THE INITIATIVE PROMOTER’S PERSPECTIVE
In the Northwest of England there was and is a felt need for training in community language teaching, such as Arabic, Urdu and Mandarin as many students wish to take exams in them including up to A level, and only some mainstream schools are offering courses in the languages. Many students study these languages in supplementary schools but there are fewer resources for these languages, and supplementary school teachers are part-time, and are not always trained language teachers, and more often speakers of the language with a degree in a different subject etc. We wanted to raise the standard of teaching in these schools by supporting the teachers and in turn improving the language learning experience for the students.
We chose these languages as they are the most widely spoken community languages in the region. It was considered that teachers of these languages needed support with basic lesson planning, classroom management, improved confidence and language teaching ideas and skills.
The main objective was to provide basic training in the form of a structured sequence of workshops interspersed with observation.
- A one-day introductory workshop looking at trainee needs and basic issues related to teaching
- A day of observation of experienced teachers of modern foreign languages in mainstream school seeing techniques in use that participants were not familiar with
- A second workshop discussing the ideas gleaned from observation and how to use these to teach Urdu, Arabic & Mandarin languages
- Trainers then went to schools to observe trainees teaching and offer feedback.
- A further end-of-year summer workshop was held to review practical experiences to date.
- Courses were run at the Institute of Education at Manchester Metropolitan University.
* APPROACH ADOPTED IN THE PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT OF THE INITIATIVE:
This was a new initiative and considerable planning and administration was involved. A member of the local council with community education experience was consulted over the original Project plan. Once the bid for funding from Routes into Languages was approved there was more consultation with teacher stakeholders, school heads and other stakeholders.
* PROJECT MANAGEMENT STRATEGY AND APPROACH ADOPTED - IDENTIFICATION OF STRENGTHS AND WEAKNESSES OF THIS:
- A problem-solving approach was taken to iron out teething and admin issues
- Data on needs, expectations and satisfaction was collected from the very beginning to monitor
* DIFFICULTIES THAT HAD TO BE WORKED OUT:
- Recruiting teachers for the workshops was not so easy even though the provision was free of charge. Potential participants needed to be contacted and encouraged. Course information had to be translated into the relevant languages etc
- It was not easy to identify schools willing to allow trainees to observe. Schools wanted CRB checks
- Participants had special needs relating to their proficiency in English, their timetable restrictions, childcare, so timing of workshops and visits was important. Some were unwilling to visit schools alone.
Problems were gradually solved by strengthening relevant links with the schools and the community and by introducing a Code of Conduct for participants.
About 200 teachers took part - teachers of Arabic, Mandarin and Urdu
* STRATEGIES USED FOR FOSTERING LEARNER MOTIVATION:
Trainees who attended all course elements were awarded a certificate
An option of gaining 20 university credits was offered provided an essay of 1500-2000 word was submitted. The University’s language teaching certificate requires 60 credits, though few took up this option
* PROJECT EVALUATION USED: regular evaluation
• OUTCOMES AND ‘DELIVERABLES’ PRODUCED:
About 200 teachers of these languages attended the courses over the 3 years. In addition 6 sets of workshop materials for Arabic, 4 for Urdu and 2 for Mandarin were produced and are available on-line for any trainer or teacher to use.
• CONSISTENCY OF THE OUTCOMES WITH INITIAL PLANS AND WITH THE EXPECTATION OF THE END USERS:
The number of teachers targeted as participants had not been set. However, evaluations showed a large increase in confidence and the range of teaching skills among those who participated and reported on the questionnaires.
• WAS AN ASSESSMENT OF THE QUALITY OF THE OUTCOMES CARRIED OUT?
Yes, a researcher worked on the project from the beginning collecting data on expectations and levels of satisfaction. The comparisons of data collected at different stages, including at the end of the year showed a significant long-term change in attitude and confidence among the trainees.
• WHICH OF THE FOLLOWING INDICATORS WERE USED?
o Originality and innovative aspects of the outcomes – no, although the project manager knows of no project that is the same in format and structure
o Potential transferability of the initiative – not formally, but the structure and format is thought to be easily transferable
o Impact of the project – Yes, see above
• MOTIVATIONS LEADING TO THE APPLICATION FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:
Project manager had worked in the University of Manchester and knew of the scheme.
• PROCEDURE USED FOR APPLYING FOR THE EUROPEAN LANGUAGE LABEL:
This was felt to be straightforward in spite of the short word limit. However, it was hard to define the impact of the project at the time of application.
• INITIAL EXPECTATIONS (WERE THE INITIAL EXPECTATIONS MET?):
No great expectations other than dissemination, profile raising and networking value
It proved helpful for networking and informing others of the initiative. This led to a meeting with another national body and others requesting the toolkit.
• BENEFITS FOR THE INITIATIVE AND THE ORGANISATION(S) INVOLVED OF HAVING BEEN AWARDED THE ELL:
Greater profile for the project and good opportunities for dissemination
• Winning the award gave the community language Trainers great pride in the work they had done and what they had achieved. Had the project run in future years I think the award may have helped to attract more teachers, as community groups attach a sense of importance to schemes that have been recognised as being valuable.
• IMPACT OF THE INITIATIVE FOLLOWING THE AWARD OF THE ELL:
No direct impact on the project so far.
• CONSISTENCY OF THE IMPACT WITH INITIAL EXPECTATIONS:
The main point is to ensure that there is a plan for data collection on relevant aspects of the project and its participants’ views and experiences from the start. This should begin even before the project starts.
The project also needs to be transferable to other contexts and languages, and adaptable
THE NELLIP NETWORK’S PERSPECTIVE
"EU language policies aim to protect linguistic diversity and promote knowledge of languages – for reasons of cultural identity and social integration, but also because multilingual citizens are better placed to take advantage of the educational, professional and economic opportunities created by an integrated Europe. The goal is a Europe where everyone can speak at least two other languages in addition to their own mother tongue". This project was clearly in line with these policies, especially as it aimed to assist people in the community to retain and develop their home language alongside English, and to motivate non-speakers of community languages to learn them in addition to English.
EU priorities for 2010-2011 were:a)Language learning in the community and b)language skills as preparation for work. This project focused on community languages (Urdu, Arabic and Mandarin) and is clearly in line with the first priority. The second priority related to how the project helped teachers to prepare children to complete their schooling well.
THE NATIONAL AGENCY’S PERSPECTIVE
WHAT ARE THE THREE MOST IMPRESSIVE ASPECTS OF THIS PROJECT?
• The progress made in a short period of time by supplementary teachers
• Skill in reaching teachers normally isolated from training opportunities
• Effectiveness in contributing to community cohesion
HOW DOES THE PROJECT MEET THE JUDGING CRITERIA?
• Innovative – This is a structured programme aimed at teachers in supplementary schools who in many cases had little or no training on teaching methodology. Teachers get the opportunity to voice their own individual needs and interests which are then met by the flexible approach. Teachers get the opportunity to observe in mainstream schools and to have their own practice observed with feedback given. The team was innovative in their approach to recruitment to the course which included features on radio Lancashire amongst other less obvious routes.
• Replicable- a toolkit has been produced containing all the resources. These resources which have been developed and adapted as lessons were learnt during the process make the project easily replicable by others. Although the languages chosen by this project were Mandarin Chinese, Arabic and Urdu the programme would be easily replicable to other languages.
• Effective – teachers involved in the project feel their practice has greatly benefitted from their involvement in the project. They have greater awareness of resources available and a network of other teachers has allowed them to further share practice and seek mutual support. In particular they felt they had really gained a great deal from learning strategies for classroom management. A key feature of getting the mainstream school and supplementary school together was to address the issue of children feeling they live in two separate worlds.
Comments on this Case Studies