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Investigación & Desarrollo

versión On-line ISSN 2518-4431

Inv. y Des. vol.2 no.14 Cochabamba  2014

 

ARTÍCULOS – INGENIERÍAS 

 

DEVELOPMENT IMPETUS FOR TESOL PRACTITIONERS: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE AND RECOMMENDATIONS FOR ANDRAGOGICAL FRAMEWORKS

 

IMPULSO PARA EL DESARROLLO DE PROFESIONALES TESOL: UNA REVISIÓN DE LA LITERATURA Y RECOMENDACIONES PARA MARCOS ANDRAGÓGICOS

 

 

Jesse Jones Richter[1]

cdintl@outlook.com

(Recibido el 07 de septiembre 2014, aceptado para publicación el 03 de noviembre 2014)

 

 


ABSTRACT

This review of the literature acknowledges and describes current states of training amongst professional members of the global English language learning industry. Particular attention is given to the design and implementation of professional development programs for English language instructors in order to inform the harvest of qualitative data from an Action Research project at Kyungpook National University in Daegu, South Korea. Three brief case studies of Jordan, Colombia and South Korea serve to ground research inquires across world regions. Findings suggest a need for stronger in-service professional development training programs, more culturally-responsive programmatic orientations, and more formalized training curricula. Finally, this paper articulates recommendations for developing an improved andragogical framework which may then be adopted across schools and cultures.

Keywords: Professional Development, English Language, TESOL, Action Research, Pedagogy, Andragogy, South Korea, Globalization


RESUMEN

Esta revisión de la literatura reconoce y describe los estados actuales de la formación entre los miembros profesionales de la industria global de aprendizaje del idioma Inglés. Con especial atención en el diseño y ejecución de programas de desarrollo profesional para profesores de idiomas Inglés con el fin de informar sobre el producto de  datos cualitativos de un proyecto de Investigación-Acción en la Universidad Nacional de Kyungpook en Daegu, Corea del Sur. Tres estudios de casos breves de Jordania, Colombia y Corea del Sur sirven para conectar a tierra a través de consultas de investigación en regiones del mundo. Los hallazgos sugieren la necesidad de programas más fuertes en el servicio profesional de formación de desarrollo, orientaciones programáticas culturalmente más sensibles, y programas de formación más formales. Por último, este documento articula recomendaciones para el desarrollo de un marcoandragógico mejorado, que luego puede ser adoptado a través de las escuelas y culturas.

Palabras Clave: Desarrollo Profesional, Idioma Inglés, TESOL, Investigación-Acción, Pedagogía, Andrología, Corea del Sur, Globalización.


 

 

1.     INTRODUCTION

A distinguishing characteristic of the notion of teaching as profession is the centrality of career growth as an ongoing goal. –Pennington [1, pp. 132]

Studies in language have never been more relevant. Local and global markets alike have adopted English as their default medium for communication and commerce. Language learning was once an academic novelty confined within the walls of universities; today, trends in globalization have pushed English language learning outside of these walls and into business departments, private organizations and technical institutes. English language learning has become its own seemingly limitless industryoperating actively in every region of the world.

Lewis, et al. [2] cites Chinese as the largest language family as measured by the number of native speakers at 1.2 billion worldwide while Spanish falls in a far-behind second place at 414 million speakers and English in a close third place at 335 million. Hindi is represented by 260 million speakers and Arabic is carried by 237 million. However, as measured by numbers of countries hosting first-language users, English is perched on the top at 99 countries while Arabic follows at 60, French comes in third at 51, and Chinese tails with 33 nations. Of interesting note, the United Kingdom—the mother region of English and one of the most developed regions in the world—is cited as having 13 living languages currently; Papua New Guinea ranks highest in living language density and diversity at 838; the United States falls in the middle at 215. This may suggest various correlations between the a) age of a country, b) the socioeconomic development of a country, and c) the linguistic diversity of a country, amongst other parameters. This is one point recommended for further research.

In response to the ongoing spread of English and its necessity for international business processes, the global English language industry (GELI) has exploded. Before the twentieth century, English language learning was largely confined as mere academic interest or leisure activity, such as were studies in Latin and Greek. Periods of conflict also stimulated the spread of English—the necessity to communicate across language barriers during wartimes was realized as an invaluable strategic advantage. Following the Industrial Revolution and the development of other key technologies such as aviation, telecommunications, and, eventually, the Internet, commerce across borders became increasingly important for a world being born into a new era of international communication. Literary texts were translated into English from the great European dialects; organizations matured from regional and national scales to those at international and multinational levels; the formal study and development of International Business (IB) came to fruition. The evolution of international bodies such as the Olympics, the United Nations, and the Norwegian Nobel Institute were prime impetuses for the maintenance and perpetuation of the English language. The TESOL International Association held its pilot meeting on 12 September 1963 and, half a century later, has now become one of the most significant sanctioning organizations of English as a multi-functional, cross-border tool in addition to sparking a new generation of academic journalism and international conferencing.

 

2.     THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

A review of the literature illuminates the need for further development of existing training programs [3], [4], [5], [6],[7],[8], as well as targeted, culturally-responsive designs for future continuous professional development (CPD) programs [7], [8]). Freeman [9] emphasizes the importance of context-based (i.e. culturally-responsive) development: “How you do it, with whom, and for what reasons, are all also shaped by where you do it” [9, pp. 28]. It has been observed on part of the researcher that CPD programs may have either general characteristics of rigor (i.e. standardized formatting) or a focus on a local population (i.e. cultural responsiveness) but seldom are both elements available for practicing instructors who wish (or are required) to improve their pedagogical skills. It is further recognized that there are strong correlations between the quantity and quality of teacher training programs and the subsequent ability of those teachers to manage common practitioner challenges [8], [10], [11], [12], [13],[14].

 

3.     INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS FOR INTERNATIONAL TEACHERS

As with most professional training, certification or credentialing programs, there exists certain appropriateness to also regulate the English language industry. Since the inception of the industry around the middle of the twentieth century, ELT organizations—in their many forms and unique business models—have only recently been placed under inspection for some sort of minimum, universally-recognized levels of content and quality. As with many emerging international industries (e.g. new channels of import and export), such phenomena are difficult to regulate in standardized, systemic fashions due to their rapid growth and organizational complexities. Who has the authority to regulate emerging international industries? What happens when the industry spans both local (i.e. ESL training) and foreign (i.e. EFL training) geographies? What about when that same industry includes a client base ranging from casual populations (i.e. young schoolchildren who are learning English for general communicational competence) to formal populations (i.e. business practitioners who require the language skills to work globally)? Despite the inherent complexity of GELI, some benchmarks have been established.

Arguably the most prominent stewards of the English language, UK-based institutions have set the stage for standard levels of quality and content for GELI training programs. A quick survey of GELI job vacancy positions posted on industry platforms (Table 2) indicates that most educational institutions seeking new faculty and faculty-administrators (e.g. Directors of Study) require TEFL, TESOL, ESOL, CELTA or even DELTA (being the highest recognized industry-specific credential) certification. Of these options, only CELTA, DELTA, and ESOL are firmly regulated (the former two by the University of Cambridge and the latter by Trinity College London) while the acronym TESOL may be either regulated (as a reference to the organization TESOL International, Inc.) or unregulated (as a mere description of any GELI certification offered by a number of organizations). Similarly, the acronym TEFL may be an organizational reference (e.g. the TEFL Professional Network) or a certificate label. It is important to note, moreover, that many accredited universities and colleges also offer TESOL or ESOL certificate and degree programs. Similarly, although slightly more generalized programmatically and amongst practitioners, many institutions of higher education also offer master level degree programs in applied linguistics; many GELI professionals commonly pass through these channels. The least understood, most unarticulated, and programmatically unstandardized acronyms are TESOL and TEFL. These terms do not have single, universally recognized governing bodies and thus exists as unregulated, unofficial levels of certification.

Although these acronyms have become tangled and are commonly used interchangeably, UK-based institutions have set the bar for an overall standard (albeit unofficial) programmatic structure; such a program will: be a residency program (as opposed to an online or correspondence program); require at least 120 contact (i.e. trainer-trainee) hours (or, commonly accepted, a minimum program length of 4 weeks of full-time intensive training); include an authentic (i.e. actual EFL students) teaching component, typically requiring exposure to at least two levels of language learners; and include at least six hours of observed teaching practice (OTP). These baseline criteria loosely mimic other recognized programs depending on world region and employer. Table 1 lists major GELI training providers according to their headquarters, longevity, and international presence. It may be noteworthy that the only American institution represented is also the youngest and most internationally recognized.

4.     GLOBALIZATION: TOWARDS A WORKING DEFINITION

Globalization is generally identified as the mechanism forcing the development of the English language industry. The term globalization is widely used in business, as well as everyday conversations. Commonly, globalization refers to advancing trends in technology, communication, transportation, and international business. However, a universal definition is elusive at best and nonexistent for most practical applications; inevitable obfuscation complicates these matters as an abstract globalization is awkwardly cited as a catch-all cause of certain phenomena and catch-all result of other phenomena.

Many researchers wearily avoid subscription to concise definitions of globalization; each author tends to compartmentalize the term according to the niche discipline of reference, and understandably so. “Globalisation is neither an ideology nor a set of outcomes, but a process. […] Globalisation is simply the logical extension of the tendency towards increasing specialisation and trade that has been going on throughout human history” [15,pp. 2]. From this vantage, it is clear to see that if we calibrate globalization according to human history processes, it is indeed an age-old phenomena. “From an economic point of view, I suggest to define globalization as the historical process of first liberalization and then progressive integration of the formerly somewhat isolated markets of capital, commodities and (with some delay and on a limited scale) labor into a single world market” [16,pp. 12]. This economic definition avoids the inherent relationships globalization has with other phenomena such as politics, conflicts, science, and medicine, to name a few. Lastly, Thomas [17, pp. 214] describes the phenomenon as “The breadth of contemporary scholarship on globalization processes illustrates that there is no simple or single picture of what constitutes globalization”. The term’s slippery nature is also addressed: “The reason [that the term ‘globalisation’ is elusive is obvious. Globalization needs to be viewed through different normative and theoretical lenses” [18,pp. 6]. The same authors continue to offer four differential definitions of the phenomenon: globalization as a historical epoch; globalization as confluence of economic phenomena; globalization as the hegemony of American values; and globalization as technological and social revolution. Indeed, it is difficult to separate or otherwise isolate the various components within the complex mélange of globalization; linguistics is no exception. It is clear to see that some languages emerge as dominants through distinct eras; it is similarly clear that globalization may be partly defined according to those linguistic trends. For purposes of this paper, the dominance of some languages over others in the present world—namely Chinese, Arabic, Hindi, Spanish and English—is used, in part, to define globalization as it relates to nearby phenomena such as business, politics, science, culture, and commerce.

 

5.     GLOBALIZATION AND LANGUAGE

Globalization and the use of English worldwide as phenomena are largely recognized as a real situation despite criticism about its exact nature and reality [19], [20],[21]. However, it may be seen clearly that international trading systems grow with time despite the exact interpretations of the terms globalization and world language. The GELI market has expanded into most corners of the planet and is largely dominated by well-established chain schools such as Berlitz, Kaplan, Teach Away, and English First, as well as umbrella organizations such as the Association of American Schools in South America and the China TEFL network. UK-based organizations, such as the British Council and, to a lesser degree of involvement, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) significantly co-manage the industry. Two well-established recruiters include Angelina’s ESL Café in China and the UK-based International Education Group. Fee-free sites such as Dave’s ESL Café, Total ESL, the TESOL International Association, and the TEFL Professional Network serve as job posting clearinghouses and platforms for employers and job-seekers to interface with each other. These and others are outlined in Table 2.

Universities have developed English language training programs for soon-to-be teachers with Cambridge University offering the most universally-recognized CELTA and DELTA programs. Trinity College London offers the Cert ESOL (certificate) and Dip ESOL (diploma) credentials, amongst other certifications. Due to their historical presence and institutional reputations, only a few key entities (TESOL International, Inc., the University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations department, Trinity College London, the International House World Organization, the and the British Council—refer to Table 1 which profiles these institutions) may be labeled as the founding institutions while the rest are descendants.

Countless smaller, unregulated institutions offer TEFL and TESOL certificates. These are sometimes recognized by employers as being legitimate qualifications for emerging teachers depending upon their rigor, structural similarity and content compatibility compared to regulated programs (i.e. those offered by Cambridge and Trinity). Illegitimate programs are offered through unrecognized organizations, which are often independent and unregulated and thus the integrity of their programs varies widely. A quick review of job vacancy postings on job boards indicates that employers typically only accept recognized certifications; a corollary to this is that employers seldom accept programs that were delivered online. Services for English language learners have emerged as well; the IELTS and TOEFL examinations—currently the only universally recognized assessments—attempt to measure the relative level of fluency for students seeking personal inquiry or admission to schools and jobs in English-speaking institutions. In addition to all of these networking agencies, further iterations of English language support organizations have become established in the EL market. Australian-based companies such as the New South Wales College in Sydney and Language Training Institute in Nambour offer a multitude of services for instructors, curriculum developers, consultants and clients (language learners) within the GELI market. Companies such as these operate internationally with small contracts and projects.

 

6.     TRAINING: PRE-SERVICE VERSUS IN-SERVICE

The various teacher training programs and certification processes mentioned above are designed to serve prospective practitioners. Typically offering two, three, or four main components—language awareness training, and/or language acquisition theory, and/or instructional methods, and/or assessment strategies—these short, intensive residency-based programs facilitate the transition into classrooms for individuals who possess little or no previous experience or training as language educators. A review of the literature, combined with generalized online searches, reveals only one internationally recognized in-service (professional development) courses for active practitioners which is the ICELT from Cambridge. As an example, the need for more culturally-responsive post-method teacher training in Colombia is reported in Moncada [7]. In this paper, the Cambridge ICELT model is mentioned as being sanctioned by the Ministry of Education’s Colombia Bilingüe program; yet it is a generalized model that is often disregarded as a result of local schools holding a preference for local, internally-developed CPD models. In-service programs tend to be locally-developed, highly culturally and geopolitically specific, yet often lacking sound pedagogical integrity compared with more established efforts such as the internationally-recognized pre-service programs. The central aim of this study is to address this issue: what are the characteristics and programmatic components of a generalized, yet culturally-responsive in-service training program for international English language professionals?

 

7.     EPISTEMOLOGY: IN-SERVICE PROGRAMS PAST AND PRESENT

Value conceptions of in-service training programs have been different between instructors and teachers; teacher-trainers seek reform and encourage teachers to embrace training opportunities; teachers tend to be satisfied with the programs, but lack motivation to attend [22]. Discussion about research from the 1990s comes from the same report: EFL teachers were unprepared to deal with culturally diverse classrooms; they did not find trainings to be helpful; they reported that appropriate EFL practices are difficult to implement, even for trained EFL teachers.

Preliminary awareness of the philosophy of language learning theories is necessary. “All TESOL preparatory programs must first expose pre-service teachers to the notion that there are competing epistemological frameworks surrounding them. They need to be able to read critically and identify these frameworks”, [23, pp. 446]. Brown [23]argues that a World English component should be part of TESOL training, that training should come from more than just American or European ideals, and that EFL teaching philosophies are influenced by who is perceived as being the owner of English.

Once students begin to understand there are no neutral language learning theories, language methodology theories, nor world English theories, it then becomes possible for them to step into Pratt’s Contact Zone and learn from each of these scholars and begin to identify their own Weltanschauung (worldview). [23, pp. 447]

This is further grounded with Creswell’s [24] concepts of worldview and paradigm theory: that a worldview is “[…] a general orientation about the world and the nature of research that a researcher holds” [24, pp. 6]. Unlike post-positivist worldviews, which are theory-driven, Creswell’s [24] social constructivist worldview positions the development of a theory within the context of an experiential phenomena whereby the researcher makes co-observations along with other members of a population. Creswell’s Four Worldviews are presented in Table 3.

It is thus prudent for GELI professionals to consider the epistemological context of their work and the implications of their pre-service and in-service training upon those practices. Nonetheless, the backgrounds and experiences and practitioners influences the development and delivery of curricula; “When professional language educators who have been exposed to a wide variety of perspectives participate in the assessment of the [classroom] material, it is more likely that world Englishes perspectives will be brought in” [23, pp. 447].

Carter [25] offers a teacher training program that emphasizes self-reflection as an avenue to critically analyze how one’s inner beliefs affect their adoption of attitudes about teaching. Trainees are required to keep a running journal. Trainees generally dislike—or find little practical value—in the idea of having to keep a journal at the start of a CPD course, but tend to like it afterwards. “For the most part the teacher learners are not yet engaged in EFL teaching so the journal reflections do no pertain as much to the act of teaching as to the act of learning to be an EFL practitioner. Yet, the intimate link between teaching and learning means that understanding one often provides clues to understanding the other” [25, pp. 43]. This is an instance of a purpose of professional development: it is a component of the transition between learner and teacher such that when one does finally acquire the mindset of a professional educator, a new character emerges. This character now becomes an autonomous, self-driven individual who now is responsible not for the transmission of knowledge, but for the co-creation of knowledge with students. 

Teacher training programs have shifted from transmission-oriented to constructivist approaches whereby teacher learners focus on what they know versus what they actually do [22], [26], [27], [11]. Mackey [27] distinguishes this as method analysis v. teaching analysis: what is held as theory v. how the teachers actually deliver content to students. This is intimately connected with the discussion about approaches (how students learn; theory) relative to methods (how teachers teach; methodology). Mangubbai, et al. [28] provides an example concerning communicative approaches: the report concludes that teachers all around the world are encouraged to use CLT for language instruction, yet imbalances may be observed between what is discussed and what is done. Methods used in the study were unconventional; instead of traditional observations and questionnaires, teachers’ understandings of CLT were examined via interview (thus examining what teachers think) and video-recordings (thus examining what teachers do). Findings show that although many teachers had internalized CLT principles, their actual teaching methodologies varied greatly.

Should technical knowledge be valued over pedagogical skills? Another piece of the picture emerges here: what might be an appropriate balance between theory and practice within a pre-service or in-service program? Certainly, theory—rooted in research—ought to legitimize the practice of skills. However, it might be argued that spontaneous practice, that is, practice without modeling or input which might bias the practice, could lead to the discovery and development of new skills. From popular constructivist learning theory, it is known that human knowledge acquisition often—or usually, depending on how we interpret the results—stems from spontaneous experimentation. Within the domain of language acquisition, it must be remembered that the historical and evolutionary processes of language development in humans unfolded via experimentation rather than the implementation of pre-existing rules.

This inherently precarious nature of language learning has pedagogical implications. For instance, Doughty and Williams [29] discusses the ongoing debate concerning the utility of language versus its integrity as a medium: “There is no definitive research upon which to base a choice of [form] over [meaning], rather, it seems likely that both approaches are effective, depending upon the classroom circumstances” [29, pp. 211]. The idea of classroom circumstanceshere is an almost unfathomably difficult parameter to describe or measure; every new classroom environment will inherently be unique from all others just as snowflakes always claim their own identities. According to Sakurai [30], “The more teachers believed that children could acquire the target language naturally, the fewer form-focused utterances they produced in the classroom” [30, pp. 174]. Lin [31] found that focus-on-form (FoF) methods are effective for the acquisition of both receptive and productive skills in specific target ranges, such as with some grammar structures (i.e. simple past tense and articles, which were the two targets studied). Gholami and Mustapha [32] argue that the social context (i.e. that of the target language) is an indirect, yet significant factor in L2 acquisition; the L2 is not used outside of the classroom, and rarely within the classroom. Vygotskyian socio-constructivist theory states that learners learn language best within social interactions (as via spontaneous experimentation as discussed previously).

 

8.     INSTRUCTIONAL APPROACHES, METHODS AND TECHNIQUES

Within the realm of pedagogy, researchers and practitioners commonly use terms such as approaches, methods, and techniques interchangeably. Lewis [33], for example, defines approach as “an integrated set of theoretical and practical beliefs, embodying both syllabus and method” [33, pp. 2]. Although this definition describes an inherent connection between theory (syllabi) and methodology, a distinction exists in that we may ask, “How do students learn?” followed by, “How do teachers teach?” In this paper, approach refers us to the former question while method refers us to the latter. In the end, a living piece of pedagogy will thus consider curricula from both perspectives: students’ and teachers’.

Kumaravadivelu [34] looked at trends in TESOL from 1990 to 2005. “Three perceptible shifts [were identified]: (a) from communicative language teaching to task-based language teaching, (b) from method-based pedagogy to post-method pedagogy, and (c) from systemic discovery to critical discourse” [34, pp. 59]. The pre-1990 era is described as the period of awareness and the era after as the period of awakening. Mackey [27] distinguishes between methods analysis and teaching analysis: “Method analysis can be done by reviewing the relevant literature, but teaching analysis can be done only by including a study of classroom input and interaction. This article is about method analysis, not teaching analysis” [27, pp. 60].“TBLT is considered more psycholinguistically oriented compared to CLT, which is more sociolinguistically oriented” [27, pp. 72]. Furthermore, “The crux of the problem facing TBLT is how to make sure that learners focus their attention on grammatical forms while expressing their intended meaning” [27, pp. 72]. Considering the 1960s era context of the literature, it is clear to see a distinct movement towards meaning in communication versus form and structure, both of which were emphasized in previous eras of grammar translation and audio-lingual methodologies.

 

9.     PARADIGMS IN ENGLISH LANGUAGE INSTRUCTION

Communicative language teaching has an almost half-century history in English language pedagogy. Stemming primarily from Chomsky’s [35] suggestion that language is more than an orchestration of grammar, CLT has been further refined and described by subsequent findings from Hymes [36], Van Ek and Alexander [37], and Wilkins [38]. A fundamental tenant of CLT is that language embodies communicational functionality within social contexts; language is used as the currency of interpersonal interaction.

In order to fully realize the evolving nature of the industry, it becomes necessary to examine this timeline with respect to other paradigms in GELI. The grammar translation (GT) and audio-lingual (AL) approaches dominated GELI between the last half of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th. The gradual accumulation of brain science and learning theories—crystallized significantly by the work of John Dewey in the late 19th century—combined with shifts in cultural attitudes—such as the eventual departure from faith in rote memorization and teacher-centered classrooms—escorted GT and AL away from the spotlight. Newer, student-centered classrooms and greater attention to function-based, rather than form-based, instruction set the stage for CLT. It is important to note the transient nature of SLA between the domains of theory and application; Ellis [39, pp. 183] defends SLA as being “still at heart an applied rather than a pure discipline”.

Jarvis and Atsilarat [40, pp. 2]propose a new context-based approach to language instruction as a tactful alternative to CLT. “It is argued that although the fundamental tenets of the approach have served the profession well, it is now time to consider an emerging alternative paradigm in the form of a context-based approach (C-bA). […] That the purpose of language is communicative competence, and that communicative functions and notions set in situations are an integral aspect of the equation, although once radical, seems patently obvious to practitioners today”. This is supported by Bax[41] and is worthy of being watched as the most recent paradigmatic approach in GELI.

 

10. TEACHING THE TEACHERS

Numerous reports cite professional development as being the vehicle of choice for improving several aspects of education including increased student achievement, heightened academic standards, school development, solidified instructional methods, developing professional learning communities, and facilitating organizational development [22], [42], [43], [44], [45]. Professional development specifically for GELI teachers has become prominent in recent literature [46], [47], [7], [48], [49], [50], [51], [52] and has likely been ameliorated, in part, by numerous studies from the previous decade describing significant deficiencies in teacher training programs [53], [54], [55], [56], [57], [58], [59], [60]. It is additionally recognized that teachers as professionals require various processes of ongoing intellectual, experiential, and attitudinal growth [61]. As professionals, teachers should constantly develop themselves. Stated perhaps most eloquently by Igawa [62, pp. 432], “Teachers’ own growth is necessary in order to cope with the ever-expanding knowledge base in subject matter and pedagogy, rapidly changing social contexts of schooling, and increasingly diversifying students’ needs. EFL teachers are not exempt from this professional responsibility”.

Although several internationally recognized training mechanisms exist such as the Cambridge CELTA, Cambridge DELTA, and the Trinity ESOL certification courses, in-service training mechanisms—specifically—tend to exist as smaller, local frameworks specific to the institution where the teachers practice (e.g. [3],[4], [7],[63]). One notable exception to this is the Cambridge ICELT, which is marketed as an in-service certification program.

A vast majority of EFL teachers in the international context are themselves non-native speakers of English [64]. Due to local job-protection regulations and relative human resource availability in many foreign countries, it is common for EFL departments to be dominated by non-native English teachers (NNET). It is also important to realize the vast differences between EFL and ESL learning dynamics: that EFL environments see students in their home environments without authentic exposure to socioeconomic, sociopolitical and other culture-specific dynamics inherent to the environment of the target language. Additionally, non-native speakers of English who assume EFL teaching positions employ different pedagogical practices and thus affect student learning in fashions distinct from those observed with native-speaking instructors [64]. Most notably are the following differences: that local EFL instructors (i.e. those who are of the same culture and nationality as their students) rely heavily upon L1 to teach L2, whereas ESL environments are typically characterized as having native-English speaking instructors who teach L2 using L2. Additionally, learners in EFL environments typically lack opportunity, urgency, or necessity to use English in authentic environments by virtue of their sociocultural location (i.e. in their home country). ESL students, however, enjoy many more opportunities to practice and utilize new learning outside of the formal instructional environment of the classroom [65],[66].

Teachers are often encouraged to engage in continuous, systemic research efforts in order to enhance their practices [26], [43]. Teachers are not always receptive to new findings in research, and they seldom hold the skills necessary to independently utilize academic literature [67]). Johnson and Golombek [68] explain how teacher training is a constructivist process that allows teachers to adjust their beliefs, attitudes and methodologies. Posit the authors; CPD seminars should be highly participatory such that trainees are actively involved in the digestion of existing theory and the simultaneous re-articulation and creation of new knowledge. This is echoed in Lee [47]who provides the impetus that CPD engagements are more than the sequestration of theory from trainers to trainees; rather, authentic professional development emerges as a gestalt via mutual exploration of otherwise fragmented theory, knowledge and experience. Additionally, an all-too-often ignored phenomenon must be brought into light:

[University] teachers or teacher educators give upfront presentations, followed by comments or questions from the audience. Such a mode of CPD is built upon a simplistic view that regards university-based teachers as knowers and givers, and frontline teachers as passive recipients of knowledge. This polarization of teacher and learner roles is problematic because university teachers are likely to be less in touch with the realities of the classroom teachers’ work contexts, and the feasibility of innovative ideas in real classroom contexts may not be as thorough as that of practicing teachers. [47, pp. 31]

Bhattacharya [69] brings us back to the Theory of Andragogy, first described by Knowles [70], to emphasize important differences between andragogy (adult learning theory) and pedagogy (child learning theory). Key differences in assumptions are presented in Table 4.

Knowles [70] references Lynton and Pareek [71] which summarizestraditional versus proposed understandings of training in Table 5.

Adult learning theory must be embraced as part of the CPD model, which is sometimes an uncomfortable transition from pedagogy in that teachers who teach other teachers tend to employ their well-practiced pedagogical techniques. Timperleyet al. [72] in Lee [47] delineates various modes of CPD that fit comfortably within andragogical frameworks:

•  Listening/watching

•  Being observed/receiving feedback

•  Engaging with academic/professional readings

•  Discussing teaching with critical friends/experts

•  Discussing own theories of teaching

Hayes [73] and Sayre and Wetterlund [74] describe models commonly recognized as cascade training. This approach to teacher training supposes that competent lead teachers may be trained to teach other, perhaps lesser-experienced teachers, as part of a CPD program. Hayes [73] supports assertions by Lee [47] and Johnson and Golombek [68] in that teacher training may largely be seen as either a transmission of existing knowledge or a [more preferred] picture of mutual collaboration and the active production of new knowledge. Lee’s [47, pp. 33] central research question adds context: “In what ways can EFL teachers’ active participation as presenters in CPD seminars promote teacher learning? Teacher learningrefers to the learning on the part of both the seminar participants and the teacher presenters”.

Is it possible to directly influence teachers’ perspectives of themselves through CPD? Certainly it is plausible to imagine that any sort of even partially successful professional development is likely to have a positive net effect on one’s confidence and perception of aptitude; however, Karimi [46] found evidence that CPD can have a measurable influence on self-efficacy and Sim [75] reports evidence of increased levels of motivation, confidence and an influence on professional identity, also following a CPD program. The quantitative control group-based study in Karimi [46] was staged such that the experimental population was given targeted CPD. Results of the study indicate that there was a direct correlation between the CPD provided and the overall increase in self-efficacy amongst the trainees as was measured using a Teacher Sense of Efficacy Scale tool. It is thus suggested that there exists a more fundamental psychological benefit associated with CPD than simply knowledge creation and the accumulation of technical skill. Given that teachers will naturally articulate their own methods based upon personal convictions, the relationships between other puzzle pieces are not complex: pre-service, in-service and CPD trainers influence the methods; local and federal policies add influence; and lastly, classroom interactions with students further shape those methods. In this sense, in addition to a top-down process of methods formulation, a bottom-up influence is seen when students serve as a feedback loop.

Foundational work for Lee’s [47] assertion about teacher-student role switching through discussion about how EFL teachers tend to perpetuate traditional pedagogical methods was established by Lau [76]. Although the tendency of students to follow teachers’ prescribed learning techniques is evident, it is prudent to also examine learners’ self-chosen learning techniques. A 2010 study by Shang[77] reveals a preference amongst undergraduate level Taiwanese English-majors to employ metacognitive reading comprehension techniques over compensation and cognitive techniques. It is explained how the same learners tend to use lower-level, local processes—such as frequent use of a bilingual dictionary and grammar translation decoding—to evaluate challenging texts in the L2; this results in low net comprehension and achievement. In what ways can more tactful pre- and in-service teacher training target this inefficient and ineffective tendency amongst language learners?

This phenomenon is further described inSheen [78] which indicates that language learning on the part of students has not necessarily experienced progress as a result of historical paradigm shifts in the GELI world. Sheen [78] cites, for example, how the audio-lingual and communicative (CLT) approaches have not fulfilled their initial promises, but that they have repositioned attention on other pedagogical components such as oral/aural teaching techniques. Shifting paradigms in this sense produces new insights despite a general net shortcoming in expected progress. Educators worldwide echo the same lamentation: These students have been studying English for seven years but still cannot speak or understand!

Examples of autonomous language learners are not uncommon; these individuals typically have intrinsic motivators different from those who seek the guidance of teachers, textbooks and classes. Several precarious phenomena may be considered here: when motivation is intrinsic, the natural inclination to learn is much more powerful, efficient, and arguably effective; when intrinsic motivation is strong enough—and when necessary resources are available—that individual may seek to relocate from an L1 environment to a L2 setting (i.e. they move to a native speaking English country) or surround themselves with L2 input in the L1 environment (i.e. they seek authentic input, such as interaction native speakers and the active pursuit of L2 texts), thus a bridge is built between EFL and ESL (i.e. learners attempt to minimize exposure to their own L1 and maximize exposure to the L2). Lastly, learning becomes active rather than passive: learners become users of the L2 during authentic language transactions rather than passive recipients of the L2 in generic language transactions.

Nonetheless, a vast majority of GELI is engulfed in EFL environments. Students and teachers alike are confined to classrooms and schools in L1 settings. Thus there is a great need to develop the EFL world such that teachers and teacher trainers are better equipped to use current, scientifically-sound, effective and efficient pedagogical and andragogical techniques. A dangerous mistake is to only consider the student-teacher relationship; the picture is a bit larger in that GELI professionals must also consider the student-teacher-trainer relationship and examine the down-flowing effects of teacher training on classroom-based student learning. Eleven principles for guiding teacher training have been proposed by Ellis [39] and our listed in Table 6.

In some circles, teaching had traditionally been regarded as an art, and that teachers are born, not made; thus they require little training [22], [50]. Although some aspects of this notion may be credible—such as one’s natural affinity towards working in social environments, or with one’s inherent interpersonal communication skills—the current state of GELI, including voices from the literature, indicates that clearly devised training schemes are not only demanded by employers and clients (i.e. students), but that they are necessary for effective and efficient language acquisition.

 

11. THE CASE OF COLOMBIA

In the last decade, Colombia entered La Revolución Educativa. Part of this intentional revolution is Colombia Bilingüe. This nation hosts an example of a government that is taking steps not only to improve educational systems, but specifically to incrementally require citizens to learn English. Moncada [7, pp. 310] asserts that Colombia Bilingüe, although sound in theory with its adoption of internationally applauded CEFR, “[…] disregards the local construction of knowledge on ELT”. The work also asserts that “[…] no documents have been issued to support the benefits of using the CEFR over other professional development models” [7, pp. 311] and explains that it would be irresponsible to adopt any single language learning framework due to the complexities of nation in terms of diversity of settings, achievement of standards, resources, teacher preparation, student motivation and curricula. Some institutions, conversely, actively strive to adopt and implement the CEFR (e.g., the Universidad de Medellín in Colombia) (Administrator E. Ospina, personal communication, 16 November 2011).

One decade before—in the 1990s—an earlier English language learning push was made with the development of the Colombian Framework for English (COFE) project [63]. This, however, was not embraced by the Colombian supporters of the CEFR and co-developers (British Council and the Colombian Ministry of Education) of Colombia Bilingüe [7].

 

12. THE CASE OF JORDAN

Al-Wreikat and Abdullah’s 2010 [3] mixed-methods study utilized interviews from 798 Jordanian ELF teachers to examine the relationships between teachers’ in-service training courses and overall teaching techniques effectiveness. Two primary research questions were investigated:

(1) To what extent are the Jordanian EFL teachers' in-service training courses techniques adequately organized to upgrade EFL teachers’ performance?

(2) What are the needs of EFL teachers in the in-service training courses in Jordan in terms of teaching techniques?

State the authors, “The findings of the study, taking into account the teaching techniques’ effectiveness in the in-service training courses and their impact on EFL teachers’ performance, have revealed that EFL teachers’ in-service training courses did not emphasize good and effective teaching technique” [3, pp. 18]. A few examples include: lack of emphases on pedagogical strategies such as FoF, using multimedia technology, giving drills, brainstorming elicitation technique, situational dialogues, drama technique, problem solving tasks, and text mapping. Specific qualitative findings from in-service courses include:

•  Implementation of the different techniques was not discussed; the courses did not highlight the implementation of drama techniques; feedback discussion between teachers and trainers is neglected as a technique; situational dialogues were not discussed in terms of their implementation in classroom situations.

•  The courses did not discuss the proper methods, which are in line with the new adopted materials (from the Ministry of Education). The findings are consistent with the responses of teachers to the questionnaire in terms of material construction category.

•  The courses did not take into account the teachers’ educational levels.

•  The courses did not match different techniques with different materials; this is consistent with the finding that in-service training courses did not match the techniques with task demands. This, in turn, leads to a negative effect on the teachers’ performance in explaining the related tasks.

•  The style of the textbook did not encourage self-learning, critical thinking, or problem solving techniques in classrooms. [3, pp. 23-24]

In this situation, the Jordanian Ministry of Education implemented specific protocols that were then neglected by trainers during in-service programs for the teachers who reported the following as primary pedagogical and andragogical values: importance of applying techniques for teaching in the four macro language skills; drama techniques; feedback discussion between teachers and trainers; situational dialogues in classroom situations; multimedia technology and application; FoF techniques; selecting techniques that are scientifically based; coordinating or matching strategies with task demands; problem solving tasks; mind mapping; text mapping; self-report discussions; and debates. Quantitative data collected during the study corroborated qualitative teacher reports.

Many Arab countries have experienced a pattern of neglect in their educational systems, which has spurred international initiative programs—such as those implemented by the United Nations Development Program—to help re-build schools [84]. Along with this, “There is a need for a research that can evaluate EFL teachers’ in-service training courses on teaching technique and their effectiveness to clarify the relation between the effectiveness of teaching techniques and performance of EFL teachers” [3, pp. 18].

Echoed in their subsequent 2011 study [4], AL-Wreikat and Abdullah found that in-service programs for government school EFL teachers in Jordan are not properly organized in the sense that they advertise training in varied teaching approaches, but fail to deliver this training. This is similar to a study from the same authors earlier in 2010 [3]. The authors discuss the history of EFL evolution over the last half a century: that English language teaching could be an opportunity for economic growth. However, systemic instructional methods were nonexistent until the 1960s, and finally in the mid-1980s the communicative approach (CLT) was adopted. (The communicative approach was prompted by Chomsky [35] and further developed by American psychoanalyst Robert Langs in the early 1970s.) Teachers in many parts of the world are still encouraged to use CLT for language instruction [28]. CLT has been criticized, especially by the prominent linguist Michael Swan, as being aloof to important learning contexts [85], [86]; similarly, CLT was described as failing to fulfill its promises in that it did not manifest itself as an all-situation mechanism that professed to be both effective and efficient [78].

 

13. THE CASE OF KOREA

Sim’s 2011 report [75] serves as a key piece of literature relevant to this phenomenon. Korean English teachers were followed before, during and after an in-service (INSET) program. The study aimed to track teachers’ practices and perceptions as influenced by the INSET. It was found that an increase in confidence allowed the teachers to pursue better career prospects and also influenced their own senses of personal identity. Data also concluded that “contextual differences between the INSET and real practice, the content of the INSET, and lack of school support” [75, pp. viii] were the main barriers faced by the teachers. Other long-term outcomes were identified: that a follow-up program including mentorship, the ability to share resources, and an organized peer support group would significantly assist the teachers. Suggestions of how INSET programs could be optimized include the following:

•  INSET should provide ongoing support to promote developmental continuity after the course.

•  INSET should consider teaching contexts sensitively, especially large classes and limited materials.

•  Trainees should continue their professional development under their own initiative even after the INSET course.

These findings stress the need for CPD above and beyond simple, one-time PD programs either in a guided (i.e. with the support of trainers) or unguided (i.e. independent) fashion.

Igawa [62] shares insight from an international PD program held in 2007 in Tokyo. Attendees included native and non-native speaking teachers working in Japan and Korea. Findings include the need for further development in the four areas of:

•  Teaching skills and methods

•  Language improvement

•  General communication skills

•  Motivation

Igawa[62] contextualizes these findings in light of the globalization of English and the recent shift in paradigmatic approaches from grammar-translation methods to communicative methods in ELT:

These challenges are all context-bound [9]: students, parents, school, curriculum, syllabus, and society (i.e., structural and socio-cultural contexts [87]), and yet many of them are shared by the EFL practitioners across national borders [87, pp. 432].

This last statement about trends common across borders is insightful: international-scale INSET programs are much less common than local programs, and it is often difficult to compare or contrast these phenomena across such temporal and spatial boundaries.

 

14. RATIONALE

Action research is seen as a family of practices and often begins with a question about improving a situation or how the investigator may improve a practice [88].  Action research differs from other methods in that the investigator is directly involved with the study population as the collective whole works towards an outcome that would not have been possible in the absence of either party.

Action research falls within the field of ethnography, which is distinguished as being rooted in both sociology and anthropology [89]. The action research aspect of this study works within the field of ethnography in that the researcher will work with, and co-experience, an in situ environment and corresponding phenomena with members of the study population in addition to observing and studying that population. This provides a balance of both emic and etic observation [53], [90], [91]. Data driven by action research will assume the form of structured and semi-structure tools such as questionnaires and surveys while ethnographic data will include field notes, photographs, and other observational artifacts. The ethnographic-naturalistic [92] approach also includes some structured components such as interviews, questionnaires, and focus group activities [24], [93]). Lofland et al. [92] refers to this conglomeration of terminology simply as fieldstudies due to the intentional entrance of the investigator into a natural, existing social setting.

 

15. DISCUSSION

Literature reviewed in this paper outlines a brief history of the TESOL industry with the establishment of TESOL International in 1963. Since that time, an increasing tone of organization and formality continues to characterize the field, thus bringing it closer to the general state of traditional education in developed societies in the sense that modern TESOL teachers have specialized training. Technical and academic institutions have responded to this demand by developing an array of pre-service programs. It is important to maintain a distinction between pre-service and in-service training as they are often discussed simultaneously under some magical umbrella of teacher training or professional development. Furthermore, it is important to differentiate between training programs, such as the CELTA, versus diagnostic tools, such as the IELTS examination of English proficiency or the TKT, which attempts to measure pedagogical knowledge.

A wide variety of standardized, universally-recognized pre-service (e.g. CELTA, TESOL and unregulated programs such as TEFL) and in-service (e.g. DELTA & ICELT) programs exist, but they tend to lack the level of detail and cultural responsiveness necessary to be effective on local scales. Similarly—yet conversely—a large number of in-service (CPD) courses and programs exist, but they tend to be developed locally and have three common deficiencies: they lack international recognition; they reach only small audiences; and they are often developed by faculty and administrators who lack technical training and/or skill in the development of such specialized curricula. The aim of the current study is to investigate the possibility of developing a framework model that may decrease or eliminate the deficiencies identified on both sides.

Continuing trends in globalization also support the development of the TESOL industry and the need for stronger in-service CPD models. As commerce moves between borders, a common language is necessary for efficient trade; English has been the long-standing and thus most likely candidate for this currency. Within nations, when business people do not necessarily meet foreigners, they encounter English in print and online media, as well as in typed, written, or verbal transactions through distance technologies. Institutions have responded to this corporate need for English: universities often offer executive English programs catering to a non-student audience of working business people. In these cases, students (i.e. working business people) are often required to have a functional level of English proficiency before gaining admission to the executive program; the idea is that the executive program model assumes that students will have had basic exposure to the language and that a higher level of general and technical English will be introduced. These curricula thus differ slightly in that they rely heavily upon technical English, with Business English being the most popular. Countless other varieties exist, such as English for Science; English for Mathematics; English for Engineering; etc. Instructors of these courses necessarily must have exposure to these lexicons and be familiar with the business or technical skills at hand. Another important dimension exists in executive programs, which is the emphasis on andragogy rather than pedagogy. Andragogical methods may differ in some cultures according to variations in the social science dimensions of power-distance, gender egalitarianism, etc. [94]. These specific nuances of TESOL instruction vary from culture to culture and are thus important as part of a culturally-responsive in-service program for instructors.

 

16. CONCLUSIONS

This paper analyzes the current state of the English language industry within the context of globalization and identifies areas of need within teacher training programs. Relevant literature calls for more robust professional development programs in all world regions examined. Specifically, there is a need for stronger in-service and continuous programming for faculty. Additionally, it is observed that many recognized training programs are generalized and thus lack cultural responsiveness. Several countries have adopted these generalized programs but have found that they do not meet the needs of local faculty and student populations. Programs which are intended to be culturally-responsive are typically developed by non-experts and thus lack both effectiveness and external recognition. The ultimate objective of this paper is to determine possibilities of creating programmatic frameworks which are simultaneously robust, externally recognized, and culturally responsive. Findings suggest that training programs must be customized and delivered along appropriate timelines by professional curriculum developers and faculty trainers.It is recommended that further research looks closely at local populations and the effectiveness of current training programs in order to determine appropriate developmental strategies according to faculty and student needs.

 

17. ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I offer a special thank you to María Renée Marañón Cardozo for assistance in publishing this article.

 

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NOTAS

[1]DM, MBA, M.Ed., TESOL │ Independent Researcher

 

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