Teachers in Nam Dinh, Vietnam, stepped out of their comfort zones and put down their coursebooks to bring a more learner-centred style of teaching into their classroom.
"I understand the idea of clear learning outcomes. It is not necessary to be a slave to the coursebook. I use fewer activities."
The teachers spent 60 hours learning about and practising learner-centred approaches, using the British Council’s Teaching for Success materials. The training also took the teachers back into their classrooms where they were observed, and observed others teaching.
Some of the most successful elements of the training were practical in nature. Observed by the teachers, the trainers entered local classrooms to teach classes of up to 50 students at a time. Some teachers were dismissive of learner-centred approaches, stating they were worried about losing control, but they were then shown real-life examples of learner-centred classes, in their own classrooms, with positive results. Most students were enthusiastic, engaged and willing to think outside the box. While the demonstration lessons did not always go according to plan, this provided the basis for useful analysis and discussions back in the training room, giving teachers the chance to think about how activities could be adapted to work in their specific contexts.
To help develop their reflective practice, to better evaluate their own lessons in future, the teachers were also observed in real classroom situations by the British Council trainers and their peers.
By the end of the training the teachers showed real changes in their approaches to teaching English. Some teachers had been observed prior to the training and they were observed again a few months afterwards. They were also interviewed to provide further insight into the extent to which their teaching had changed.
The results from these observations and interviews were overwhelmingly positive. Prior to the training most of the teachers would work mechanically through all the activities in the coursebook, providing very few opportunities for learners to use the language communicatively. After the training the teachers showed great willingness to branch away from the coursebooks, taking a more considered approach to staging their lessons to ensure that clear learning outcomes were met.
"My students really like the change in my teaching. I apply some steps before teaching speaking so they feel more confident. I need this change."