Cliff Parry talks about ELT its past, present and future
Cliff Parry (MSc TEYL, RSA DTEFLA, BSc, Dip. Management) is Academic Manager at the British Council Greece and has been living and teaching in Greece since 1986. He has a wide range of teaching experience across all course types and ages, as well as extensive training experience. He has written numerous articles for professional journals and ELT publications, and has co-authored a number of English language teaching titles. He has also worked on social inclusion projects for a number of years.
Did you always want to become a teacher?
No, no way. It’s not that I’m ashamed of what I do. It’s just that it’s not what was planned. I went to university and studied mining engineering looking forward (?) to a career in the pits until they were closed. Unemployed, in love (with a Greek), I packed my bags, booked a cheap charter and headed off for Athens in search of new beginning or a happy ending – I don’t know – in any event I think I found both – I went to bed with brickworks and rusting pitheads and woke up with a new lover – a new profession and a new home under the eternal blue skies of Greece.
What was the situation in ELT when you started teaching?
One thing was for sure – I had no idea how difficult teaching was and still is – but I suppose like countless unprepared souls before me and without doubt thousands to follow, I walked into my first class with childish confidence and an English teacher’s bible – a grammar book – a well-thumbed Thomson and Martinet with strange chapter titles like “Simple Present”, “Present Perfect” and “Adverbial Clauses”. I’d never seen such a book before and at the time it seemed to me that it should have been issued with a “health warning” – it’s rules and examples struck me with waves of terror when I realized that I didn’t speak proper-like – so much terror that I didn’t want to speak at all! On reflection, it’s only when you get to grips with such books that you realize we Brits speak anything but correct English but that’s another story.
The bedrock of more effective and efficient instruction is setting and maintaining meaningful relationships with students. Do teachers know how to do it?
Is teaching a discourse in which everyone waits their turn to speak and no one truly listens? Is it a discourse of memorization in which ready-made phrases, ideas, formulas and patterns are reiterated over and over again?
No it’s a partnership. A few weeks ago, I was part of a wonderful story, the memory of which seems to grow inside me. I had been invited to a primary school to teach a class about the Olympic values. At the back of the classroom sat a little boy who was different – he had Down’s Syndrome. For twenty minutes or so he sat there smiling when the others smiled but not particularly absorbed in what was happening. And then slowly the other children realised that he was there and without thought nor hesitation, they took him by the hand and proudly brought him to sit next to me. And there he sat smiling when the other children smiled, laughing when they laughed, jumping when they jumped – totally absorbed not by me or the lesson but by the rich embrace of the children. It was a wonderful experience and taught me much about what teaching really is.
Has teaching changed or we still teach the way we were taught?
It’s summer 2014. I’m confused and even close to tears. I have been timetabled for some very different teaching – far from the traditional language lesson where grammar and words are explained or discovered and students scramble through pages and papers and photocopies in a quest for fluency. No, this summer school will be different. No more revision for the weak, no more challenges for the strong, this summer school will be about art, science, fun and games and all in English – a great idea (since it was mine!) and now a reality. But to be honest, my stomach is churning, morning sickness perhaps and now just for a moment, I am filled with doubts – can I do it? Can I teach anything more than language and anything different than the book? Can I? Of course I can!!!
How difficult is it to change?
I accept change but it is inherently worrying and no matter what rhetoric or noble words are used to paint a picture of a brighter future, we as individuals will always see change as threatening not only at an emotional level (How will I be affected?) but also socio-politically (how will my standing be affected?) and a rationally (Is there any other way?). For me, for change to be acceptable, there must the promise of benefit for myself or my children. So, when change comes I ask where is the promise to the people?
If you could go back what would you change in your teaching?
I think I would have encouraged learners to dream more. We have all had dreams some of which we have turned into reality, others which have changed the people we are and yet others which are still dreams – distant and remote. Learners need to have dreams – not of the impossible kind but positive, achievable real aspirations which can become goals to be achieved over a period of time and it is the sacred responsibility of teachers to help those dreams come true.
The bedrock of more effective and efficient instruction is setting and maintaining meaningful relationships with students. Do teachers know how to do it?
What makes for effective and efficient instruction? Is it patience, love or compassion? Is it maturity, responsibility, decisiveness? Is it courage, selflessness or enthusiasm or is it flexibility, punctuality and preparedness? What makes for effective and efficient instruction? Well judging from the inspirational teachers I’ve met all over the world – all of the above and more!
Have you ever felt embarrassed or insecure in the classroom?
Yes often but never more so than my very first lesson in my very first class. My first students – George, Spyros, Maria and Rania – only 4 (I wonder if the others had taken one look at me and realized that learning lay on other shores!) With one exception, all were in their early twenties – students at one university or another - and reminded me very much of some of the people I’d left behind in Wales. George, on the other hand was older, maturer, infinitely wiser but cold, colder – for him learning English was a duty imposed by necessity rather than a joy or a hobby – it certainly wasn’t fun and his every expression, his every sound underlined it. George had such a profound effect on me that even today on the rare occasions that I return to the UK and spot a pub called The George, my mind fills with dark clouds that chase away the gallant mounted figure on the pub sign. But, despite George I was feeling confident. So there I was – my first class, my first lesson, my first real challenge – to clean a whiteboard. No tissues, no paper, no board cleaner – oh what the heck, I few broad strokes of my hand and the board was clean – my hand less so. Now it was September and like most Greek Septembers, it was warm –with no air-conditioning and only an old fan whirring and clattering away in the corner – cooling itself but not much else, the classroom was unbearably hot. Phew very hot I thought as I wiped the sweat from my brow. Very hot indeed – my class no longer had the energy to write. Phew I wiped the sweat away again. Why was Maria staring at me? Why was George staring at me and Rania too? Then it dawned on me …. my board-rubbing hand was surprisingly clean – the same could not be said of my face.
Does routine teaching make teachers ‘lazy’?
Teaching touches the lives of others. How much does a simple greeting touch the heart of the child as he/she walks into the class? Is the tired boy sitting opposite you influenced by a smile when your eyes meet? Routine doesn’t mean there is no challenge. Routine doesn’t make you lazy. The challenges are the same.
What are the appropriate teacher-student boundaries?
Musicians love the sounds and the music they make, poets and writers love their words, dancers love movement and mathematicians love numbers. People who fundamentally love what they do don’t think of it as work in the ordinary sense of the word – they do it because they want to do it, they do it because when they do it, they can create – yes love breeds creativity and love of teaching not only creates great lessons but also great people. You’ve got to love the people in front of you.
How do you see ELT in say…10 years from now?
Language is a tool and language learning necessarily involves not only acquiring knowledge and understanding of the language as a code but the skills and aptitudes that define an effective user of the tool itself such as critical thinking, the ability to analyse information, express opinions, take part in discussions and debates, negotiate, resolve conflicts and participate positively in society. The future of language teaching should not just provide an opportunity for practice of the code but reinforce the values and dispositions which govern society - respect for justice, democracy and the rule of law, openness, tolerance, courage to defend a point of view and a willingness to: listen to, work with and stand up for others.•
How to start a writing assignment
Writing takes time
Find out when the assignment is due and devise a plan of action. This may seem obvious and irrelevant to the writing process, but it’s not. Writing is a process, not merely a product. Even the best professional writers don’t just sit down at a computer, write, and call it a day. The quality of your writing will reflect the time and forethought you put into the assignment. Plan ahead for the assignment by doing pre-writing: this will allow you to be more productive and organized when you sit down to write. Also, schedule several blocks of time to devote to your writing; then, you can walk away from it for a while and come back later to make changes and revisions with a fresh mind.
Use the rhetorical elements as a guide to think through your writing
Thinking about your assignment in terms of the rhetorical situation can help guide you in the beginning of the writing process. Topic, audience, genre, style, opportunity, research, the writer, and purpose are just a few elements that make up the rhetorical situation.
Topic and audience are often very intertwined and work to inform each other. Here are some questions you can ask yourself about audience:
- Who is the audience for your writing?
- Do you think your audience is interested in the topic? Why or why not?
- Why should your audience be interested in this topic?
- What does your audience already know about this topic?
- What does your audience need to know about this topic?
- What experiences has your audience had that would influence them on this topic?
- What do you hope the audience will gain from your text?
For example, imagine that your broad topic is dorm food. Who is your audience? You could be writing to current students, prospective students, parents of students, university administrators, or nutrition experts among others. Each of these groups would have different experiences with and interests in the topic of dorm food. While students might be more concerned with the taste of the food or the hours food is available, parents might be more concerned with the price.
You can also think about opportunity as a way to refine or focus your topic by asking yourself what current events make your topic relevant at this moment. For example, you could connect the nutritional value of dorm food to the current debate about the obesity epidemic.
Keep in mind the purpose of the writing assignment.
Writing can have many different purposes. Here are just a few examples:
- Summarizing: Presenting the main points or essence of another text in a condensed form
- Arguing/Persuading: Expressing a viewpoint on an issue or topic in an effort to convince others that your viewpoint is correct
- Narrating: Telling a story or giving an account of events
- Evaluating: Examining something in order to determine its value or worth based on a set of criteria.
- Analyzing: Breaking a topic down into its component parts in order to examine the relationships between the parts.
- Responding: Writing that is in a direct dialogue with another text.
- Examining/Investigating: Systematically questioning a topic to discover or uncover facts that are not widely known or accepted, in a way that strives to be as neutral and objective as possible.
- Observing: Helping the reader see and understand a person, place, object, image or event that you have directly watched or experienced through detailed sensory descriptions.
You could be observing your dorm cafeteria to see what types of food students are actually eating, you could be evaluating the quality of the food based on freshness and quantity, or you could be narrating a story about how you gained fifteen pounds your first year at college.
You may need to use several of these writing strategies within your paper. For example you could summarize medical nutrition guidelines, evaluate whether the food being served at the dorm fits those guidelines, and then argue that changes should be made in the menus to better fit those guidelines.
Once you have thesis statement just start writing! Don’t feel constrained by format issues. Don’t worry about spelling, grammar, or writing in complete sentences. Brainstorm and write down everything you can think of that might relate to the thesis and then reread and evaluate the ideas you generated. It’s easier to cut out bad ideas than to only think of good ones. Once you have a handful of useful ways to approach the thesis you can use a basic outline structure to begin to think about organization. Remember to be flexible; this is just a way to get you writing. If better ideas occur to you as you’re writing, don’t be afraid to refine your original ideas.
Teacher-Student Compatibility: A Construct or Reality?
Constructs are powerful entities, casually considered self-evident. A set of constructs is bequest and left to drive our decisions, attitude and conduct. They are omnipresent, pervasive and often unrecognized as such; thereby, they are risky because they can hijack our ability for good judgement. Compatibility, the sense of familiarity and increased liking, is a desideratum in teacher-student rapports and it can go to such great lengths as to sustain or rupture the cooperation.
As all relations that develop among humans, teacher and student rapport nourishes through time and undulates until it is shaped and established.
by Marina Siskou
In Greek, one alludes to the entity of effortless and instant arise of compatibility as “chemistry”, a common derivative of alchemy. Being so, chemistry tends to be an abhorrent notion (for me); suggesting the inexplicable, virtually paranormal concept that one cannot access through effort, wit and good practice.
Positive teacher-students’ relationship promote academic and cognitive progress. But the definition of “positive” is disappointingly vague. One should pursue the most precise feedback of every life situation and condition: what constitutes the positivity of a unique interaction? As common sense provisions, all relations flourish given the pivotal elements of: respect, acceptance, transparency and willingness to forgive -held and practiced mutually. The same principle applies to the teacher-student relationship, yet with the integral entity of professionalism and expertise.
Often, a teacher reiterates that their “instinct”, the sense they develop upon their first encounter with a student, is infallible. Yet, living reality cynically subverts beliefs of that nature: try to enumerate the times you sensed that chemistry between you and a student was budding, only to be disproved. Or vice versa: how many times have you experienced the turn of the trajectory of a nothing but promising first impression? Nonetheless, constructs are preserved and perpetuated.
Good teaching practice might not ensure compatibility, but it is to be effectuated despite any potential outcome. Excellence in teaching, diligence, expertise-the variants that compose good teaching- are the living proof of respect and recognition of the learner. Those are the tangible quantities which manifest responsible, quality practice: unlike a multitude of other professions, teaching outcomes are not felt in the moment: no evident change occurs after the learners exit their classroom: leaners enter and exit the same every day, until a specific time point. But normally, teaching transforms silently-without making significant changes noticed.
On the daily level, there is no concrete evidence that distinguishes good from mediocre teaching, therefore a large proportion of building collaborations relies on intuition. To what scale is intuition reliable?
Confidently, there is no answer to this question.
Within the Montessori education system
The role of intuition extends to the teacher as well. Montessori speaks often about the spirit of the teacher, the need for the teacher to be aware of the direction of life and to always be aware of the inner potentialities that are within each child. Unlike traditional education with its empirical and linear goals, Montessori is not referring just to the potential to succeed in the outer world, but to the potential of consciousness towards a complete humanity. The Montessori teacher needs intuition on a daily level in order to know when to intervene with a child at the right time, but also on a broader scale, the teacher must develop a psychology of developing consciousness and relationship, as opposed to holding a perception of life as being full of unrelated individuals (Hunt, 1912). In this way, Montessori is countering the reductionist approach of the old worldview.
The teacher-student relationship is contingent on each age group. It is a dynamic one that quintessentially takes under consideration the particularities of different age groups and the sensitivities inherent for each one.
Indoctrinated to think in formulaic and absolutist terms, we numb our vigour to mend, enrich and strengthen connections with the learners. There is a saying proclaiming that “a good beginning is half the battle won”, with its tautological equivalent in Greek, “the beginning is the half of everything”. Both phrases over-estimate the value “half”: both are dooming expressions as they conceptualize the rapport, not as the continuum that is really is, but as a product with a beginning and an end. In reality, bad beginnings can be restored, redressed, just as commonly as brilliant beginnings cannot guarantee the same future. Such understandings issue from a reductionist standpoint and impose a ceiling on the amount of our vitality to grow strong teacher-student communities.
It is crucial to be confident enough as to trust the process of fostering and mending genuine rapports. To this end, it feels opportune to appeal to a Montessorian tenet for the teacher: According to Allison (2018), “teachers are expected to self-reflect, to become aware of their role in the energy of the classroom and the work of the children” […].
Trust is the axis of every connection: according to the Harvard Business Review, the three elements of trust are: Positive Relationships, good judgement/expertise and consistency (Zenger & Folkman, 2019). When met with feelings of importance and respect, learners are ready to follow suit and respond accordingly: to participate, strive for progress and forgive our faults-generating the long-appraised entity of compatibility.
Allison, L. (2018). Montessori Education: What is Its Relationship with the Emerging Worldview?Journal of Conscious Evolution, Vol. 8 (8)., article 5.Accessed via: https://hbr.org/2019/02/the-3-elements-of-trust.
Zenger, J., Folkman, J. (2019). The 3 Elements of Trust.Harvard Business Review.Accessed via: https://hbr.org/2019/02/the-3-elements-of-trust.
Teaching English ‘the Greek way’
Learning a foreign language like English, which is based on the alphabetic system, is easy for students whose mother tongue is also an alphabetic one like Greek. Since words of Greek origin are widely used in English, things are even better for Greek students.Moreover, both English and Greek are considered SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) languages, which, in terms of syntax, makes it easier for Greek learners of English to learn the language; that is why teaching syntax is of great significance.
In addition, the teaching of grammar rules in respect of use of tenses, prepositions, passive voice, causative form, prefixes and suffixes, the plural form and genitive where there are distinct differences between the two languages, is another major step to take. Once students learn these differences, it is much easier for them to put words in order and thus produce correct syntax and full sentences, while managing to translate in the right way.
Translation is not only an academic field but also a skill that should be taught and practiced from an early age, as in the long run it will help students with reading comprehension but most crucially with speaking and writing, not to mention that it will make listening more clear to them. Unfortunately in the last decades translation from English to Greek and vice versa has become an old-fashioned and isolated method to learn English, mainly due to the fact that it is never directly tested through English examinations with the exception of the English entry exam to Greek universities which was in practice for several years up to recently.
On top of that, all the more foreign language schools have adopted this no-translation and in reality non grammar/syntax learning method of English out of their need to see themselves as prestigious and thus more professional institutes to their current and potential students but this does not really do the trick.
Irrespective of the use of translation skills in exam formats and teaching trends, translation itself is the passport to success when it comes to learn English, as we may be keen to learn new vocabulary, expressions, the use of modal verbs etc. –forming sentences and having thorough understanding of their use is what really and mostly counts.
The correct use of syntax, grammar and translation makes the difference between a fair student, a good and a very good one, while the opposite would be as if playing a musical instrument without knowing the notes, where one may produce some music but there will always be many gaps and discord. This is why so many Greek students, when it comes to speaking or writing, feel less confident, getting cold feet and preferring to solve an MCQ or a transformation item, based on their mere knowledge of common rules their teachers so eagerly have taught them over the years.
In the same way, many students may pass an exam even at an advanced level but only a few will be able to use the language appropriately, through the combination of grammar, syntax and translation and thus command it, in comparison to those just holding a certificate which certifies nothing but their mere miming of grammar rules and vocabulary with no real practice. That is why we should all embody translation in our classes right from the beginning no matter the age or level of our students, starting with the correct learning of the English grammar and syntax firstly in comparison to their mother tongue which will accordingly lead them to develop better translation skills and thus improving themselves in the language. So, instead of teaching the English grammar and syntax solely in English do it in Greek!
Teaching English in English may provide you with some extra credits but does not necessarily make you a competent teacher, as your goal is to make the English language and its functions really and practically understood by your students. As for the speaking practice you may switch from English to Greek and vice versa during the whole class which will be surely more enjoyable and comprehensible for students making it easier for them to follow, not to mention that it will give initiative even to the weakest ones to speak and write with eagerness and joy.
All in all, learning English is like putting the pieces of a puzzle together step by step and building strong foundations from the very beginning. This will guarantee full command of the language, which in any other case would be like building castles in the sand.
• It’s as important to keep to a routine onlineas offline
• Get up and get dressed as if you are going out to work and keep to your lesson timetable as far as possible
• Start with general housekeeping stuff – ask your students how they are, give them key information about any changes, messages for parents, check they’ve done homework, ask if they have questions and do general group feedback on the previous lesson’s written work
• Establish procedure – in Zoom meeting settings click on ‘waiting room’ so that you can let the students in all at the same time or even speak to individuals before you speak to the whole class, asking students to mute themselves until you invite them to speak
• Make sure your materials are clear, in big enough fonts so everyone can read them and you have the right balance between too much and too little information
• Make your teaching as interactive as possible: use videos, audio files, screen sharing, quick polls, the ‘breakout rooms’ feature on Zoom to vary the pace of your online lessons and involve the students as much as possible.
• Add pace to the lesson by speeding up or slowing down the activities
• Take regular breaks (schedule in virtual coffee breaks with colleagues!) and consider if it’s more appropriate to do shorter lessons with more frequent breaks since working online requires different levels of concentration both for teacher and students. Distractions in the background make focus more challenging.
• Stay in contact with the students by email so you can collect written work. Get them to appoint a class representative to whom you can email the lesson invitations and deal with questions and updates
Source: TESOL International
The Influence of Teaching the Teachers
Supposing you hold the currently released ELT News issue, the present feature section must be of fervent interest to the readership.
Reasons for Prioritizing Lifelong Education and Skills Development
Through educating oneself, the ESL/EFL teacher accomplishes an influential multi- faceted effect:
- They essentially nurture their professional, educational development of their existent formal background education. The driving mentality of pursuing development in terms of studies and/ or profession (interfacing factors) is to refresh, revise and be able to employ formerly acquired knowledge. Teachers aspire to rethink, reframe their learning and teaching methodology and update their approaches.
- Through constantly bringing themselves to the L2 Learner’s position- literally but mainly symbolically-they augment their real-classroom perception and responsiveness, which are deemed integral to the overall teacher’s performance.
- In other terms, life-long learning conduces to the teacher’s moral and mental development.
- The law of eternal change permeates education and its entire means (human and material) in a progressive and imperceptible way.
- Life-long learning could be considered as a collective contribution, as further progress influences both the student body and the teaching community as a whole.
Therefore, it is not a personal endeavor that would only benefit the trainee.
By Marina Siskos
If we deliberate a school of the 1920s, we are decisively aware that it is conspicuously different from an equivalent institution of our age: though, it might be tough to define the individual ways and areas that constitute this difference.
The inherent repetitiveness of teaching imperils of its quality:
“Automation bias” is a definition referring to the kind of faults that our minds commit as a consequence of the automated completion of (in the specific case) the ESL/EFL duties.
A very oxymorous notion, if one takes under consideration the sensitively person-centered approach every aspect of teaching entails.
“Automation bias”, a relatively fresh concept, describes a particular class of errors that a professional might perpetrate in a highly automated environment.
ESL/EFL teachers’ schedule includes more than switching classrooms and reproducing the distributed lesson plan, though.
For the sake of precision, teaching in general, translates into
- possessing and exercising the well-versed skills of grading papers and language comprehension and production- a skill demanding special training,
- Decision-making,normally under pressure is a skill to thrive via practice and training,
- Business management,for a respected population of freelance ESL/EFL teachers,
- Time and resources management, arranging and allocating ΜΑmaterials and tasks.
To name some more,
- Administrative workis also required under the teaching practice,
- Fundamentals of student and parent psychology,
- Conflict resolution, the ability to address clashing factors in the workplace and within the learning community.
The above enumerated acquired skills are anticipated to be implemented without inflicting commotion, but they are to be effectuated discreetly and effortlessly.
Instructors of the English language in Greece come from heterogeneous educational backgrounds, so it is almost a rarity to find common points of reference, unless they are committed to professional development regiment.
ESL/EFL teachers constitute a very disparate field. Instructors of the English language in Greece come from heterogeneous educational backgrounds, so it is almost a rarity to find common points of reference, unless they are committed to a professional development regiment. Teaching and its consequential duties are dynamic in their nature. As society changes, the ecology of education is met with different needs and expectations.
Life-long learning and professional development means and activities
There exists a satisfactory range of means and methods for teachers’ life-long learning and development.
Books: Cambridge University Press, Oxford University Press, Pearson, etc have released some of the most indispensable books on the subjects of second language acquisition workings, teaching principles and methodologies which are perpetually studied and referenced.
Providentially, one can find a variety of e-books, e-texts, insightful journals, scrutinizing the respective sites of the ESL/EFL established publishing houses.
The ELT News magazine, as the unique print medium, addresses the current affairs of the ESL/EFL and it has been hosting prescient content, managing to formulate a common frame of reference for the ESL/EFL professionals for the last 30 years.
Content and activities of value have managed to upgrade the domain of teaching English in Greece.
Online print media:
The propagation of the online print media has brought several worthy media within everyone’s reach.
The EFL magazine, https://www.efl.magazine.com, provides an interesting range of content and perspectives, bringing together voices of ESL/EFL from around the globe.
The Baan Dek, https://baandek.org/, is an online medium that discusses methods, approaches and principles of the Montessori approach and recommendations of incorporating them into the classroom.
It mainly reaches out to the Montessori advocates, though not exclusively.
The ADDitude magazine, https://www.additude.com/ majorly of clinical educative content, apart from hosting in-depth articles and reviews that are composed by health professional and clinical educators, psychologists and physicians, it also offers an insightful range of free webinars which can be attended upon demand, suiting anyone’s availability.
Finally, it contributes valuable resources for further study and examination.
Educative Seminars, Thematic Conferences:
Educative, advisory, awareness-raising events are frequently organized and upheld by University Faculties, in particular by the Department of English Language and Literature of the Aristotle University (https://www.auth.gr/) and the respective department of the National and Kapodistrian University (https://en.uoa.gr/) and the department of Translation and Interpreting of the Ionian University (https://ionio.gr/en/) .
The ELT News magazine organizes and carries out seminars and events, touching upon teaching and teacher-related issues, and TESOL
IATEFL (the International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language).
The Hellenic-American Union hdelivers examination-centered seminars designed for ESL/EFL teachers in an effort to corroborate the preparation procedure for the Michigan University English exams. Upon visiting the site of the HAU, http://www.hau.gr/ one could enroll to the seminars of their interest, either with physical presence or by distant learning.
The most highly pursued seminars are offered free of charge.
The British Council holds seminars and webinars discussing topics that regard the examination procedure and general issues on teaching, learning, grading and assessing L2 learners.
The YouTube Channel of Cambridge Teaching English archives the recorded webinars and presentations, so that interested teachers could attend in their convenience: https://www.youtube.com/user/cambridgeenglishtv/featured.
The above entities and institutions compose the leading forces in EFL education and promotion of teachers’ development.
Furthermore, many established publishing houses hold intriguing and frequently qualitative events and presentations.
As regards distance learning, the ESL/EFL audience is fortunate to have the opportunity to attend courses delivered by eminent universities via the Ed.x: https://www.edx.org/, wherein one could decide and select among a spectrum of fields and courses.
A respectable amount of these courses are free of charge, but there also exists the option being examined on the course and obtain a certificate.
Which is the appropriate time to pursue professional development?
It is a very personal issue to be resolved with a universal response.
Rather, it would suffice to stress that free will, personal discretion, work -family balance are the major defining criteria of the ideal time to start a teacher development course.
Therefore, the time could vary, with someone seizing a gap year, a dry spell in their business or a maternity leave that might feel unproductive in terms of professional development.
Any time is appropriate, though it would be advisable to make provisions and operate proactively as much as possible, i.e. before any decline or corrosion makes its appearance to the quality of teaching and the overall performance.
It is judicious, as the element of obligation and external pressure can deprive the very essence of the educative procedure.
Fields of interest
Some of the topics of examination, fields of study that are on high demand (probably in tandem with societal changes, adjustments new- arising needs) are:
Interactive Teaching Methology, following the necessity to harness and utilize the technology and digital tools by keeping the human-centered approach in teaching.
Teachers’ Training on Dyslexia and ADHD.
The natural adaptation of ESL/EFL teaching to L2 learners with dyslexia, ADHD and the autism spectrum have caught teaching professionals underprepared in terms of knowledge, means and appropriate equipment.
Partly this might be reasoned as a consequence of the terra incognita that learning difficulties comprise even to the clinical and the specialized professionals, coupled with the learning difficulties and cognitive challenges evasive nature.
Teaching and learning in heterogeneous L2 environment.
Communicative Approach to Teaching and Developing L2 Grammar.
Teaching in multicultural L2 environment and integrative approach.
Instead of a conclusive remark, the following disclaimer might turn out to be applicable.
We need to anchor our expectations as regards life-long learning and teacher development.
Conferences, seminars, contributions of academic interest and vocational skills serve towards the end of upgrading theoretical knowledge, implementing university education, enriching perspective and acquiring purposive equipment.
They render no substitute of formal tertiary education, as they are complementary and not supplementary by default.
Upon participating or attending any event of educational content we are responsible to verify its authenticity (both of the event and the organizing body).
The cause of this need is that any incidental attendance of any event of questionable authority might end up being pernicious to both the teachers’ valuable time and effort and their finances. •