ORIENTING PRIMARY TEACHERS TOWARDS COMPETENCY BASED ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING

                                                                                                         K. Chellamani

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION

The basic aim of teaching English is to enable the student to develop the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing English. It is while speaking and writing that the problem of intelligibility and acceptability arises. Correctness based on internationally accepted standards can not be ignored by us. For today the compulsions of learning English in India arise, out of the need to enhance knowledge especially in science and technology. Therefore the teachers of English should take up the task of helping students to acquire the second language, English. A student must be equipped not only to get information and knowledge from books written in English, but must also have the ability to use the language for intelligent discussion and communication. He/she must learn English in a way that the sentences he/she produces, both written and spoken, must be clearly understood and must be adequate for the context. Of all the methods in language teaching, the communicative approach emphasis on current language in use. It presents the second language in more clearly specified social context and situation than the formal or structural approach. To meet the day’s need, English has been introduced right from class 1, since 2003-2004. The area of development is focused on Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing, Grammar, Vocabulary and Language. The Objective of Teaching English at the Elementary Level are to :understand simple statements when spoken; understand questions asked, short talks and short passages when read out(all within his experience); ask simple questions relating to his experience and answer them orally; read with fluency (both aloud and silently) and understand simple passages within the vocabulary and structural range of the syllabus; and express in writing with reasonable accuracy within the range of the syllabus or topics within his experience. These general objectives are specified in terms of competencies. The content of the text carries these competencies and the teacher instruction is in the form of a note. It is the task of the teacher to follow the note, understand the competencies and make use of the lesson, i.e., the tool for developing the prescribed competencies. Comprehension of the above is the basic prerequisite for any teacher to handle any text book whenever any revision occurs.

 The latest revision of textbooks has begun from the year 2000. Introduction of new text book goes with the teacher’s handbook and organization of in-service training programs. But interaction with the teachers reveals that they are not even aware of the competencies identified and enlisted.  They take up the lesson as a subject to be taught and never think that it is only a tool for developing competencies.  They do not know what competency means actually. They do bother about syllabus completion and preparation of students for examination. Without understanding the organization of the text, the input components are considered as lesson and are transacted to students as subject and lesson. As a result, the objectives of primary education are not attained. Hardly there is competency development. With this, base the primary level children   move to upper primary class. In upper primary class, the area of language competencies are ten in number, right from Listening to Creative competency. It really requires a base, without which the objectives of upper primary can not be achieved. The entry behaviour of upper primary students with the existing condition really scare the language teachers of upper primary. Consequently with little understandings of competencies they prepare those students for examination by training them to by heart all ready made questions and answers. Ultimately throughout in elementary the prescribed competencies are not at all achieved and the objectives of elementary level education go in vain.  One more aspect to be recognized here is the preparation of Teaching Learning Material by teachers. Teachers are expected to use TLM for effectiveness in achievement of competencies. TLM are supportive materials for the tool given in hand. TLM should provide experience for students in their development of language competencies. But actually happens is, teacher do take up preparation of TLM as part of their lesson plan writing. And they do produce charts in thermo coal, copying what is given in the textbook and call it a TLM. And this mechanical process may not also be followed for all, the lesson. It serves more for inspection process rather for development of competencies. Thus TLM plays a meaningless role in instruction. In order to have a comprehensive understanding of the prescribed competencies, the investigator pooled down all the competencies and made a list of them. For competency development among children, it is essential for the teachers to possess all those competencies. Therefore the required teacher competencies for the learner competencies in each language skill area are sketched by the investigator in her study. Objectives of the Programme were to enable the primary teachers: To understand the theory of second language learning; To understand the second language teaching principles; To practice the essential language teacher competencies; To practice the expected language competencies of primary level students; To understand the psychological/pedagogical/technological principles in the instructional design; To know the concepts on preparation and utilization of TLM materials; and  To equip themselves towards the application of the principles in their utilization for the development of desired competencies.

 

Sample

Teacher sample :Ten teachers from 5 zones in Chennai city were selected at random  as teacher sample.

Student sample: Students of respective sample teachers, a set for each class (from class 1 to 5) was selected for the study.

 

Duration of the programme

A total of two months in which the training of the teachers was followed by implementation in their classrooms.

 

Research Phases

In order to realize the objective, the investigator had proceeded the research in the following manner.

Phase 1: Developing a tool to find out the present level of English language teaching competencies among primary teachers in Chennai City.

Phase 2:  Designing an instructional programme where the preparation of TLM would be based on psycho/techno/pedagogic principles - “Orienting the teachers on learner’s English language competencies and train them to design instructional language programmes along with the preparation of TLM”.

 

Planning for a Training programme: The investigator assessed the training requirements of the teachers based on the data collected through a set need assessment tool. The one on TLM preparation was collected during an in-service training programme on TLM preparation. And the other on , “an assessment on English language teaching competency” was given to the primary teachers. From the responses, the investigator inferred that teachers need to:

*Have awareness on strategic planning and devising appropriate methods of instruction;

*Know that the preparation of instructional materials and devices must be in accordance with the nature of the learner and the principles behind learning;

*Possess the essential language competencies for facilitating the students to acquire the expected competencies;

*Understand the psychological/technological/pedagogical principles to be adopted in the instructional design; and

*Have the ability to identify the appropriate TLM requirements for development of the stated language competencies.

 

 The investigator reviewed related literature for identification of instructional strategies, cognitive, metacognitive, psycholinguistic principles and literature to establish research grounds. The psycholinguistic principles for language teaching were gathered. Experts were consulted, regarding the principles behind preparation of TLM materials. The scientific principles behind selection, preparation and use of TLM were understood. Then Romiszowski’s(1974) guidelines for using Media Taxonomies were selected. The theories of learning were consolidated and the pedagogical principles were listed down. The investigator referred technology books and studied the applications of technology towards education. In the perspective of TLM preparation, she identified certain factors like Task factor, Student factor, Physical attributes, Economic factor, and Media factor, essential to be    taken care of. Then the important component playing in human learning i.e., psychological principles were attended. The psychological principles were sketched under four frames, viz. Motivation, Attention, Perception and Cognition for concept formation. Thus the skeleton for preparation of TLM was set ready.  Through the need assessment, the investigator realized the necessary inputs to be incorporated in the training programme. The necessity for teachers to comprehend the objectives of English Languish Teaching at primary level, the structure and the design of the text book, the enlisted English Language competencies, and the teacher requirements for developing the competencies among students were sensitized. Since the teacher trainees need theory inputs, the investigator arranged for expert lectures. While learning theories, practical sessions are essential for hands on experiences. Consequently, a schedule for preparation of TLM, using Pedagogical, Technological and psychological principles was interwoven in the program time frame. The programme was planned in such a way that through brainstorming their expectations   were elicited and their requirements were incorporated. The first two days of the programme, the necessary theory inputs on English language teaching, familiarization of language competencies, conceptualization on TLM preparation and utilization, theory on language components were given.  The other three days were exclusively for hands on experience on TLM preparation. The investigator gave a model Instructional design, with a demonstration class. The participants were ten in number and they were divided into five different groups. Each group was given one textbook thereby all the classes (1-5) textbooks were analyzed. Orientation on Instructional Designing was given. Here the teachers’ perception on looking at the content was directed towards taking them as a tool for developing the expected competencies. The teacher was to see the relevance and the sufficiency of the given input for the prescribed competencies for students, with that deficiency identification, keeping the pedagogical and technological principles on the main frame, designed an instructional programme.  This     instructional programme has TLM and students’ participation. Each group has a demonstration class followed by a feedback. The feedback carried corrective measures and it had been attended in the following session. The last session focused on consolidation, presentation and validation. The investigator realized the importance of portfolio writing for every individual to reflect on her own growth and development in the programme. Everyday, before the session calls it a day, they recorded the things they had learnt, and the areas of inquiry. The investigator collected their portfolios and did attend their enquiry in the following day. The last day they voiced out their experience in that programme. Thus the investigator designed a training programme where the primary teacher was tuned to develop Teaching Learning Materials using pedagogical, technological, and psychological principles. The developed instructional packages were consolidated and arranged in a module form.

Phase 3: The investigator wanted to assess the effectiveness of the training on teacher language competencies and hence administered the same pretest tool as post test tool. The research design of the training programme is pretest-training posttest design.. The scores of both the tests were collected. Teacher portfolios were also collected.

Phase 4: The training input, i.e., designing an instructional programme where the preparation and utilization of TLM are based on pedagogical, technological and psychological principles was taken to the classrooms by the trainee teachers. The teachers assessed the language competencies of the students’ using the instructional design that they developed in the training programme, to their real class. It was followed by the administration of a post test tool similar to the pretest tool.  The content validity of the tools was established by experts. The reliability of the tools was established by KR 20 method. The scores of both the tests were collected. This has been uniformly carried over by all the trainee teachers in their schools.

Phase 5: Scheme of Data analysis:  The pretest and post scores on English language teaching competency of the trainee teachers were tabulated and the mean and standard deviation were computed. The scores of the competencies were computed and tabulated. In order to find out the significant mean difference between the pretest and posttest mean scores on ELT competency, the   ‘t’ test for correlated small group was applied. Hence ‘r’ value between the pretest and posttest scores of language competencies were computed separately. Omega square analysis was attempted. The pretest and posttest scores on English language performance of all the experimental group students performance were tabulated and the mean and SD were computed. In order to find out the significant mean difference between the pretest and posttest mean scores on English language performance, the‘t’ test for correlated sample was applied. Hence ‘r’ value between the pretest and posttest scores of the experimental groups was computed separately. Omega square Analysis was attempted to see the effect of the instructional design treatment in their performance in English language. In order to see the overall effectiveness of the treatment the weighted arithmetic mean of the entire students sample was found out to see the overall effectiveness.

 

CONCLUSION                      

The results of the analysis proved that there is change in English language teaching and assessing language in a way that encourages a positive working atmosphere, where students make mistakes and learn from them. The reflections of trainee teachers speak that there is shift in their perception of the text book. Moreover there is prevalence of confidence and hope in attaining the objectives of English language teaching at primary levels.