Reforming Pre-Service English Language Teacher Training Using Professional Community of Learning

Reforming Pre-Service English Language Teacher Training Using Professional Community of Learning

Abdulmalik Yusuf Ofemile (University of Nottingham, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5846-0.ch017

Abstract

In the English language teaching context in Nigeria, teacher training-institutions often use theoretical and outdated curriculum with little emphasis on the acquisition of communicative language teaching (CLT) skills or content mastery. This does not adequately prepare teachers for work in basic and secondary schools. This chapter focuses on the potential of using professional community of learning to train pre-service teachers of English in CLT approaches. Two groups of teachers with similar pre-service training were evaluated during teaching practice, with one group being exposed to CLT approaches. Results suggest that pre-service teachers that were exposed to CLT approaches performed better in class than those who were not. Following these results, the potential for replication and integration into the national teacher-training curriculum in Nigeria is explored.
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Introduction

This chapter identifies challenges in the English Language Teaching (ELT) context at various levels, including having Newly Qualified Teachers (NQTs) that are strong on theory but without corresponding practical pedagogic skills, experienced teachers who cannot cascade acquired training skills, outdated curriculum used in teacher training institutions, and general systemic failures resulting from a combination of these factors. In response to these challenges, the chapter outlines how a Professional Community of Learning (PCL) was used in the FCT College of Education Zuba-Abuja (COEZ) to identify, explore and turn these challenges into resourceful potentials for improving teacher and institutional capacities.

In addition, the chapter reviews previous research into PCL, Communicative Language Teaching (CLT), and the Cambridge ESOL Teaching Knowledge Test (TKT) with a focus on identifying features that inform PCL design and implementation techniques. The ways in which PCL is used to institute multi-level reform in English language teacher education in Nigeria is then explored, with a focus on improving pre-service teachers’ competences and strengthening institutional capacity to improve ELT in schools.

Through this exploration, it became apparent that the PCL approach has the potential to strengthen weak and outdated pre-service curriculum, prepare pre-service teachers with adequate CLT skills for the classroom, provide ready-made master-trainers in primary and junior secondary schools, and develop a body of knowledge for future application across ELT contexts. Furthermore, the PCL approach may also improve the teaching of English significantly by improving pre-service teachers’ linguistic skills and exposing them to professional practice even before they graduate to face the challenges of their profession.

The chapter reports on a pilot programme in Nigeria that used PCL to give a basic grounding in the CLT approach to pre-service English language teachers with a view to making them better equipped for professional practice and development. PCL implementation as described here progresses in three stages. The first is preliminary work where the team is formed, curriculum is integrated, and the operational system is outlined. The second stage is project implementation which occurs in two sub-stages, starting off and the actual practicum. The final stage is evaluation done when pre-service teachers are on teaching practice. Students go for teaching practice supervised by subject specialists and the credits earned count as a requirement for graduation. By examining the implementation and outcomes of this approach, the chapter offers a reform that promotes a student-centred teaching approach and active learning strategies among pre-service teachers of English in Nigeria.

Key Terms in this Chapter

CLT: Communicative Language Teaching. An approach to English language teaching that emphasizes interaction and provides opportunities for learners to engage in real communication by employing their natural language acquisition skills to learn the meaningful use of a second language.

TKT: The Teaching Knowledge Test. A professional qualification that focuses on developing core communicative language teaching (CLT) skills in teachers of English as a second language.

COEZ: The College of Education Zuba. This is the host institution for the project.

Competence: Competence is the mastery of subject matter, knowledge of, and about, the English language, and the ability to transmit these communicatively to learners.

Reform: Reform in this chapter is the process of using the PCL to refine English language teacher education by focusing on improving teacher competences and institutional capacities.

PCL: Professional Community of Learning. This term is used here to describe a collaborative process based on a shared vision developed around stakeholders in a learning environment that leads to improvement in learner competence and institutional capacity.

NCE: The Nigeria Certificate in Education which is the minimum teaching qualification in the country.

COEs: Colleges of Education in Nigeria. These are teacher training institutions that focus on producing teachers for the first nine years of the Basic Education level in the country.

CLIL: Content and Language Integrated Learning. A program designed for teachers that teach different curricular subjects using the medium of English.

NCCE: The National Commission for Colleges of Education. This is the regulatory body for teacher education in Nigeria.

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