Rob recently spent four days in Skopje, Macedonia, working with the Macedonian Testing Team to moderate reading and listening test items for STANAG 2 and 3. The team worked very hard on revising the items and writing new types of items for their exams. The moderated items now need to be trialed. He had time to fit in a day’s trout fishing on the beautiful Radika River to catch four Macedonian trout before moving on to Minsk. But more of that next time…
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, and Lidija Ognenova, Defence and Security Project Officer, British Embassy, for organising the training event.
Claire has recently returned from a two-week trip to Cuba, where she, along with her colleague Alan Pulverness from TransformELT, acted as a plenary speaker and workshop facilitator on an ELT Roadshow.
The Roadshow was organised by the British Council in 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.
The Roadshow took place at universities in four provinces: University Oriente in Santiago de Cuba, University Holguin, University ‘Marta Abreu’ of Las Villas, and University San Geronimo of Havana. Sixty tertiary level, highly-qualified, and experienced English teachers attended each workshop, and they in turn will cascade the training to their colleagues. Claire would like to thank them for their positive response to, and active participation in, her workshops. She would also like to thank the universities for their kind hospitality.
Claire would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in the planning of the Roadshow and for their support during the trip especially Yailet Landrove, Omar Carralero, and Manuel from the British Council, Dr Santiago Rivera Pérez from the Ministry of Higher Education, Dr Eduardo Garbey from the University of La Habana, and freelance journalist José González Mosquera.
Rob was back in sunny Skopje last week for four days of intensive work with the STANAG Testing Team. They worked on the revised STANAG Level 2 and 3 Speaking Interviews. This involved reviewing the examination materials, standardising rubrics and tasks, listening to trial interviews and agreeing changes to the interview format and contents. The Team were very open to receiving feedback (even listening to themselves on the recordings), and developing their tests.
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.
Rob is back in the classroom trialling his new book: Military English: Tactical and Peacekeeping Operations, with the Latvian National Guard. The course is designed as a complete pre-deployment course for army soldiers and officers being sent on multi-national missions. It is aimed at students who have done two or more years of study in English and is pitched at an intermediate level (B1/STANAG 2). The course has three parts.
Phase 1 focuses on General English, General Military English and some specialized Military English. The General English units focus on the social side of missions (e.g. talking about role and responsibilities, career, family, home, sport, hobbies and interests, describing people). Military topics include the NATO phonetic alphabet, force structure, formations and purpose, different kinds of forces e.g. mechanized infantry, armour etc, disposition of forces, different weapons and platforms. There are also 25 study pages of military acronyms, ten peacekeeping mission fact file reading tasks, five report writing tasks, and seventeen study/revision pages of functional grammar: these are to be set as homework tasks. This phase concludes with a test with four sections: Grammar, Reading, Writing and Speaking.
Phase 2 concentrates on specialized Military English. Topics include using the radio, the weather, terrain, land navigation, survival, medical English and Tactical Combat Casualty Care, describing position, bases and base defense, OPs, overwatch, convoys, IEDS and UXO, checkpoints, patrols, attacks, and understanding orders.
Phase 3 has a focus on solving tactical and peacekeeping problems. There are five tactical problems to solve, units on peacekeeping missions, ROEs, OPs, patrols, checkpoints, convoys, using interpreters, civil disturbances, and natural and man-made disasters, and five peacekeeping problems.
The course is being trialled before being published in 2018.
As spring arrived in the Western Balkans, near the end of March, Rob and Mirjana Ivancev visited Montenegro for the last seminar in the PELT project. English teachers from the Montenegrin Armed Forces (MAF) spent the week learning how to create Moodle materials and set up a Moodle course to support their CEFR B1 level face-to-face course. The course concentrates on listening skills, and the group scripted and recorded the texts, and then created pre-, during and post-listening tasks to go with them, and uploaded the tasks to Moodle. During the week Rob and Mirjana also met with the Danilovgrad Training Centre Commander, Lt. Col. Miodrag Vuksanović and discussed the Moodle set up which the training centre hopes to use for English language and other courses. The MAF is now committed to implementing a Moodle platform approach to on-line and blended learning, which means that it will be able to share courses with other PELT project countries, as well as develop other specialised courses.
We are delighted to learn that UNICEF and the South Sudan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MoEST) have agreed to move forward with implementation for the Primary English Language Policy plans that we drew up. Our plan was based on an extensive baseline survey we carried out across five of South Sudan’s ten states in 2015. In terms of implementation, there needs to be trained human resources to draw upon to move forward. These resources are English language trainer trainers and English language testers who will be able to provide long-term sustainability of MoESTs EMI ambitions. It is envisaged that these two cadres of professionals will work in tandem, although on two different project strands, towards the same EMI goal.
Stage 1 (Foundation) of the Policy Implementation includes a Needs Survey and Pilot Preparation phases. The first step is planned to be the creation of a cadre of 30 trained teacher trainers because, without teacher trainers, no training, or pilot, is possible. These trained trainers will be responsible for training trainee teachers as described in the Implementation Plan, i.e. teachers at P1-P3, P4-P8 and Specialist EFL teachers.
Following on from the PELT Conference, Claire remained in Serbia, moving up from Belgrade to the picturesque town of Novi Sad, to conduct a 5-day British Council Trainer Development Course, for a select group of Serbian Armed Forces teachers. This was their first step towards becoming a trainer, in which they were introduced to the essentials, and given the opportunity to design and deliver a 50-minute workshop. Their intention is now practice and hone their skills by providing in-house training and by cascading their knowledge gleaned from various PELT workshops to their colleagues, who were unable to attend them. Claire is also looking forward to seeing them run a workshop at a local and/or regional conference in the not too distant future!
In contrast, the Macedonian STANAG Testing Team and teachers from the Centre for Foreign Languages and the Military Academy spent an intensive week with Rob looking at reading and listening tasks for STANAG tests and progress and achievement tests, and created a set of tasks at different levels. The aim of the workshop was to explore alternatives to multiple-choice tasks which have dominated the task types their standardised tests. Using authentic materials the testers and teachers wrote a number of test items and peer-moderated these; they planned and managed the work processes themselves and showed that can work independently and effectively in test creation and support each other with open and critical feedback.
The theme of this year’s PELT Conference was ‘The Sustainability of Military ELT in the Western Balkans’. In addition to teachers, testers and trainers from Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, there were delegates from MODs and General Staffs from across the region. There were also Defence Attaches from the UK, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States and, of course, delegates from the British Council from participating countries. Special guest speakers included consultant, George Pickering and NATO BILC Secretary, Emilija Nesheva, who are pictured here along with Colonel Simon Fitzgibbon, the UK Defence Attache in Belgrade.