Claire has recently returned from a two-week trip to Cuba,
where once again she was working alongside Alan Pulverness from TransformELT (https://transformelt.com/) on the annual
ELT Roadshow. The Roadshow was organised by the British Council Cuba as part of
their collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education to support their new
English language policy, which aims to improve the level of English that is
attained by university students upon graduation. This year the focus was on the
CEFR and on the assessment of speaking and listening.
This year, Alan and Claire presented their plenaries and
workshops at University ‘Marta Abreu’ of Las Villas, Santa Clara and University
Enrique José Varona University of Cuba, Havana. They were joined by Tom
Connelly (TransformELT) and Robert Williams (University of Westminster), who
ran parallel sessions in University Oriente in Santiago de Cuba and University
In addition to the 50-tertiary level, highly qualified and
experienced English teachers, who attended the three-day events at each university,
this year’s plenaries were also attended by junior and senior high school
teachers, and undergraduates, which made for an interesting dynamic. Claire
would like to thank all the participants for their enthusiasm and participation
during the sessions. She would also like to thank all those involved in the
planning of the Roadshow, which is a significant undertaking, and the
universities for their kind hospitality.
Last week Claire paid a return visit to Skopje to run Part 2 of the Trainer Development workshop for the experienced team of English language teachers, who teach military personnel in the Army of the Republic of Macedonia. In this second stage of the training, the participants had to design and deliver 50-minute workshops on a topic of their choice, with a target audience of less experienced local English language teachers in mind. The topics they selected predominantly focused on teaching with technology and included: using QR codes; using infographics; using computer corpora for vocabulary teaching; activities to promote speaking and – roleplays/simulations; and teaching vocabulary with online dictionaries.
The teachers had put a great deal of thought into the selection of their topics prior to the workshop and worked hard on the design during the preparation stage of the course. Their hard work paid off and Claire, along with her co-trainers, Snezana Stojanovska, Head of Foreign Language Training Centre and Natasha Andonova Jovanovska, a senior member of the teaching team, were impressed by the high quality of their workshops. It is hoped that with their newly acquired skills they will be able to train local and regional English language teachers, when the opportunity arises.
Claire would like to take this opportunity to thank the UK Defence Attaché, Lt. Col. Andrew Layton MBE, for closing the workshop and presenting the certificates.
Last week, Claire paid a return visit to Skopje to run a Trainer Development workshop for the Macedonian Army Forces English language teachers on behalf of the British Embassy, see: https://en-gb.facebook.com/ukinmacedonia/. The aim of this workshop was to support the teachers in their transition to trainers, so that they can share their knowledge and experience with local, regional, and in-time, international peers.
A new development was that Claire had the support of two co-trainers for the first time namely, Snezana Stojanovka, Head of Foreign Language Training Centre and Natasha Andonova Jovanovska, both of whom had completed British Council trainer training workshops and delivered training sessions previously. Their help was invaluable and Claire looks forward to designing and delivering part two of the workshop in the New Year with them. The photos are courtesy of the British Embassy.
Claire has recently returned from her third trip to Bangladesh, which was in connection with the Cadet College English Improvement Project. Having run a training course and overseen an induction programme on her previous visits, this time she was there to collect data for the end of project evaluation that she is conducting. For this purpose, she visited Jhenidah Cadet College and Feni Girls’ Cadet College, spending two days in each. The schedule was intensive yet in each College she had meetings with the Principal, Vice Principal and Project Co-ordinator, carried out lesson observations, and held focus group meetings with teachers and cadets. Overall, she was incredibly impressed by the commitment of the academic staff, the calibre of the cadets, and the facilities that the colleges have to offer.
Claire would also like to take this opportunity to thank the respective Principals at these Colleges namely, Colonel Mohammad Sadikul Bari, psc and Mrs Jahanara Chowdhury for their kind hospitality. Furthermore, she would like to thank the teachers for their time, and the students for making her feel so welcome. Her thanks also go to British Council Bangladesh, in particular Delower Hossain and Shaon Karmakar, and the Co-ordinators in the respective Colleges namely, Assistant Professor Tareekul Haq, and Assistant Professor Badrun Nahar for ensuring that the programme ran so smoothly during her time in-country.
Claire has recently returned from a follow-up visit to Bangladesh, where once again she was working on the Cadet College English Improvement Project. In March of this year she had trained two teachers from each of the twelve cadet colleges to become trainers. On this occasion it was the turn of eight of those trainers to run an induction programme for twenty-four recently recruited subject and English teachers from the cadet colleges.
There were three main aims to this six-day event. Firstly, to provide the trainers with practical training experience using British Council materials. Secondly, to provide the new teachers with the essential knowledge, confidence, and practical experience to prepare them for using interactive methods of teaching. Lastly, for the subject teachers there was also a focus on developing their confidence in using English to manage their classrooms as their subjects are taught through this medium of instruction.
The feedback indicated that the course had been well-received, and the trainees identified a multitude of new techniques and activities that they plan to try in their classrooms. Claire would like to thank the trainers for the amount of time and effort that they put into preparing their sessions, and for their eagerness to develop as trainers. She would also like to thank the trainees for their active participation throughout this highly intensive course. We at McIlwraith Education wish them the best with their teaching and hope that they feel inspired by their new found teaching skills.
The value of this two-year project was recognised during the closing ceremony by the attendance of Major General S M Matiur Rahman, afwc, psc Adjutant General, Bangladesh Army, who gave a short speech on the importance of education and the teachers’ role, before presenting the certificates. Also in attendance were Dominic Spencer, Defence Adviser, British High Commission, Jim Scarth OBE, Deputy Director and Gaynor Evans, Head of English, British Council.
We have been delivering training courses for Peacekeeping English Projects (PEPs) in a number of places recently. Last week Claire was back in Zrenjanin, Serbia, running a five-day regional workshop called ‘Teaching with Technology Part Two’ for 18 military English teachers from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. This course built on what was covered during Part One in October and the main aim was for the participants to develop activities using a range of websites, tools and apps that could be integrated into their courses. The participants excelled by creating a far greater number of activities than anticipated, which can now be trialled with their learners.
Rob was in Macedonia after his three weeks working on the PEP project in Namibia. The Macedonian MOD has invested in a Moodle Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). This was set up to enhance delivery of courses, including English language instruction. The British Council organised a three day ‘Introduction to Moodle’ training course for English teachers in Skopje. Rob and Mirjana Ivancev, a consultant from Serbia, led the training of ten teachers and testers. Two teachers from Montenegro also attended and reported back to their MOD on the potential for Moodle. The topics covered included the pedagogy of online learning and practical hands-on experience of the platform in preparation for future course development. The teachers are planning to upload supplementary materials onto Moodle as a first step to gain experience before developing longer courses. In addition, the Macedonian Testing Team are considering uploading information about STANAG 6001 examinations and practice test materials.
Alistair has just returned from China. He was at the UN China Peacekeeping Police Training Centre (CPPTC) providing support and training for Superintendents from across the country who are looking to apply for higher-level, senior positions in the UN Police (UNPOL). Many of the participants had already had significant police peacekeeping experience with some having been on three missions abroad. Alistair was working with Maureen Brown, a former assistant chief constable of Central Scotland and former adviser to the EU and DFID.
Finally, I will be in Podgorica, Montenegro, next week to evaluate the PEP project there. I’m looking forward to it.
Namibia sees it as essential that their military can contribute to peace support operations in Africa and throughout the world; to help achieve this the Namibian Defence Forces and the British Peace Support Team based in South Africa agreed a further course in the training of Namibian Defence Force personnel for peacekeeping and interoperability, to build on the work done last July in Windhoek. This course, the fourth English language training event for Namibian Defence Force personnel, was held from the 8th to 26th February 2016 at the University of Namibia Khomasdal campus. The three-week intensive course was delivered by Rob and Nick Fletcher.
The course was designed to improve the English communication skills of NDF soldiers for peacekeeping purposes and concentrated on communication skills such as giving briefings, radio communication skills [through realistic practice with walkie talkies], and report writing. The twenty-nine participants did a lot of briefings on humanitarian assistance operations and problem-based scenarios, and role-played running checkpoints and vehicle searches (outside in the car park) to develop the practical skills which might save their lives in future operations.
Last week Claire paid a return visit to Skopje, Macedonia, to deliver her Teaching with Technology course to the Head of the Languages Department in the Macedonian Armed Forces and her team of English language teachers. Also attending were two English instructors from the Armed Forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, reflecting the drive towards greater regional cooperation. The course introduced the participants, whom Claire and the rest of the team has worked closely with on a couple of previous occasions, to a range of websites, tools and mobile apps that could be used in class or for self-study, in both low and high tech teaching contexts. The participants also learned how to use a number of tools and apps, to design materials using them, and had the opportunity to participate as learners in activities that they could incorporate in their syllabus. It was a pleasure to work once again with such a dedicated and enthusiastic team and Claire is looking forward to hearing how they blend technology into their language courses.
The Montenegrin Armed Forces and the British Council Montenegro identified a need for a short intensive course in Radio English for pre-deployment training and brought together nine teachers from Montenegro, Bosnia and Macedonia to create such a course. The teachers, facilitated by Rob, wrote and immediately trialled the course with a group of 14 soldiers, at the Danilovgrad base near Podgorica, over an intensive week of work. The result is a 20 hour course focused on revising and practising Radio English. The course has a very straightforward methodology and could be taught by soldiers in places where teachers are not available. The course will available to be used in all three countries and will provide an essential component of pre-mission readiness training.