Questions / Reflections

Contextualizing courses: part II

Contextualizing the courses

part 2

This is the second part of our discussion about Contextualizing courses. Here you can read the first part.

One belief I have is: A good teacher training course is contextualized, tailored to the participants’ needs, and personalized where possible. Let me share what I see a course involves (below is a list I started, by no means exhaustive)

[A] learning about the course participants as much as possible, including such things as their L1, ways they are learning L2 (or L3 if applicable), education system and goals in their country, their major in college, teaching experience where applicable, the experience of taking other teacher training courses, etc.

[B] creating demo lessons and input sessions with as many local examples as possible (and helping the participants on the course to do the same to their students) By ‘local’ in this case I mean coming from the organization where the course takes place, and / or the country where the participants come from, and / or the city, etc.

[C] using the materials available locally, including course books used in the actual lessons, authentic materials, fairy-tales, local news pieces, etc.

[D]modifying the overall course plan based on the questions the participants ask or the challenges they face

[E] learning the Why (or the needs of the participants, understanding the reason they are taking the course and the next steps after the course) – and again, modifying the course content accordingly

[F] tweaking an idea / technique / activity to suit a participant’s unique teaching style (and helping to be aware that there is a variety of learning styles)

[G] …

What else can be done to contextualize our courses and maximize our participants’ learning? Is it a good idea to sometimes do something out of their context? Or the ‘opposite’? Why, or why not?

I think I still have more questions than answers … 🙂

A Post Script note:

I myself took a ‘typical’ international teacher training course in a language school in Kiev in 1999, run by a British and Australian team of tutors. I was really proud of that, moreover, I got a job in a private language school because I had ‘the Certificate’, as it was referred to at that time.

On reflection now, the course was not specifically contextualized or modified for the former Soviet Union counries; it was a kind of ‘standard’ TESOL course after which in theory you can go and teach in any culture in the world.

At the same time, I should say that that course did open many doors for me (in my native city) mostly because it was out of the local context and could broaden the horizons of its participants! What I still find important is that to help someone ‘think outside the box’ you [trainer] still need to know what is inside that box!

posted by Zhenya

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