Teacher Development from Materials to Method

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The Indian ELT picture

Continuous Comprehensive Evaluation (CCE) was made mandatory in all CBSE schools in 2009 to ensure a diagnostic focus on learning. Teachers unequipped for the prescribed corrective action, however, impair the implementation of CCE. This problem is correlated with the professional development of elementary and secondary teachers through learner-centric ‘pedagogies that develop reflective teachers with adequate skills’ (NCF, 2005, p.25), and ‘improved curriculum and materials’(NCFTE, 2009, p.6).Teacher education for CCE in Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) requires ‘critically engaging with theory’ to ‘bring practice within its perspective’ (NCFTE, 2009, p.9). The role of the teacher is envisaged as ‘…developing capacities to think with educational theories and applying concepts in concrete teaching-learning situations’ (NCFTE, 2009, p.41). Teacher Education in CLT, hence,is focused primarily on method. This emphasis on pedagogical theory to improve teaching methods as the guiding policy of teacher education, however, has not bridged the perceived hiatus between theory and its classroom application.

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Interdisciplinary Teaching in English Literature: Old Hat or New Perspectives?

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In recent times, there has been a lot of academic brouhaha about interdisciplinarity. Interdisciplinary pedagogical practice allows the teacher to cross the traditional boundaries of discipline centred teaching by drawing from two or more academic disciplines to approach the text. Though the term has been in currency for a long time, in the Indian context it has gained popularity only recently.  

The very discipline of English literature demands an active awareness of other disciplines. Fiction, however removed from the real world, takes its basis from the author’s background and sensibilities. No study of literature can be done in isolation and relies heavily on other disciplines, especially social sciences to heighten the understanding of the text. So even before the concept and theories of interdisciplinarity gained currency, literature teaching meant integrating academic disciplines.

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Interdisciplinarity in Research

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As comparative literature once was, it is currently ‘fashionable’ to delve into interdisciplinary areas of study in teaching and research by exploring and pushing at boundaries. Despite the fact that it is quite difficult to do justice without the required expertise of different disciplines, more and more people are getting attracted to such an approach. This essay is an attempt at self exploration with regard to interdisciplinary studies wherein I try to enumerate the reasons why there is a love-hate relationship with interdisciplinarity, especially in spheres of language and literature.

Widens the horizon: Interdsiciplinarity is liberating as it widens our horizon and allows us to experiment with techniques that were earlier ‘taboo’. By breaking the stereotypical expectations of a disciplinary approach, right from the selection of study area to the methodology of research, the output can be the most original concoction. However this extraordinary freedom requires constant self-checks so as to maintain depth of study.  

Promise of some new findings: What attracts a researcher the most to this approach is the end of the tunnel, a search towards creation of new knowledge. For the literature scholar, analyzing and critiquing texts is not the easiest of tasks and yet parting with one’s grounding is not easy.  Most interdisciplinary studies require a departure from one’s training to self groom towards the vision of a new territory.

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An Interdisciplinary Approach to Teaching Academic Speaking Skills: An Experiment with Engineering Students

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Introduction

As the current study concerns teaching of academic speaking skills, I find it necessary to define what they are and how they are different from speaking skills in general. Academic speaking skills have the following features:

·         They are used in academic contexts.

·         They can be general as well as specific in nature.

·         They can vary from one specialized area like engineering or business management or literature to another.

Though it is necessary to teach academic language skills to students specializing in disciplines like the ones mentioned above, many researchers have reported that academic language skills are often neglected in technical institutions in India. Furthermore, speaking has been found to be one of the most ignored areas (Indira, 2003; Neelaveni, 2005; Venkatraman & Prema, 2007; Pradhan, 2010). This is precisely why I have chosen to experiment with speaking. Then, there is very little research on the lack of transfer of language skills from the language to the subject classroom. More than other areas, ELT in engineering colleges has been a matter of great worry. It has been reported that engineering students and engineers lack basic EL skills required to function effectively in their respective fields (24 September, 2012, Aspiring Minds; 27 Aug., 2012, The Times of India; 2011, NASSCOM). Questions have been asked about teachers’ ability to teach language for specific purposes (LSP) and make use of students’ academic contexts, i.e. contexts of science, for teaching English language skills. Somehow, teachers find it difficult to break the disciplinary boundaries and venture into using scientific contexts for classroom instructional purposes.

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“Classroom Observation and Supervision” within the ambit of Continual Professional Development (CPD)

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An Interview with Rod Bolitho, Academic Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE) United Kingdom

After an intensive workshop on ‘Classroom Observ ation and Supervision” organized by MINDS (Mentoring in Delhi Schools) Project, headed by Professor Rama Mathew, Central Institute of Education (CIE) University of Delhi and British Council, New Delhi on 26th April 2011, Prem Kumari Srivastava and Sabina Pillai, both Associate Professors of English at the University of Delhi, caught up with the workshop leader, Rod Bolitho, a well-known English Language Teaching (ELT) expert. An Academic Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), UK, Rod Bolitho started out teaching English in Germany and has been active in teacher education and trainer training for over 30 years.  He has also been  a consultant to a number of British Council projects since 1989, including the CBSE Curriculum Reform Project in India, and is currently involved in Teacher Education and Materials Development initiatives in Uzbekistan and Romania as well as in Policy Dialogue initiatives in India.

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Prem Kumari Srivastava (PKS): Right at the outset, Rod, it is indeed a pleasure meeting you and then interacting with you for the whole day in this intensive workshop on “Classroom Observation and Supervision’ organised by Professor Rama Mathew, Coordinator, Minds Project in collaboration with the British Council, New Delhi. Many thanks for agreeing to talk to us after a full day and to discuss some significant issues related to classroom pedagogy: Observation and Supervision.

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