Hi James Simmons,
RE: "For all those EFL teachers out there do you have any advice for me, especially from the vantage point of a trainer of teachers?"
Training teachers as a group must be the most challenging aspect in the field of education. For one thing, teachers do have their own perception on how best to teach their own domain. In retrospect, teaching teachers where to start with the ESL instruction for sure can be vexing. If I could just share my classroom experience on the subject, I would first introduce English Grammar to train teachers how to teach the English language. The objective here is to ensure English teachers are proficient in grammar rules and must be competent to teach writing without obstruction. My concept of training teachers how to teach English grammar instruction as an intro to learning English---goes beyond just showing them how to write intelligibly.
Teaching the usage of grammar also takes us beyond just knowing how to write well, it teaches us the mastery of the four areas of instruction: Reading; Writing; Listening and Speaking, prescriptively. In English, we read, write, and communicate from left to right and word order in a complete sentence does matter. For non-native English educators, grammar should be your ESL 101 class---an intro to learning the English language. I also believe---splitting out teaching the four areas of expertise takes away the toxin from students who sit in classrooms for a long period of time, (e.g., reading must be paired with writing; listening must be paired with speaking or communication) and teach each pair on separate days within a week. I have always taught my students all four courses for two hours twice weekly in college and university-a program called immersion and tired sitting in classroom after an hour. As we are all aware---it's best teaching students when they are wide awake and alert.
Logically speaking, on teachers training-smartboard or a white board is a great tool to illustrate key-points of grammar usage and ESL instruction. Thus, training teachers on how to teach difficult concept of grammar---in smaller nuggets to ESL students, is simply necessary. While that is certain, teachers must learn to eliminate enumerable knots embedded within grammar rules. ESL students are easily discouraged with grammar guidelines---teachers in training must find the right methodologies to teach it without being too verbose. I hope this suggestion is helpful to you James as well as for others.
What a gold mine of resources and good advice. I am definitely looking into that training of trainers course TESOL offers - that couldn't have come at a better time. I appreciate you reminding us all to know the situation our teachers are in. It seems easy to come in and assume what our teachers need and how they need it. A needs analysis would help clarify more precisely what those things are. Thanks so much!James
MerriLee,I liked your idea of teaching the pairings on different days of the week to keep things interesting and not too mundane. Grammar is a big issue here, especially as it relates to the teachers that are teaching others. You're last advice of eliminating enumerable knots was so good - there are so many cognitively burdensome aspects of English that are marginally beneficial and maybe not worth our time covering in our classes. Thank you for the well thought-out email and great advice!
The English grammar is the basic unit of learning the English language and there's no other way to get around it. That being the fundamental, you may have to take considerable time detangling some of the difficult grammar rules to teachers you are training. When grammar has been mastered, it's so much easier for teachers to plug & chug along the highway of teaching the higher levels of instruction (i.e., reading, writing and et al.). Be sure you as a trainer---would remember to give teachers in training a fair amount of recess time---to get some air and allow a brief discussion themselves. As for classroom students and as you may have been noticing---they do get tired after an hour sitting in classroom---the pairing idea you had mentioned earlier, would work best in this scenario. If push comes to shove, please feel free to peruse through my beginner ESL grammar book below. The book is concisely written and difficult rules are eliminated for easy understanding and mental retention---strictly designed for beginner. I highly recommend it for teachers in your neck of the woods. Click below. Good luck, James.