A letter to the teachers of English: 77Language teacher education and training (1) [Archives:2005/822/Education]

March 7 2005

Dr..M.N.K.Bose ([email protected])
Associate Professor of English,
Faculty of Arts, Ibb

Dear Fellow teachers,

This and the next few letters will focus on something not directly related to classroom English teaching, but has a lot of bearing on all that you, as a teacher, do; it is language teacher education and training, LTTE in short. I have chosen to discuss this area with you because most of us do not realize the vital link between LTTE and the classroom teaching; some of us, though we know, forget it as soon as we enter the teaching career. Forgetting LTTE is like forgetting the mother once you get married to someone. I hope this discussion will remind you of the role of LTTE in the life of an English teacher.

Not long ago, educationists thought that teacher preparation for the teachers of English should be revamped, as the gap between the preparation programme and the actual teaching programme was becoming wider. Many countries applied the results of the researches in the fields such as language, linguistics, psychology, educational technology and sociology to enrich the teacher preparation programmes. Educationists desired that teachers be educated rather than trained, as was the practice at that time. Education, they said, would prepare teachers for meeting the challenges of the classrooms more confidently as they would be prepared to meet any eventuality; training, on the other hand, would prepare them to face only a classroom which is problem free and tailor made for a few teaching practices.

Those who are trained will be successful as teachers in classroom teaching situations which replicate the teaching practice classes they have had on their preparation programmes; they may feel miserable in the event of situations different from the ones they have not been prepared for; they will feel insecure to face professionally threatening situations, if they arise, in the classrooms; they feel ill at ease while facing problem students or unnecessarily complicate the situations because of their lack of professional competence to handle them tactfully. They are happy using the curriculum with the teaching materials and exercises handed down to them without any difficulties, without worrying if they suit the needs of their students; they find it difficult to evaluate their students effectively through various ways of evaluation procedures. On the whole, they are the 'human robots', effectively programmed by their trainers and left in the classrooms. Their teaching is very successful as long as the parameters of the classroom for which they have been tuned do not change.

But is the classroom made of unchangeable and unchanging parameters? Isn't it full of active lives bubbling with energy and enthusiasm? Do you think that today's classrooms are the same as the classrooms of yester years? Are our students same as what we were as students, academically as well as otherwise? Isn't it true that psychologists and sociologists have declared that children of one generation are wiser and more knowledgeable than the past generation? Some of us are misguided by our students' knowledge of English and misjudge their intelligence. Will continue. Bye.

Yours fraternally,

Dr.M.N.K. Bose