“Students are now more able to use English than before this training, when I didn’t have so much speaking or interaction in my classes.”
The Leaders of English Education Project (LEEP) is now in its fifth and final year. At a recent conference where we brought together Teacher-Leaders from the first four years of the project, we spoke with some Teacher-Leaders about the difference the training had made to them, their students and other teachers in their area. Mr Kazayuki Osako, a Senior High School teacher from Yamagata, shares his experiences with us.
The intensive training
“I had never experienced a teacher-training course like this before”, said Mr Osako. “Two five-day intensive blocks of listening to English all day long and writing daily reflection essays – it felt like being abroad. It is a tough, dense and very meaningful course.”
After urging this year’s participants to make the most of the experience, Mr Osako went on to explain the merits of the training, as he sees them. “We don’t generally have time to find out about evidence-based teaching strategies in our busy lives at school. Through this training we were given the rationale for each teaching technique and activity we learned, and as a result I understood clearly what to do and why. I now find myself thinking, ‘this is the right time to try out this approach’ and ‘now let’s give this task a go’”.
The impact on students
Mr Osako has noticed that his students are now more confident users of English, “I often start my classes with a ‘warmer’ where students ask and answer simple question in English. Students are now more able to use English than before this training, when I didn’t have so much speaking or interaction in my classes”. He has also seen the benefits of incorporating thinking time into his planning: “In each learning activity I now make sure to plan time for students to think. As a result, over the last two years, I have noticed that students who previously were getting low test scores have started to improve their ability to think, and have gained confidence and improved their scores.”
The impact on other teachers
Mr Osako also reported positive results from the cascade training that he led in his local area. “I trained 20 teachers in my area. Looking through their feedback forms, I found that most of the teachers liked the fact that activities such as writing and reading were staged in small steps, and have tried this out with their own students. Many of them said that this has had positive results and that their students have responded well to the changes. At the start, a couple of teachers said that although the suggested activities looked good, they didn’t think they would work with their students. However, after trying them out in class they changed their minds.”