Innovative methodology in English teaching | Daily News


Innovative methodology in English teaching

Learning the English Language is a key to face global challenges in this modern, scientific, sophisticated, robotic and technological world. English is taught in Sri Lanka as a second language for many years but still, we could not achieve remarkable improvement in communication skills. Many direct and indirect factors influence our English teaching-learning industry functioning in a handicapped manner. The first and foremost reason is that we still cling on to the traditional way of teaching English and we hardly use innovative technology in teaching English.

We Sri Lankans are not in a position to change our attitude in our thoughts and actions. There are more than two hundred thousand teachers, ten thousand schools and 4.5 million students in the country. The government every year spends billions of rupees on education and educational reforms but the system is still retarding without proper effective implementation of those projects.

We cannot merely blame the government for everything because when a government is introducing a new innovative project it is up to the stakeholders to make the project success. This is why the attitudinal change is a must to accept the innovative changes in the field of education, science, technology, economy, agriculture and industry etc.

Professional training

It is a very remarkable turning point in teacher development through teacher education and professional training that the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the British Council in Sri Lanka launched a training programme called “iTESL” (Improving Teacher Education in Sri Lanka) last year with the sole and solid intention of giving further training for English teachers on innovative methodology. For this project, the Ministry hired three language consultants from the British Council Helen Cherry, Shilvia and Keran to train the master trainers, ISA (In-Service Advisors) and Assistant Directors of English in five Training Centres islandwide.

These consultants so far have trained 148 In-Service Advisors islandwide to train 10,000 English teachers on the island in 2019 and another 6,000 teachers to be trained in 2020.

As an In-Service Advisor, I got the privilege to undergo a 13-day training, five days at Yakarawathe Kuliyapitiya and another five days at Pasdunrata College of Education and last three days at Yakarawathe Kuliyapitiya. The training was basically on Interactive and Activity Based Teaching Methodology. Teachers at present teach students at randomly picked up traditional ways of teaching methodology where the Teacher Talking Time (TTT) is very high and little time is left for students to work in the classrooms. The English language teachers deprive the students of working time with Teacher Talking Time in a class.

This serious issue in the teaching-learning process has emerged due to lack of planning and improper and inappropriate teaching methodology employed in the English teaching industry. So in our training, they trained us to focus on how to plan an effective lesson plan to provide more opportunity for students to work through interactions and activities during the forty minutes lesson.

They taught us to write lesson plans with stage aims to effectively deliver a particular lesson without wasting time on excessive explanation. It is a bitter pill to swallow than some of the English teachers are still unable to plan a reading lesson for students.

They still command the students to take the particular page from their textbook and read and answer the questions at the end of the text. This is because of the lack of pre-planning and innovative, effective and interactive based knowledge and methodology employed in the system. It is an ideal teacher will adapt three stages in reading a lesson that is Pre, while and Post-reading stages.

Under these three stages if a teacher plans her lesson no doubt the students will get a chance to interact with other students, there is a chance for them to brainstorming and more importantly the teacher knows how much time she is going to spend on every stage of that particular lesson and she will probably not be spending more time on pre or while reading stages and little time on the post-reading stage that is the most important, the production stage.

At present what happens is teachers having spent the major portion of their lesson time on pre and while reading by (TTT) and leaves little time for the students to do their activity or excise. The same method can be applicable to teach listening too in schools. So in the 13 days training the consultants have trained us how to systematically plan an effective lesson and how to deliver the lesson efficiently by using teaching techniques such as pair share, critical thinking and grouping students in a lively and student-centred classroom.

Another remarkable aspect of the training is adapting innovative technology in language teaching and learning process. Today technology has dominated every field, so does the English language teaching. Thus there is a dire need for the Ministry of Education to equipped teachers with the latest technology to overcome the challenges in education especially English Language Teaching (ELT).

Through this iTESL training, they guided us how the technology is used effectively to prepare lessons, finding extra materials and updating our knowledge in the teaching profession and also how the technology is used to empower teachers through self-learning model of education. For instance, there is a software called “Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL), which focuses on two aspects: Language proficiency of the English teachers, and the use of Electronic Media to impart the language on the students and the software called Computer-Aided Language Learning (CALL) to assist and surmount hurdles and challenges in English Language teaching.

There is a major drawback in English language teaching in Sri Lanka that is we do not give priority and prominence for speaking and listening in the present system that is why the students who obtain “A” pass in English Language at the O/Ls are unable to express themselves in English because the reason is not the child but our education system in our country.

Listening and speaking abilities

We hardly check students’ listening and speaking abilities in the Ordinary Level exam but we evaluate only the students’ reading and writing skills in the final exam. For these reasons, only the Ministry of Education has taken these initiatives to train English teachers on innovative methodology especially to teach listening and speaking lesson in government schools. In my opinion, the Ministry has hit the nail on the head regarding teaching English in the country. Moreover, the listening and speech tests are conducted at school level from last year onwards and mark also awarded 12% for speech and 8%for listening for grade 6, 7 and 8.

I think this is a timely action has taken by the Ministry to teach and test listening and speaking skills in the government schools. This was tried in the previous government too under the theme “English is a life skill” but they could not incorporate into the system properly. Whatsoever, it is the government introduces new syllabus and innovative training programme but it is the teachers are the people going to implement it successfully it is like an adage: “it’s the singer, not the song” likewise it’s the teachers, not the project or syllabus is going make this programme success. Therefore, I believe that training teachers on adapting innovative methodology in imparting the English language will bring a giant change in English education in the future.

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