With a rapidly growing market for online education, Train The Teacher were invited to design and deliver two weeks of online teacher training for approximately 150 primary school English teachers from throughout China.
Using the educational mode of hugely popular Chinese IM platform Tencent QQ, teachers were able to log in to our interactive, virtual classroom and watch our webinar presentations in real time. The topics covered over the two weeks included Improving Teachers’ Fluency and Pronunciation, Teaching Reading, NCET Exam Preparation, Teaching Speaking and Phonics Teaching and Application. The main trainers were Frank Doogan and myself (Angelina Komar) from Train The Teacher.
Our material was carefully designed PowerPoint presentations, but as always, the most important thing was what we asked the trainees to do in the interactive learning space with their colleagues. Participating teachers could see and hear us through the webcam, and two-way communication was possible using a text chat window that was accessible to all participants and the trainer.
Additionally, in order to make the webinars as interactive and communicative as possible, 9 chat groups were set up in advance of the webinars through QQ. Participants could then communicate (in English) with members of their group when there was a task discussion activity (either through text or by sending audio messages). We could also access and monitor each of the groups’ chat windows; these were also moderated by Mandy and Julie, two participating teachers who acted as assistants to the trainers.
All participants were also assigned a QQ partner with whom they could speak directly through QQ or WeChat when asked to do an activity in pairs. This gave the teachers further opportunities to use English, and put into action all the techniques they had learnt on how they could improve their own spoken accuracy and fluency.
Using an educational platform developed for Chinese users and which was therefore exclusively in Chinese proved an interesting challenge for both Frank and myself! However, initial minor technical hitches aside, the benefits and convenience of this method of training were evident (the significantly shortened commute was much appreciated) :)
Of course the evidence of the effect of the training is the measure of its worth, and we will know this after we complete the online interviews to take place before the end of April. Here’s to the trainees’ success!