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Is it a Challenge Teaching English to Students in Vocational Schools? by Marjorie Rosenberg
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With the latest training module at the Berufspädagogische Akademie in Graz, we instituted several changes. Our team consists of teachers who concentrate on language skills, teachers who concentrate on methodology and mentors who support teachers in preparing and holding lessons in the classroom. We have always conducted the training modules by making use of interactive and hands-on activities and methodology. In the didactic part of the module, we still train teachers to teach the traditional four skills of speaking, listening, writing and reading but we have added a new twist to this material. Each of the four skills is now being taught by first addressing the different learning styles and looking at the various models we have at hand. In the first week, we worked on speaking activities regarded from the point of view of visual, auditory and kinesthetic activities. The teachers had the chance to discover their own specific style based on research in the field of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and developed by Richard Bandler, John Grinder, Michael Grinder and Robert Dilts. This model is based primarily on whether we perceive, process, store and recall information in a visual, auditory or kinesthetic manner. In addition, the teachers tried out different activities which took these learning styles into account and discovered how to present the same subject matter in different ways for different types of learners.

We have four more week-long modules over the next two years and will be focusing on listening, reading, writing and the integration of the four skills using a different learning style model (including appropriate assessments) each time. We plan to cover the differences in cognitive thinking (global and analytic styles) based on the research of Herman Witkin, the perception and ordering of information (mind organization) based on the research of David Kolb and Anthony Gregorc, and the multiple intelligences based on the research of Howard Gardner.

The goal for those of us training teachers at the BPA is to offer our teachers more possibilities to help them reaching their students. We hope that this will increase student motivation which in turn increases teacher motivation. With this self-perpetrating Alearning circle@, the ultimate goal is to improve both the working atmosphere for the teachers and students and ultimately and help them to become the most effective teachers that they can be which is then reflected in the success of their students.

I would like to thank Gabriele Pocivalnik, Dorli Fink, Elisabeth Gaber and Tanja Matjasic for taking the time to fill in my questionnaire.

Biodata

Marjorie Rosenberg is an instructor of English at the Pädagogische Akademie des Bundes in der Steiermark. Marjorie also works as a free-lance language trainer for various companies and for the state government of Styria, Austria and a free-lance NLP trainer for both teachers and business people. She is an active presenter and has given talks and workshops on NLP, Cooperative Learning and Learning Styles at conferences in Europe and Canada. In addition, she contributes to various ELT and educational journals. Her book 'Communicative Business Activities' which uses an NLP approach to teaching business English, came out in autumn 2001 and she is currently working in an international team to create a new English text book for the Austrian school system.

Marjore

Marjorie Rosenberg can be reached at:
Petersgasse 86/4
A-8010Graz, Austria

Tel and Fax:
+43 316/ 473499

mrosenberg@aon.at

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