to the Learners: The Role of the Learner Diary in RSA/UCLES
CTEFLA Teaching Practice
learners play an essential role in creating an authentic teaching
practice encounter. Their voices can be heard through the
medium of the learner diary which in turn helps the Teaching
Practice (TP) Tutor to employ a flexible syllabus and one
that is sensitive to ongoing evaluation. Learner diaries provide
an important part of the ongoing evaluation which such a syllabus
requires. The TP Tutor can also receive ongoing evaluation
of the syllabus from the trainee teachers and his/her own
observations. However, I shall argue that listening to the
learners is an area which has not received enough attention
on UCLES CTEFLA programmes and shall illustrate my claim that
learner diaries are a powerful tool through the use of a case
this article I intend to focus on the teaching practice (TP)
component of the UCLES CTEFI.A (Certificate In the Teaching
of English As a Foreign Language To Adults). I shall begin
by briefly discussing what the CTEFLA is and then move on
to describe the Teaching Practice (TP) encounter. It will
be shown that the TP tutor can play an essential role as syllabus
designer in ensuring the smooth running of TP provided s/he
is prepared to accept ongoing evaluation of the syllabus not
only from the trainee teachers but also from the language
shall argue that for everybody to gain maximum benefit from
the Teaching Practice encounter the TI' tutor should employ
a Process syllabus: "the Process syllabus provides the framework
within which a predesigned content syllabus would be publicly
analysed and evaluated by the classroom group. (Breen 1984:55)
learners' needs are considered by the TP tutor, but on the
basis of the Tutor's speculation and intuition. By using learner
diaries, the TP Tutor can actually begin to hear the learners'
voices and, equally important, so can the trainee teachers.
It can be too easy to focus on the trainees' needs more than
the learners' needs in a microteaching situation. However,
this is erroneous as the more the learners are listened to,
the more the trainees are likely to experience a genuinely
effective teaching encounter. Furthermore, the trainees need
to be shown how important it is to listen to the learners.
This can only he achieved if the TAP tutor views the learners
as individuals, and not "guinea pigs" receiving free classes,
when designing and conducting a Teaching Practice Programme.
the CTEFLA is
CTEFLA is a form of initial teacher training in TEFL. The
scheme aims mainly to provide pre-service training in EFL
teaching and is intended for those who wish to enter the profession
and for those teachers who have no previous training in this
particular field. Trainees should be at least 20 years old;
have a good standard of education (e.g. University Matriculation
Standard); and have a standard of English, both written and
spoken, equivalent to that of an educated speaker for whom
English is a first language. Assessment is carried out on
a continuous basis and trainees are evaluated by the Course
Tutors on written assignments and their participation and
performance in both the input sessions and teaching practice.
(UCLES CTEFLA Syllabus 1990/1:1-9)
teaching practice encounter
order to comply with UCLES stipulations each trainee is required
to fulfil a minimum of 6 hours supervised practice teaching
observed by the TP Tutor. "Micro-teaching using foreign students
is included in practice teaching." (UCLES CTEFLA Syllabus
a microteaching situation the TP Tutor normally provides the
trainee teachers with a brief (TP points) of what to teach.
These TP points are, in effect, statements of the syllabus
content. The trainees teach, following the TP points, and
start off by teaching short slots.
of the problems facing the learners is that they are being
taught by inexperienced, untrained teachers and this can cause
learners to feel insecure. Classes on courses like this are
normally offered free to the learners. Such factors can sometimes
affect learners' motivation and if they feel their needs are
not being met or that they are not making progress then attendance
attendance on the learners' part rapidly becomes the TP Tutor's
problem as it is impossible to have TP without learners. Furthermore.
UCLES is very strict on this point: "Such classes should contain
no fewer than 10 adult students." (UCLES CTEFLA Syllabus 1990/91:5.2
TP tutor as syllabus designer
problems outlined above can, to a great extent, be solved
by the TP Tutor playing an active role in employing a process
syllabus with regard to the programme of classes the trainees
teach the learners.
would argue that what is necessary is for there to be dialogue
between the trainees and the TP Tutor over what direction
the TP course is going in or should be going in. Such dialogue
is necessary as the TP Tutor is the most qualified and should
design the course, but the actual teaching will be done by
is ample opportunity for dialogue between TP Tutor and trainees
especially as after TP, oral feedback takes place.
vehicle fur dialogue between trainees and TP Tutor is provided
through the trainees' writing of TP logs. The use of such
logs has been described by Scott Thornbury. (Thornbury 1991).
TP Tutor, who initially reads the TP logs after each feedback
session in his/her role of evaluator of trainee performance.
can also read them in his/her role of Syllabus Designer and
thus receive feedback him/herself from the trainees.
TP Tutor, as Syllabus designer, has also to consider the role
of the learners. Learners are central to any authentic teaching
experience but all too often their voices are not well represented
in TP encounters. Strategies need to be built into the syllabus
which allow for the TI' Tutor and the trainees to receive
information on how the learners themselves feel about the
course and what areas they feel they need to work on. One
of the best ways to provide for this is by having each learner
write a learner diary during the course. (Budd and Wright
page 2 of 3
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