Part 3: Quality and quality assurance

12. ESOL teacher training

12.1 ESOL students need to develop many language skills including pronunciation, speaking, listening, learning new vocabulary and understanding and using the grammar and syntax. Some may also need to develop their basic literacy and study skills alongside their language development. However many of the assumptions on which basic skills teaching is based are not true of ESOL. Basic skills students often have histories of failure at school and of non-promotion at work, or exclusion from the workforce because of their literacy/numeracy problems. ESOL students, particularly those from refugee groups, may have high level academic and professional skills but these have been acquired using another language. These students may need to orient themselves to the world of work in the UK but fundamentally need only to improve their language skills, and perhaps, update their professional skills. Younger learners will need sympathetic careers advice and counselling, as they may have no idea of the range of job opportunities in a western market economy.

12.2 To reflect these different needs, ESOL teacher training needs to be different from basic skills teacher training. Teachers working with ESOL students need to use a combination of English Language Teaching (ELT) and basic skills teaching and there are often close links with the teaching of EFL and Modern Languages.

12.3 The new FENTO standards in teacher training call for two separate strands of training. The first relates how to teach skills (learning styles, classroom management, syllabus design etc): the teaching standards for all subjects. It will include for all teachers an awareness of basic literacy, numeracy and ESOL issues and a degree of expertise in dealing with them. The second strand relates to specific curriculum knowledge. Qualifications incorporating both strands of training would be available at initial, certificate and diploma levels.

12.4 Most new further and adult education staff will come with the specialised expertise in their subject area (secretarial skills, lip-reading, navigation, car maintenance etc.). However new ESOL teachers will generally require training in specialised language teaching techniques. This would include:

  • linguistics;

  • pronunciation and intonation;

  • English grammar (e.g. subject verb agreement, verb tenses used in conditional sentences, collocations);

  • theory and practice of teaching literacy skills;

  • cultural /racial awareness.

12.5 There is a very well-developed teaching methodology relevant to this area which includes teaching all four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing) and draws upon specifically developed ESOL materials. This teaching methodology also encompasses those ESOL teachers may need to develop higher level skills in the theory of language to cope with the wide academic range of ESOL learners.

12.6 Current ESOL teachers will need immediate training on the new standards and curriculum and, in the longer term, a programme of in service training to ensure that they have the skills they need and are familiar with the latest good practice in teaching. This training should draw on the experience of ESOL teaching practice in other countries and relevant lessons learnt from the teaching of EAL in schools.

12.7 In addition, there is a need to train teachers in language support techniques, including the analysis of subject-based language requirements and team-teaching strategies.

12.8 The view of this group is that there must be a clear career pathway, with a specialist curriculum for training in teaching ESOL, developed in parallel with the work FENTO are undertaking for new entrants to basic skills and special learning difficulties and disabilities teaching and in collaboration with ESOL and ELT specialists. It needs to include training for both discrete ESOL classes and for language support in academic and vocational areas. This would be in addition to the 'generic' teaching standards for FE being developed by FENTO. Discussion of all these issues should be initiated by FENTO and include the other relevant training organisations, particularly PAULO, the National Training Organisation which is responsible for those who work in community based education and training organisations, and ENTO for trainers in the workplace

12.9 This should offer a career progression route for new entrants to the profession including:

  • initial or volunteer training (the latter for those who do not want to become teachers in their own right);

  • in-service training at Certificate level. This would be the usual level of qualification on appointment, or within a specified time after appointment;

  • diploma level training for those wishing to deepen their understanding of the profession or apply for promoted posts.

Where training is located in University Education Departments, it will need to draw on expertise within the profession in FE and AE.

12.10 In addition, the links between diploma level course and masters courses should be explored, so that Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning (APEL) can be given on masters courses for relevant previous achievement.

Recommendation 9: Teacher Training

a) DfEE should commission FENTO, together with ESOL specialists, to develop additional teaching standards and an initial training and qualifications framework for new entrants to ESOL teaching.

b) Within the 'generic' training for all teachers, there should be a recognition that teaching should be inclusive; awareness of the needs of bilingual students, including the ability to work with language support students, should be included.

c) The links between diploma level course and masters courses should be explored, so that Accreditation of Prior Experience and Learning (APEL) can be given on masters courses for relevant qualifications and/or experience at masters level.

d) DfEE should commission the development and delivery of a programme of intensive training and support materials for ESOL teachers, based on the new curriculum. This training should be delivered to all ESOL teachers who work more than 6 hours per week by the end of 2001.

e) By 2005 all teachers on ESOL courses funded by the LSC should be appropriately trained and qualified.

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