Train The Teacher has continued this year with more trainings at the British Council for teachers who are preparing students for the Cambridge Starters, Movers and Flyers exams.
The trainings have been very successful, with the biggest indicator of this being the increase in the number of students taking the Cambridge YL exams.
Overall, the teachers’ main concern in 2017 has been how to address changes in the exam for 2018, and how to do this in a way which promotes genuine language competence.
The training reminded teachers through the song ‘Scared for the Children’ by Jeff Beck, and the poem ‘Leisure’ by William Henry Davies (below) that we have obligations to think about the cultural and educational health of our students. The emphasis on engaging and meaningful interaction in the classroom went some way to achieving this.
What is this life if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare. No time to stand beneath the boughs And stare as long as sheep or cows. No time to see, when woods we pass, Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass. No time to see, in broad daylight, Streams full of stars, like skies at night. No time to turn at Beauty's glance, And watch her feet, how they can dance. No time to wait till her mouth can Enrich that smile her eyes began. A poor life this if, full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.
The training examined the changes and gave specific guidance on which tasks or techniques would be most suited to the changes. Some examples from the training included techniques such as
Teacher elicits yes/no question forms. Teacher begins drilling while eliciting extensive substitutions in question forms. Students give thumbs up and down for answers. Students drill each other as per teacher’s model.
Teacher asks What is happening here? Transfers to a student who asks the teacher What is happening here? Teacher models answer and students copy reply.
The underlying belief in these examples is that we can develop accuracy in a variety of ways, one of which is lightly inductive in a grammar drill based around real examples; the other, a teacher model of natural language use which students attend to by copying the teacher model.
Clearly, there are many more fluency oriented tasks in a preparation course for Starters, Movers and Flyers, and these were made available on USBs to trainees who attended the training.
Train The Teacher were privileged by the large number of teachers who attended the training, by the presence of an academic from Shanghai, and a school manager from Nanjing.