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teaching local languages

Discussion in 'Teaching overseas' started by neanderthal, Feb 25, 2012.

  1. I am head of an international school in Asia - the hardest posts to fill are always local language teachers as candidates tend to lack understanding of modern teaching methods. Currently we stream our language groups into 3 levels from absolute beginner to native-speaker. All 3 groups seem to spend a huge amount of time learning in English (praise, classroom management, instructions, questions and explanations all seem to be in English). As I said, I learnt French and German this way at school more than 20 years ago. However, I also learnt Russian from a Russian-speaker more recently and the lessons involved no English from day one. Admittedly the first week was a bit odd as we made sounds repeatedly and practiced letters. However, after this, progress was exceptional! I have changed recruitment policies for local language teachers so that I am less interested now in qualifications and more in 'affinity' to English education and willingness to learn. Alongside this I am putting aside time to 'train' them - including investigating external support; one of the first things I want to look at is how to teach without using English (generally the local teachers I have employed have been so proud of their English, they're rather reluctant not to use it!). Am I barking up the wrong tree? Or is this how languages are taught today anyway? What are your opinions? And - critically - does anyone have experience of any online teacher training courses for non-UK staff; I'm not worried if they offer a qualification or not (like an iPGCE for example), merely that they provide decent resources and support (I've looked at SAOS as a starter). Thanks! FYI I've posted on MFL as well.
     
  2. I am head of an international school in Asia - the hardest posts to fill are always local language teachers as candidates tend to lack understanding of modern teaching methods. Currently we stream our language groups into 3 levels from absolute beginner to native-speaker. All 3 groups seem to spend a huge amount of time learning in English (praise, classroom management, instructions, questions and explanations all seem to be in English). As I said, I learnt French and German this way at school more than 20 years ago. However, I also learnt Russian from a Russian-speaker more recently and the lessons involved no English from day one. Admittedly the first week was a bit odd as we made sounds repeatedly and practiced letters. However, after this, progress was exceptional! I have changed recruitment policies for local language teachers so that I am less interested now in qualifications and more in 'affinity' to English education and willingness to learn. Alongside this I am putting aside time to 'train' them - including investigating external support; one of the first things I want to look at is how to teach without using English (generally the local teachers I have employed have been so proud of their English, they're rather reluctant not to use it!). Am I barking up the wrong tree? Or is this how languages are taught today anyway? What are your opinions? And - critically - does anyone have experience of any online teacher training courses for non-UK staff; I'm not worried if they offer a qualification or not (like an iPGCE for example), merely that they provide decent resources and support (I've looked at SAOS as a starter). Thanks! FYI I've posted on MFL as well.
     
  3. My wife is one of those "non-qualified" Mandarin teachers and, luckily, we were able to get her a post in a school so that she gained 5 years of experience. Since then, though, she has become a pariah, of sorts, because of the lack of a teaching certificate. The interesting thing, as I read this post, is that she received marks of "outstanding" and, "excellent teaching practice" from an OFSTED inspector (albeit an international OFSTED inspector) because of her use of language and LACK of English in her classroom, as well as her ability to differentiate for 3 different streams of students in one classroom, maximising speaking, writing and reading time. It seems schools are only willing to interview "qualified" teachers and that's understandable, but sometimes, a teacher is a teacher.As for resources for training, she completed a course in the country we taught, so not an online course. If you'd like any more information, PM me and I'll get her to give you her insights.
     
  4. Most definitely is! It is called using target language and is considered good practice.Teachers may reinforce by displaying posters and/or miming.
    Regarding training: you could ask your UK trained European Languages teachers to do an inset or do class observations.
     
  5. wrldtrvlr123

    wrldtrvlr123 Occasional commenter

    That's how we were taught when I went for my TESOL certificate, before I became a certified teacher. In fact, we had 5 lessons in Korean (which none of us spoke or understood) where the teacher spoke not a word of English, just to show us how it could be done.
     
  6. I'm in two minds on this one. Sometimes I think translating in the source language is an effective quick fix when there is a blockage in comprehension due to panic, insecurity, duration of presentation/explanation (without effective questioning) etc on the part of the learner. And there is the danger that learners will switch off if they become overwhelmed with large 'clusters' of language. Mime can be tricky at times if you are not aware of all cultural nuances pertaining to particlular gestures.
    From my experience if the target language is used from day one students will become far more competent in all skills eventually.
    So they say but I think it should be kept to a minimum.
     
  7. We have a superb Mandarin programme. Standards are very high and all our 9 Mandarin teachers teach though technology - IWBs. CPD is an important part of their development and none of them teach for their first six weeks at the school. The shadow an expat teacher and observe current Mandarin teachers. It has proved very successful. Also helps to have strong HoD. We also differentiate into five groups from beginners to almost native speakers. E-mail me for further info.
     
  8. Sorry dont know how to use the edit thingy.
    Sometimes I think translating in the source language is an effective quick fix when there is a blockage in comprehension, due to panic, insecurity, long presentations/explanations without effective questioning, etc.

     
  9. While some hand-holding may be permissable in the beginners' class, there can be no excuse for using English at the native speaker level.
     
  10. Hi,
    I'm a Head of languages in an International School and had to work a lot with my local language teacher, not just on using the target language but also teaching the different skills (listening and speaking as well as reading and writing) and differentiating. After 5 years I can say that there has been a lot of progress but I don't think there is any quick fix unfortunately. The CIE diploma is quite good if you have a member of staff willing to lead it. Good luck! And yes immersion or as much target language as possible is still the best way to learn (as long as there is plenty of visual support)

     
  11. Thank you all! This is exactly the kind of feedback I was hoping for. Strangely, my personal feeling from having done a lot of observation in the last month is that using English with the native speakers is not particularly a problem - they are learning about the language not 'the language' per se and can easily recognise when they're switching out of it, into English. In addition it gives them a chance to talk about 'how languages work' since they're effectively fully bilingual. For the beginners, many don't have English as their first language either, and switching between two non-first languages and 'tuning in' to which is being spoken at any one point seems to make things very, very hard - a little like if I had been taught German using French. I am glad I'm not barking up the wrong tree - my instinct and understanding was that this was how MFL is taught now - and thankful for the tips about training. But don't get me wrong: I'm not overly critical of my Mandarin (however did you guess?) teachers - on the whole, they're enthusiastic, keen and want to learn and, having just appointed two new teachers, am keen to capitalise on that to create a department that shines!
     
  12. I came across this, it may be of interest to you all: https://www.iss.edu/wli
     

  13. Yep. I saw that the other day after the fact and was tempted to upload it.[​IMG]
     

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