to the Learners: The Role of the Learner Diary in RSA/UCLES
CTEFLA Teaching Practice
by Henny Burke
three and four
to TP changeover the learners had a new group of teachers
in the third and fourth week. I continued to plan the classes
in the third week using the same criteria as I had employed
in the first two weeks: using my own perception of what the
trainees and learners needed and confirming or rejecting my
perceptions from the information I received in feedback sessions,
from the TI' logs and the learner diaries. As many learners
seemed to have problems using the definite article in their
learner diaries, I programmed a slot on the definite article
in the third week. It seemed to confuse more than clarify: "The lesson about the definite article has been very interesting
to me, but I still do not understand the rules, sometimes
I could find more than one rule to fit the example or may
be none, so that means I don't understand them too well." (Elena Learner Diary Day Seven Aug 18)
In the fourth week the trainees took over the timetabling
themselves and began to teach 55 minutes classes. I was there
to be consulted and give ideas and advice but essentially
the trainees themselves took over the planning.
me the most interesting aspect of the third and fourth week
was in the changeover of TI' group. At first it seemed quite
smooth: "Although the teachers have changed the way to deal
the class is very similar and I have a good time doing the
exercises and playing the games." (Pepa Learner Diary Day
Seven Aug 18)
some problems did begin to creep in as some of the trainees
seemed very keen on drilling. They had been doing a lot of
drilling with the Beginner group they had been with and obviously
enjoyed it. Not all the Upper Intermediate learners really
took to it or felt they needed it: "The two new expressions
we saw today were unknown to me; "It's time..." and "You'd
better..." very interesting, but I think, that, to learn how
to use the expressions it is better to do some exercises instead
of repeat the sentences one after the other." (Elena Learner
Diary Day Twelve Aug 19)
problem that became apparent in the last week of the course
was that learners do not always want to do the activities
that teachers want them to do. One of the trainees informed
me in a feedback session that he had used the break to ask
one of the learners why she was being negative in the class.
I found this very worrying and we spent a long time discussing
whether the problem was one of negativity or not.
again the learner diaries proved useful as in her overall
evaluation the learner in question included the following: "Sometimes I was in trouble trying to defend a role in the
exercise we were doing, it is almost impossible for me to
do something against my ideas or principles, and in some topics
I had to guess or invent a position I didn't like at all,
that may mean to you that I'm not cooperating with the class,
but that is not the way it is.
some complaints about not doing some of the activities you
want us to do, I have to say that you must understand that
we may feel uncomfortable doing them and prefer if people
don't push me to do what I don't like to." (Elena Learner
Diary Day Seventeen Aug 26)
I normally left the trainees to write back to the learners,
I chose to write back to Elena myself in her diary and assure
her that I felt she had always been one of the most helpful
learners in the group, which she had been. I also made the
following point: "Some activities that seem "great" to teachers
are not so "great" for students. That's one reason why learner
diaries are so good because it gives an opportunity for student
and teacher to enter into a constructive dialogue about what
is actually happening in the class." (Henny Day Seventeen
TP syllabus design involves not only dialogue between the
trainees and TP Tutor in the form of oral feedback and TI'
logs, but also dialogue between the learners, trainees arid
TP Tutor through the medium of the learner diary. Furthermore,
involving the trainee teachers in the syllabus design by making
them aware of the criteria the TI' Tutor is employing not
only shows the trainees how valuable a process syllabus can
be, but also provides loop input (Woodward 1991) as the trainees
themselves experience what it feels like to listen to and
be listened to.
M. 1984 "Process Syllabuses For The Language Classroom" in
General English Syllabus Design, ELT Documents 118. British
Council 1984 (ed. Brumfit. CI.) Pergamon Press
R. Wright, T. 1992 "Putting a Process Syllabus Into Practice" in D. Nunan (ed) Collaborative Language Learning and Teaching.
Cambridge: CUP: 208-229.
G. Sinclair. 6. 1989 "Learning To Learn English: A Course
In Learner Training" Cambridge. CUP.
S. 1991 "Watching The Whites Of Their Eyes: The Use Of Teaching
- Practice logs" El .T Journal 45/2:140-146.
University of Cambridge local Examinations Syndicate International
Examinations, Certificate In The Teaching Of English As A
Foreign Language To Adults. Syllabus And List Of Centres (UK
and Overseas) 1990/91.
R. 1988 "The ELT Curriculum: Design. Innovation And Management" Oxford Basil Blackwell Ltd.
T. 1991 "Models and Metaphors in Language Teaching: Loop Input
and Other Strategies" Cambridge. CUP.
Burke is Co-Director of Studies at the British Language
Centre, Madrid. Spain. She works as a teacher and a teacher
trainer on inservice programmes, RSA/UCLES CTEFLA/CELTA
and DTEFLA/DELTA courses. She has completed the Aston
University MSc. course in Teaching English & is currently
involved in coursebook writing for Cambridge University
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