ConceptTeachers’ beliefs can change if the input is carefully designed for intake
If your interest has been fired by the ideas we have presented in this course, you may be thinking about how to share the ideas with your colleagues. Sharing can be done informally, when the need arises and/or the opportunity presents itself. But you could also take a more pro-active role, and plan to do something more organised. If so, there are (at least) two questions to think about: when to share and how to share.
On the question of ‘when’, it may be that your boss is looking for volunteers to run workshops (e.g. as part of in-service training—a requirement for teachers in many contexts). If not, you may have to persuade your boss to allow you to organise a special event or to use fifteen minutes at the beginning of another meeting for a brief discussion. Perhaps if you really have only fifteen minutes, you could give out a question or a short task and ask people to report their opinions at the beginning of a subsequent meeting. You could justify your request to hold a workshop or use some meeting time by reminding colleagues that ideas about English are changing and suggesting that your institution keep up-to-date with these changes. ‘Selling’ your offer as a way of renewing or freshening up your teaching (and your department or school’s reputation for forward thinking) might be enough to convince a reluctant manager. In our experience however, teachers who offer free training are almost always taken up on their offer!
The question of ‘how’ to share your ideas is more difficult and the answer will depend on your circumstances. Because teacher education is a compulsory part of most teachers’ careers, however, there are plenty of accessible sources for research findings that can help you.
In DepthDesigning input for intake
Here is an extract from an account of a research project conducted in Hong Kong to raise secondary school English language teachers’ awareness of process writing (Pennington, 1996, p. 340). It makes an analogy with the concepts of input and intake, used to describe the difference between the language that learners receive (input) and the subset of that input they actually pay attention to and can learn from (intake). The idea is that in raising awareness, the information you provide (input) must become intake for it to be meaningful and have potential effects on your colleagues’ beliefs and actions.
The words in the passage are Martha Pennington's, but we have re-formatted part of her paragraph as a list. Read through it and think about the teachers you might try to share your ideas with.
Drawing on the distinction between input and intake first proposed by Corder (1967, 1971) and later developed by Krashen (1981, 1982), it can be said that in teacher change, input does not equal intake. Rather, teachers take in only those aspects of the available input which are accessible to them. Accessible input refers to those types of information which teachers are prepared to attend to because of:
1. a high awareness and understanding of the input;
2. coupled with favorable attitudes such as pre-existing interest in the input;
3. or positive attitudes towards the form input
4. or positive attitudes towards the person giving the input;
5. a strong recognition of a need for input or change;
6. or a strong feeling of discomfort at a pre-existing clash of values.
In contrast, input for which teachers have low awareness, low understanding, or unfavourable attitudes is inaccessible input in whole or in part and will consequently have little or no impact in the way of teacher change.
Which of the six characteristics in the list above describe your colleagues' knowledge and attitudes? Which of the issues raised in this course are relevant for each characteristic? How might you deal with them in order to maximise the effectiveness of your input in an awareness-raising session?
FeedbackAs we said earlier, your response to this task will depend on your circumstances and the circumstances of your colleagues. Having said that, here are our comments and suggestions about the six characteristics necessary for effective teacher education:
(a) Teachers should have a high awareness and understanding of the new input
We think this means that teachers need and want to understand new ideas about English before they are able to confidently and effectively use them in their classes. We hope you have enjoyed reading the ideas, analysing the data and doing the activities in this course. Our materials are published under a Creative Commons licence which means that you are free to re-use any of our content for your own teacher development workshops (as long as you say where the content comes from). Perhaps you could re-format parts of this course to create a worksheet?
(b) Teachers should have favorable attitudes such as a pre-existing interest in the input
It is likely, as language teachers, that your colleagues are already interested in the diversity of English they have heard and that they have a range of positive and negative feelings towards this diversity. They may be very interested to hear some more examples of Englishes (e.g. from the International Dialects of English Archive and the Electronic World Atlas of Varieties of English). Your colleagues' feelings about this diversity will be a very interesting topic for discussion. You can ask them why they have these feelings, who may be advantaged and disadvantaged by their judgements and what the consequences of all this diversity might be for their students. Such a discussion is guaranteed to generate an interest in the topic of Englishes, especially if you throw in some of the ideas you have come across in this course!
(c) Teachers should have positive attitudes towards the form of input
We have tried to design this course in a way that is interesting to look at, and many of our pictures and tables are available for you to re-use as part of any worksheets you may produce. We have broken up the information into sections to avoid overload and provide a sense of progression. We have personalised the topics where possible and asked you to contribute your own ideas. In addition to telling you what we think, we have encouraged you to reflect on your own beliefs. You may know your colleagues quite well and, in addition to these general principles, will be in a good position to judge what form your input should take in order to be appealing.
(d) Teachers should have a positive attitude towards the person giving the input
Hopefully your colleagues already have a positive attitude towards you!
In addition, you can do what we have done in this course: call for back-up from other experts in our field. You can use any of the quotations we have provided from teachers and scholars (attributing the source or giving the academic reference).
Here are some useful sources (see the Resources section for full details):
● For a readable account of the rapid pace of change in English usage discussed in this course, and its implications for global educational policy and practice, you could tell your colleagues about David Graddol's British Council 2006 report English Next.
● For an introduction to Englishes from around the world and implications of this diversity for teaching, you could try Andy Kirkpatrick's textbook World Englishes (2006).
● For more information about Global Englishes and some practical ideas for the classroom, try one of the following:
o Principles and Practices of Teaching English as an International Language (2012), edited by Aya Matsuda;
o the very similarly titled Principles and Practices for Teaching English as an International Language (also 2012) edited by Lubna Alsagoff, Sandra Lee Mckay, Guangwei Hu and Willy A. Renandya;
o Yasemin Bayyurt and Sumru Akcan’s edited collection Current perspectives on pedagogy for English as a lingua franca (2015) which focuses on ELF;
o the more recent Global Englishes for language teaching (2019) by Heath Rose and Nicola Galloway; or
o Tim Marr and Fiona English’s Rethinking TESOL in diverse global settings. The language and the teacher in a time of change (also 2019).
(e) Teachers should have a strong recognition of a need for input or change
We designed the Self-Assessment Tool that you used at the beginning of this course to get you thinking about some of the ideas presented in this course and how your own ideas might have been similar or different to ours. If your teachers have access to computers, they could also do the self-assessment. If not, you could print the pdf version of the self-assessment and ask them to do it with pen and paper. The statements in the questionnaire and their answers might provide the starting material for one of your workshops.
(f) Teachers should have a strong feeling of discomfort at a pre-existing clash of values
Doing the self-assessment might show your colleagues that, while they hold quite plurilithic views about English as it is used outside of their classrooms, inside the classroom they become much more monolithic in orientation. If so, you could ask them how they reconcile these two opposing positions and what could be done to reconcile this clash of values.
Reflection 5.2We hope this section has helped you to reflect on when and how you might share the ideas in this course with your colleagues. Share your ideas (and experiences), as well as any obstacles and how you might overcome them, here.