Upskilling The English Language Trainer
With English language practically becoming a must-have to climb the social and professional ladder, there is an urgent need to upskill the trainer to yield effective results!
If India has to cash in on its huge and profitable demographic dividend, it has to invest intention, purpose and financial support to training the youth. One of the many important aspects of training, apart from soft skills, is the proficiency in English language use. Demand for this skill has grown owing to the upping of the spread of service sector and due to global acceptance of the language. David Graddol, in a British Council publication, English Next India observes, ‘Private schools have multiplied in India and a recent notable trend has been for poor families, in both rural and urban areas, to send their children to private schools. Part of their motive is to allow their children to acquire English.’
There has been a concomitant increase in the emphasis that language training received in schools, colleges and in professional spaces, are receiving. However, this brings to a sharp focus, the effectiveness of the training imparted and the trainer’s own skilling requirements.
Trainers and teachers need to be on their toes and have an ear to the ground in so far as latest teaching methodologies and training approaches are concerned. One’s own capacity building is a must follow policy, lest you should be left behind in the constantly changing teaching-learning scenario globally! Graddol notes, ‘Existing English teachers who have spent their careers teaching grammar and literature may not have the skills to teach spoken English – now regarded as the starting point for most English curriculums.’
Keeping abreast of the latest teaching methodologies, approaches to teaching and classroom practice will make for an informed trainer.
Apart from qualities such as of that being an empathetic facilitator, here are some essentials for an English language trainer!
Knowing the learner
The first language of a child is his mother tongue that is acquired without any formal teaching. The English language trainer has to be careful with this aspect of the trainee. Giving him/ her time to adjust to a new mode of communication, suggesting options to avoid Mother Tongue Interference(MTI) and literal translations, will go a long way in cementing the bond between the one being taught and the teacher. Of course, having a pleasing personality, creating a non-threatening atmosphere and a two-way, open feedback will also serve as a value add.
Language is like no other subject, most often than not, our schools and colleges teach English as a subject and hardly as a means of communication. There needs to be a stress and focus on the meaning of the utterance and; in real time situations as proposed by the many proponents of Communicative Language Teaching methodology, all over the world. Learner’s own context and the context of the language item being taught are of importance here. Role plays, information gap activities and a focus on all the four skills of reading, writing speaking and listening should be tackled in the classroom.
Evaluation versus assessment
So you have taught the entire course or module and now you would like to check back with the learner on his/her enhancement of the language. What do you do? You first highlight the need to read extensively, expose the trainee to different language input like podcasts, video’s, animation etc., emphasise on the need to self-checking, correcting and peer feedback. Ensure that you evaluate the proficiency of the language and not an academic understanding of it, where spoken English is concerned. The aim will differ from the area of English Language you focus on. Keep your key areas of training in mind and try not to pile too much on it at one time. Know that the results will be slow but steady, have patience and ensure that each trainee gets a fair chance to prove his/her improved proficiency. Give and seek honest feedback and maintain a continuous, comprehensive round-up of each trainee’s performance. Suggest tips and ways they can enhance their language acumen, in their own time. More importantly, know that language learning should and is life-long. Using the language is an important pre-requisite for sustaining longevity and enrichment!