment for four months with eleven trainees of EFL of the ILS. Statistical data was collected using the core questionnaire at pre and post project. Qualitative data was collected using diaries. video recordings of teaching practices and project evaluations made by participants. The variability and sign tests were used to treat statistical data. Descriptions of qualitative data were made for reflection on the process. The effect of reflective practical experience on reducing variability by helping trainees to get access to the knowledge base of teaching is supported. The longitudinal study suggested that (i) as teachers' teaching repertoire increases. their shared perceptions of practices and principles of promoting effective teaching increase; (ii) as teachers' understanding of themselves and their practices increase their abilities to optimise the interaction of classroom variables increase and (iii) as a corollary effective teaching is neither teacher nor learner centred. but a process realised when a teacher is able to bring himself/herself. the students and the teaching aids in use into optimum interaction. In the longitudinal study reflections made by trainees and observations made during the four months suggested that if teachers are helped to discover themselves and understand their practices. they can tackle classroom problems such as class size. poor motivation of students. poor materials and the like. In order to help trainees to get in control of their capacities. the training methodology has to consider trainees' background knowledge as a starting point. xvii • < Trainees come to the training programme with established beliefs, values and expectations. Reflection on these topics prepares them to accommodate new modes of thinking. A descriptive and participatory approach is observed to be an appropriate technique to break defensive barriers and to create a social climate of trust among trainees themselves on the one hand, between the trainer and trainees. on the other. The longitudinal study suggested that as trainees continue to develop self confidence, they also embark on exploring and experimenting with new techniques and practices to increase their teaching repertoire. The management of the process is critical and the role of the teacher trainer is decisive. The exploratory stage marks a significant behavioural and attitudinal change towards becoming a professional teacher. The process of learning to teach and teaching to learn is enhanced. Thus. it is called A Learning Centred Approach. Since this is also an exploratory study, the validity of observations made and statistical measurements used has to be confirmed by colleagues interested in second language teacher education. It is hoped that issues raised throughout this work will provoke thought, inquiry. and future research.