The workshop was funded by the Himalayan Education Lifeline Programme (H.E.L.P.) under the directorship of Jim Coleman and facilitated in Bhutan by Tshewang Choden, principal of the Druk School.
The participants were 17 teachers from Druk school, a prestigious private school in the capital Thimphu, and 7 teachers from three government schools – Babesa primary, Changbangdu Primary and Changzamtok Lower Secondary. There were originally 9 teachers from the government schools but two had to withdraw and their places were taken by teachers from Druk school.
The participants from the government schools were all experienced teachers of English and would, at the start of the new academic year, conduct in-school training sessions (SBIP) for their colleagues on the content of the H.E.L.P. workshop. The majority of the teachers from Druk school were also experienced and many of them held positions of responsibility among the staff. However, there were also several newly-appointed young teachers whose experience of teaching English was not as great as their colleagues.
All were enthusiastic, hard- working and a pleasure to work with. They worked well with one another, participated actively and discussed ideas and issues robustly. There was a positive and purposeful learning atmosphere throughout. There were occasional absences due to other school commitments (it was exam time) but otherwise punctuality and attendance was excellent.
The aims of the workshop were
– to broaden Ps’ repertoire of techniques for teaching English and other subjects through English
– to enhance Ps’ proficiency level in English both implicitly (through discussion of teaching techniques) and explicitly (through specific language improvement sessions)
– to develop Ps’ skills in classroom management and use of classroom language
A draft proposal had been sent to Ms Choden in advance and her suggestions were incorporated into the final timetable. Options were also negotiated with the participants at the beginning of the workshop. The final timetable is given in Appendix A.
The morning sessions focused mainly on language improvement for the participants. The afternoon sessions, and a few in the morning, consisted of methodology sessions. A task-based, experiential approach was used throughout.
A bright, spacious room and equipment were provided at Druk school and the administrative staff also did all the photocopying. Two of the participants, Dechen Namgyal and M.B.Mongar were designated as helpers and I am extremely grateful for their help and support.
Course evaluation – by participants
The figures and comments were overwhelmingly positive. All of the participants found the course content ‘excellent’ (15) or ‘very good’ (9); and the teaching methods ‘excellent’ (23) and ‘very good’ (1). All the methodology sessions were mentioned as being particularly useful by at least one person but the most frequently cited were pronunciation activities (8), language games (7) and preparing teaching aids (6). Other topics receiving at least 4 mentions each were classroom language, and listening activities.
All commented on how the seminar has broadened their teaching repertoire and/ or raised their awareness of some aspects of teaching of the English language, particularly word stress, and how they would try to implement some of the ideas and techniques into their lessons.
There were 5 negative comments on the fact that making sounds to identify punctuation marks was not useful .
Regarding the language improvement sessions, the sessions on pronunciation, stress and intonation, together with formal and informal language each received the highest ratings (9) for being the most useful.
The question on what was not covered but they would have liked to have done elicited the responses – more on pronunciation(3); use of modern technology (3); reading and assessment (1);different teaching strategies to cater for senior students (1).
The remaining participants felt everything was covered.
Everybody stated they would like to attend another seminar in the future with one person suggesting one for teaching literature also.
The final comments were all very positive and included mention of the approachability and confidence of the trainer/facilitator and how well-informed she was about her subject. Comments were also made about how enjoyable and interesting the workshop was
Course evaluation – by trainer/facilitator
I think the workshop was a success with everyone gaining something from it, even the most experienced. The work on pronunciation and stress, both from the point of view of teaching their students and for their own language proficiency seems to have been the most useful topic and also the most challenging.
Thanks to Ms Choden for her help and support.
4 August 2012