Quality Assurance is a high priority for the company I work for. First of all, the students are our customers, so the company’s aims revolve around giving a high standard product that leaves the students feeling they made the right move to choose our company’s second language teaching course. For this piece of writing, I will outline some of the provisions my company and I have/use to not only keep the quality high but also to gain knowledge for improvement.
To promote equal opportunities
The courses I teach have students from many backgrounds, countries, and of varying ages. It is my job to accept all these people as achieving the goal of passing the course and being involved. For example, on the last course, there was a woman from Poland who was 28, an 18 year Englishman who was just taking his A levels, and an older Englishman of about 55 years of age. Taking these three as an example, they all had their reasons to be there, and the only way for them to pass the course was to work together as a group and as individuals. To promote this combination, my first job as their teacher trainer, as soon as they arrive, is to welcome them and get them introduced to each other, so they feel part of the group and they get the chance to meet each other. During the course, there are many pair-work and group-work activities, so it is my job to encourage collaboration between these kinds of people whatever their background. I promote peer and group evaluation where students constructively help each other. Eventually, when they come to complete their practice teaching in pairs there is encouragement from all the class towards a successful conclusion.
To identify, understand and learn from the factors which facilitate or hinder the students
The course has set modules, but within that, in my job as a trainer, I still have to make the students confident and knowledgeable about teaching a second language. In this respect, formative assessment is taken after each module to give feedback to the trainer, and for the students to be able to discuss how the course is progressing and their grasp of the facts so far. For example, one formative assessment has each of the students choosing to stand in a particular corner of the room which relates to their experience and knowledge of the class they just had. One corner may have the statement, ‘I have a question’. The students who stand in this corner have a chance to discuss issues they may have. They are then told to write down some questions they may have which are then discussed with the trainer and the rest of the group. The trainer can take away this assessment to improve on the next lesson while the students have been given a platform to voice their problems (good or bad). The reason for writing their ideas is that the trainer can take away the material and assess it to see for improvement.
Post Course Feedback from students
Once the students’ course is complete, they are sent a feedback form where they are given chance to comment on the course and the trainer that delivered the course content. That feedback is collated by my company and discussed with them internally. If need be I am contacted and made aware of issues that the students had or content that was valuable for the students. Correspondence is always made between myself and my manager post-course to discuss issues.
To set and achieve high standards and targets across all provision
For the 20 hours of study, a scheme of work and lesson plans are written detailing all aspects of the course. This makes provision for the encouragement of active learning while giving available time for the students to practice their teaching and discuss material. There are also resources for the students to use and contemplate over that show course content. The trainer also uses Prezi presentation facility to help students understand the content clearly.
Observation (form and feedback)
Over the 20 hours of study, the students complete two practice teaching lessons. They are given help in completing their lesson plans by the trainer. This sets them on the right path while lesson stages are discussed. This puts them in good stead for performing for the first time in front of the class. Once they start their practice teaching they are observed by the trainer who completes an observation form. This form is given to the students which includes all stages and the techniques they used in their lesson as well as comments on how they performed. There are also comments on what may need to be changed in their next practice teaching. This form is given to them for them to contemplate over and ask questions if need be. Also, after their teaching is finished as a group there is a feedback session where students can make comments on what they liked, and maybe what they would change. I feel this gives the students a holistic picture of where they are at with the course and their teaching.
Facilities for learning (To provide a safe environment)
The students are first welcomed outside the class. Coffee, tea, and biscuit are provided nearby. The students have seats and two sofas, so they can relax before the course starts. At times when there is a break, these facilities are used. The classrooms are adequate for the 15 to 20 students there are. There is a good size screen for the projector for the students to observe the course content. The table and chairs are put into a U shape which encourages discussion. The heating in the room is put on before the students arrive, so once they have had their coffee they are welcomed into the warm classroom. The provision for food is excellent as below the classroom there is a restaurant, and within 3 minutes walk, there is a newsagent and a Tesco store that sells less expensive food (sandwiches, crisps, and drinks).
Referring to my first language learning experience as a supposed language student, I had a few times when I was not really involved and missed a few points, but why did I miss these few points? Maybe it was because I am that type of learner who does not get into a lesson straight away. Suddenly your SIT trainer says, ‘right let’s learn German’ and you are like, ‘okay, if you want’. The same as when your teacher could say let’s learn ‘modals’ and you like ‘we learned that last week’. The point is, it is still valid and a learning experience.
There were some people and me especially at that time where the visual experience of watching other people was enough, I was not ready to join in. I did not know at the time if this was a mistake or not. I must admit I found it a little boring to start. I think that some learners could find this experience a little embarrassing, suddenly speaking this new language. Maybe I did find it weird, so I enjoyed just sitting back and seeing others do the talking which some proudly did.
On the flip side, to this experience, I had many times when I sailed through everything because I did the work that the SIT trainer told me to do. I said the sentence she asked and I wrote things down. I think by this time I had got over the first language hurdle and maybe felt a bit at ease, also I got some of the questions right that boosted my confidence and thus I got the benefit out of the lesson which made me happier. I suppose for a language learner it is hard to be attentive all the time and at times the students would just prefer to be looking at the class happening and not playing an active part. Motivation is hard at times.
With reference to the ‘Learners Are Individuals’ handout I have read, It alludes to this point that there are many different styles of learning. You can not have a class of 20 students all with exactly the same way of learning. Some students know grammar better, some are more confident in speaking, some want to write all the facts and some just in the class to have fun. I empathize with some of these points as I sometimes hear my peers talk about, and they have a lot more to say or they explain a point better than the way you thought. My reaction to this is that we are all the class together, and it should be a shared experience. If you have this shared experience I think it will make for a better atmosphere, general variety of ideas, and the class feeling that they all worked as a group. I think that everyone should benefit from everyone although there are some students more salient. Hopefully, they do not take over.
I think this learning experience gives me a broader perspective to look at the fact that there are many elements to a learning classroom experience and what I take from being a learner is to try and apply what I have learned as a student to the classroom. I think what I have done will influence my teaching by realizing that students find learning difficult as much as I did. I will find in the class some students are better than others where I will have to help the weaker students and not let the others go too far ahead. For example, I found the German language learning experience enjoyable because I was working with other students and listening to them say the words. I actually found it funny at times. This I think it is great that you can have a group of people working together learning from each other. Group work is definitely a plus. My final point is not to give them too much information; I found from my German class that it should be taken stage by stage. I think if you provide sufficient information and do not baffle the students with too much, the lesson will go better. What you are left with is a feeling that you can empathize with the students’ needs and thus you will be able to bring that extra dimension that will help the students to achieve.
An example would be SIT trainer’s class on ‘problems and advice’. The step-by-step process using PPU (presentation/practice/use) allowed the students to learn about giving advice. The SIT trainer gave a real experience to start with, she explained that her clothes were old and she did not have enough money to buy new ones. She acted this out and it made you really feel for her. It made for some good advice from the students. As a learner, you were already getting into the lesson. This method was very easily done and the students had a lot of advice for her. She did the same for her tax problem where she did not have enough money to pay the tax man. The advice given was attached with modals. Now, we had to distinguish between serious and not serious which led to looking at the modals. This was a good introduction to the start of the class and I think the process got everybody thinking. These were real problems that I think everybody had had before, so her method was a good way of presenting the subject. I think, as a learner if the lesson relates to something the class knows it will work. She also had cards with problems on them for us to judge if they were serious or not serious. I guess this was a more practice situation. The SIT trainer was trying to see if we knew serious and not serious. This was another way to clarify what we were learning about. As a student, I felt I was much clearer with the subject. I think this method of clarification helps all individual members of the group who are all of the different aptitudes. We worked as a group with the SIT trainer making sure everybody had a chance and I felt as though the group moved along nicely. We had pair work trying to match problems with advice on the worksheet. In pairs was a great way to get the students together. I like the pair work as a learner because we can help each other. Finally, we had a chance to do group work and speak to all the students. This varied structure and interesting parts made for a better class. I think if I were that ESL student the class would have instilled that knowledge of giving advice because of the systematic way of keeping the students attentive with varying teaching techniques.