Challenges for Foreign English Language Teacher Education Programme in Mozambique with Focus on Zambézia Teacher Training Colleges

London Journal of Research in Humanities and Social Sciences
Volume | Issue | Compilation
Authored by Gregorio Jorge Goncalves , Amos Moses Chauma
Classification: NA
Keywords: English language, teacher trainee, teacher training programme, pedagogical perspective, teacher education.
Language: English

Mozambique is a country surrounded by English language speaking countries such as: Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania and Zambia. The use of English language in the country is of paramount importance in several ambits such as education, politics, economy, trade and social communication and interaction. However, the practice of English language teaching constitutes a challenge for English language teacher trainers and teacher trainees in the Teacher Training Colleges in Zambézia province. This article discusses the challenges faced by English language teacher education programme for primary schools in Zambézia province, in Mozambique. The study employed a qualitative approach using a a case study of three Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) for training primary school  teachers  designated as TTC A, B and C. The paper discusses the challenges  the programme faces and presents suggestions for the improvement of the programme. To generate results the researchers used interviews, document analysis and focus group discussion as a means of data generation. The authors analysed the data generated and discuss the findings taking into account the responses from the participants and the real situation observed in the field where the research took place. Through the analysis from the interviewees, focus group discussion and information from the documents it was concluded that lack of constant interaction among English language teacher trainees, teacher trainers’ commitment at the TTCs and lack of continued professional development for TTCs teacher trainers are some of the critical challenges that teacher trainers and teacher trainees face during the implementation of the English language teacher training programme for primary schools in Zambézia province.


Challenges for Foreign English Language Teacher Education Programme in Mozambique with Focus on Zambézia Teacher Training Colleges

Gregório Jorge Gonçalvesα  & Amos Moses Chaumaσ




Mozambique is a country surrounded by English language speaking countries such as Malawi, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zambia. The use of the English language in the country is of paramount importance in several ambits such as education, politics, economy, trade, and social communication and interaction. However, the practice of English language teaching constitutes a challenge for English language teacher trainers and teacher trainees in the Teacher Training Colleges in Zambézia province. This article discusses the challenges faced by the English language teacher education program for primary schools in Zambézia province in Mozambique. The study employed a qualitative approach using a case study of three Teacher Training Colleges (TTC) for training primary school teachers, TTC A, B and C. The paper discusses the challenges the program faces and presents suggestions for the improvement of the program. To generate results, the researchers used interviews, document analysis, and focus group discussion as a means of data generation. The authors analyzed the data generated and discuss the findings taking into account the responses from the participants and the real situation observed in the field where the research took place. Through the analysis from the interviewees, focus group discussion and information from the documents the study concludes that lack of constant interaction among English language teacher trainees, teacher trainers’ commitment at the TTCs and

lack of continued professional development for TTCs teacher trainers are some of the critical challenges that teacher trainers and teacher trainees face during the implementation of the English language teacher training program for primary schools in Zambézia province.

Keywords: english language, teacher trainee, teacher training program, pedagogical perspective, teacher education.


In 2004, in Zambézia Province in Mozambique, pupils from grades 6 and 7 started learning the English language. The pupils in cities or urban areas had trained teachers, and while the majority of the pupils in the countryside had untrained teachers, who were being simply guided by pupils and teachers’ course books. Mawere (2012, p. 40) observes that “the newly introduced subjects like English remains with a critical shortage of resources such as textbooks, classrooms and qualified teachers”. As result, the fact that pupils learn English taught by untrained and unqualified teachers impacts negatively on their English language competence and performance.

Many scholars around the world have conducted studies in the field of teacher training, including English language teachers courses for both users of English as a second as well as a foreign language. Some of the studies advocate first-class preparation for quality products at the end of the process. In this regard, the training of English language teachers for primary schools in Zambézia Province in Mozambique needs particular attention. Passos (2009) rightly stresses that “the goal defined in the new policy in Mozambique is to develop in trainees the competency to teach in primary schools” (p. 36). Hence, teacher performance should reflect identifiable knowledge, skills and attitudes, and appropriate personal attributes, within a specific curricular or professional area.  Through the English language teachers’ debates, people make many claims regarding the quality of English, and language teachers trained at the primary teacher training colleges in Zambézia Province. Passos (2009, p. 6) contends that “The Ministry of Education and Culture recognizes that the quality of education and teacher training provided in institutions is often poor.” Worse still, the areas that the Ministry of Education recognizes and specifies as requiring more attention do not include the English language teacher training program. Ironically, the Mozambican Education Strategic Plan from MEC/INDE (2006, p. 43) observes that “well trained and motivated teachers are essential for quality teaching”.


The challenges to teacher training are lack of English language skills and competence, English language policy in education, quality of teacher training, professional development for the TTCs[1] trainer, teacher trainers’ commitment at the TTCs, lack of constant interaction among English language teacher trainees, and the change of language of instruction from Portuguese to English in some courses. The study also contributes to a better understanding of the challenges of the English language, and teacher training program.

It is common knowledge that the purpose of all who are called teachers is to engage students in learning activities that facilitate teaching and learning. Hence, the teachers need to know to how facilitate teaching and learning process by involving themselves in on-going teacher education professional development programs. According to Heyworth (2013), in the United States, the Standards for Foreign Language Education (2005) set quality standards for language teaching that put the emphasis on what students can do by identifying cognitive development, as well as communication skills.


The constitution of the Republic of Mozambique published in 1975, 1990 and 2004, does not state anything about the use of English language in Mozambique, although the country’s primary and secondary school syllabi state that English must be learned as a foreign language to help Mozambicans communicate with people from foreign countries. This disparity represents a gap that language planners, for policy makers can suggest to constitution-makers of the Republic of Mozambique to address. The reasons for learning English in Mozambique may be several; some may be common while the end may be due to particular program reasons such as business, traveling abroad, studying abroad, and receiving guests from abroad.

According to the 2003 INDE/MINED Curriculum Plan for Basic Education, the introduction of the English in primary education has the following reasons: first, geographically, most Southern African countries have English as their official language. Second, Mozambique is a member of the Southern Africa Development Community and of the Commonwealth, which uses English as the language of business. Third, from a global perspective, most social and economic interactions worldwide occur in English. Thus, Mozambique English introduced English in grades 6 and 7, to provide students with the basic vocabulary and language for communication. However, the quality of English language teaching in primary schools is still a challenge.                                                                                                                                                          

In a study conducted in Mozambique, Passos (2009) reveals that “the problem of teacher competence is not related only to the level of teacher instruction but also to the level and quality of training” (p. 46). The preparation that teachers receive before beginning their work in the classroom, however, varies significantly around the world and even within the least developed countries. In Zambézia’s colleges, English language teacher trainees do not undergo preparation before getting enrolled in the colleges. Moreover, these teacher trainees have a very undersized period of teacher training, which is only one year, equivalent to two four-month long semesters.

Richards (2003) identifies key questions related to the significance of language proficiency of second language teachers, namely, “the components of language proficiency that are most crucial for language teachers, and the interaction between the language proficiency the natural of the teaching skill” (p.7). Furthermore, there is recognition among several scholars that the teacher competence influences the learner performance. No matter how the school is organized in terms of infrastructure, there is a need to note that teachers with no positive attitudes towards teaching and helping learners in their weaknesses may negatively influence the students’ performance. If a teacher rigorously attends to the students’ preoccupations, he or she cares about the learners’ performance and encourages the learners learning through positive and punctual feedback and enjoyable lessons, the learners may feel motivated to improve their failures. However, English language scholars have not done much in an attempt to find out the challenges faced by the English language teacher education program for primary schools in Zambézia, in Mozambique. Hence, this study investigated the challenges faced by the English language teacher education program for primary schools in Zambézia province, in Mozambique.


The theory of communicative competence was used to guide this study to analyze, examine, and discuss English language teacher trainees’ competences, which impact on the quality of the training program. Canale and Swain (1980) explain that Hymes, a sociolinguist is the proponent of communicative competence as opposed to Chomsky’s view on linguistic performance. Scarcella, Andersen and Krashen (as cited in Mustadi, 2012, p. 14) observe that “for Hymes, the ability to speak competently not only entails knowing the grammatical rules of a language but also knowing what to say, to whom in what circumstances and how to say it” (p.14).

Canale and Swain (1980) proposed a theoretical framework in which they outline the contents and boundaries of three areas; grammatical, sociolinguistic, and strategic competence. Sociolinguistic competence was further divided by Canale (1983) into two separate components; sociolinguistic and discourse. Thus, it is worth noting that while Hymes’ theory was under the sociolinguistic approach. Some teaching and learning studies use Canale, and Swain’s framework. Furthermore, the aspects of skills that are needed to employ the knowledge are now assumed to be part of one’s competence to use in daily and social life. As Hymes (2008, p. 31) observes, “a general theory of the interaction of the English language and social life must encompass the multiple relations between the linguistic means and social meaning”.

Thus, the researchers recognize that English language teachers trained in Zambézia, and colleges need to be fluent in communication in both receptive and productive skills to attain communicative and teaching competences. Furthermore, the researcher adopted the framework and added one more element apart from the four components, namely; linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse, and strategic. These were the four communication skills; listening, speaking, reading, and writing to generate feasible findings for the benefit of this study.

Sun (2014) notices that “Hymes’ attention to communicative competence inspired several models of such competence, the two world famous follow-up studies between 1980 and 1990 conducted by Canale and Swain (1980) and Bachman (1990)” (p. 1063). Sun (2014) further asserts that “a similar theoretical framework for communicative competence developed by Bachman (1988, 1990) and Bachman and Palmer (1982, 1996)” (p. 1063). In their 1996 model of communicative ability, Bachman and Palmer distinguished three components, namely; organizational knowledge, pragmatic knowledge, and strategic competence. According to Tarvin (2015, p.4), Canale and Swain (1980) use this definition to provide guidelines on developing communicative course syllabi, i.e, that grammar and sociolinguistics features not only to include in second language coursework but also to assess.

Some English language scholars have used a communicative competence theoretical framework to guide their studies. These scholars include Sun (2014), Mustadi (2012). Tuan (2017) stresses that:

There are many studies attempting to determine its effects on L2 learners (Breen and Candlin, 1980; Canale 1983; Canale and Swain, 1980; Fillmore, 1979; Kasper and Rose, 2002; O’Malley and Chamot, 1990; Oxford, 1990; Swain, 1985; Skehan, 1995; Tarone and Yule, 1989; Widdowson, 1978), (p.108).

The purpose of a language is to conveniently communicate with other speakers and convey sound and beautiful speech. In this regard, the communicative competence plays an important role in English language learning, teaching, and training. Therefore, there are two crucial aspects, which need to underline; the fact that communicative language teaching activities can provide teacher trainees’ oral practice and the fact that the purpose of learning a language is basically for communication. Bagarić & Djigunović (2007) argue that:

In the model of Canale and Swain, strategic competence consists of knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communication strategies that recall compensating for breakdowns in communication due to insufficient abilities in one or more components of communicative competence. These strategies include repetition, reluctance, avoidance of words, structures or themes, guessing, changes of register and style, modifications of messages etc (p. 97).

They are reinforcing the need for training teachers to express themselves competently as professionals, available will contribute to the quality of the teachers, and successful teaching in Zambézia’s primary schools and in Mozambique’s schools in general. To successfully achieve communicative competence, one needs to consider two elements, namely fluency and accuracy in English language production. The two mean producing correct sentences and addressing speeches conveniently, which is essential for language teachers. Regarding English as foreign language teaching, it is expected that teacher trainees get profound knowledge of the English language as social value to share with others within their social group.  The different aspects of a language are learned. Thus, training goes beyond learning in that it involves the acquisition of skills, competences, and professionalism.         

In other words, an English language teacher training program should be developed by preparing teacher trainees with communicative competence, language teaching approaches, employing oral methods through debates, improvised dialogues, role-plays, and all oral activities. Johnson (1992b) identifies “students’ understanding, students’ motivation and involvement, instructional management, curriculum integration, subject matter content, student’s language skills and ability, and student’s effective needs” (p. 127) as reasons for interactive decisions. Indeed, looking at the profession of an English language teacher in a Mozambican context, the introduction of English in the schools is, among many other reasons, justified for the purpose of communicating with foreigners as well as for the sake of globalization both of which require the application of teaching approaches and methods to meet learning goals. Heyworth (2013) observes that: a competency framework for teachers is a tool to enable classroom teachers to reflect on their professional effectiveness, to determine and prioritize areas for professional growth, to identify professional learning opportunities and to assist their personal and career development planning (p.288).

The communicative competence theory plays an important role in ensuring the quality of English language teacher training process. For many reasons, if by the end of a teacher training program, the English language teachers are equipped with communicative competence and communicative language teaching approaches, they can help their learners perform well in English classes. Savignon (as cited in Savignon 1997, p.3) uses the term communicative competence to characterize the ability of classroom language learners to interact with other speakers, to make meaning, as a distinct thing from their ability to recite dialogues or perform on discrete-point tests of grammatical knowledge. In the context of Zambézia Province, English language teachers trained at the primary school teacher training colleges find communicative language teaching a challenge. They find it easy to apply the approaches used in the Portuguese language, which are in some ways incompatible to those of English, bearing in mind that English must be taught as a foreign language.

                                                                                                                                    V.   MATERIALS AND METHODS

The qualitative approach was chosen for this study because the study was explorative in nature with the goal to understand phenomena around the quality of primary school English language teachers trained at the three Colleges in Zambézia province. Richardson, Peres, Wanderly, Correia and Peres (2010) go further to affirm that the studies which employ a case, and study research design, may describe the complexity of a given problem by analyzing the interaction of some variables, and classifying the dynamic processes shared by social groups.

                                                                                                                                            VI.   POPULATION AND SAMPLING                                            

The number of teacher training colleges is three, TTC A, TTC B and TTC C. In TTC A there were 38 English language teacher trainees in classes A, and in class B there were 37 English language teacher trainees. In TTC B, there were 38 English language teacher trainees, whereas in TTC C there were 31 teacher trainees. For the English language teacher trainers, TTC A had four teacher trainers, TTC B had two teacher trainers and a similar number for TTC C. TTC A had two classes in the year 2017. Whereas in TTCs B and C had one class each. Thus, the total number of English language teacher trainers in the three colleges was 8 and the teacher trainees were 144 corresponding to the target population group. Eight teacher trainees in class of each college took part in the Focused Group Discussions, that is, in the three colleges, 32 teacher trainees took part in the interview. The question of gender issue was considered. TTC A had two classes. The researchers selected eight teacher trainees from each class, four male teacher trainees and four female teacher trainees in each class in total there were 16 teacher trainees. For the teacher trainers’ interview, the researcher interacted with the eight teacher trainers. This was purposive sampling in which the subjects were selected taking into account the area of ​​training and their ability to provide the data.

  1. DATA GENERATION METHODS                                  AND TOOLS

For generation of data in this study, the researcher used three different generation methods; in-depths interviews, observation, document analysis and focus group discussion.

7.1  In-depth interviews  

According to Blaxter, Hughes and Tight (2006, p.172), “the interview method involves questioning issues with people. It can be a very useful technique for collecting data, which would likely not be accessible using techniques such as observation, and questionnaires.” Using the interview instrument, the researchers interacted with the English language teacher trainers, teacher trainees, and English language teachers trained in the same colleges within the years 2008 to 2012, who were working with more than four years of experience.

7.2   Focus Group Discussion   

According to Denscombe (2003, p.169), “focus groups consist of a small group of people, usually between six and nine in number, who are brought together by a trained ‘moderator’, the researcher to explore attitudes and perceptions, feelings and ideas about a topic”. For this study, the researchers had four Focus Group Discussions: two FGDs at TTC A, one FGD at TTC B, and one FGD at TTC C. Each group of FGD consisted of eight participants, four male teacher trainees and four female teacher trainees. At TTC A, one FGD took fifty-five, and thirty seconds, whereas the other FGD took fifty-one minutes, and four seconds. At TTC B, the interview with teacher trainees took forty-nine minutes and fifty seconds, whereas in TTC C, the interview with teacher trainees took fifty-nine minutes, and thirty seconds. A challenge occurred with one Focus Group Discussion at TTC A.

7.3  Non-participant observation 

Lynch (1996, p.125) “with passive or non-participant observation, one has more flexibility to sample across different teachers, classroom, or schools”. During lesson observations, the researchers sat at the back of the class, took notes through the observation guide and filled in the structured observation guide sheet without intervening in lessons. The non-participant position opted by the researchers had the advantages of carefully generating data through note taking, video-recording, and taking pictures, which were of paramount importance for deeper analysis and triangulation of the generated data.

7.3   Document analysis 

Lynch (1996, p.134) claims that “relevant documents include program brochures, official press releases, articles concerning the program, curriculum descriptions, policy statements, memoranda…charts and correspondence”. This research included the analysis of the following documents: the Teacher Training Curriculum Plan for Basic Education, Strategic Plan for Education and Culture 2006 – 2011, Strategic Plan for Education 2012˗2016, Primary School English Curriculum, the syllabi, schemes of work and lesson plans.  


In this section the researchers analyze and discuss the results of the research, which include the following: lack of continued professional development for teacher training colleges teacher trainers, teacher trainers’ commitment at the teacher training colleges, lack of constant interaction among English language teacher trainees, changing the language of instruction from Portuguese to English in some courses.     


English language teacher trainers from Teacher Training Colleges A, B and C lamented that they never had any meeting whereby they could discuss issues regarding their challenges and problems. The following statements from TT1 in TTC A, and TT2 in TTC B are pieces of evidence for lack of short developmental training where matters related to English language teaching could be shared. The verbatim quotes from the following teacher trainees provide evidence.

   First of all it would be very good if we had more workshops where we could meet all English language teachers from different educational institutes. So, from that [those] workshops, we should overcome some of our weaknesses. [TT1 - TTC A - 18/08/2017] 

   The only thing that we think that is missing is the opportunity for the teacher trainees to share experience among them even among teacher trainers. [TT1 - TTC B - 01/09/2017].                    

In this regard, it is important to note that in TTC B, there were two English language teacher trainers only who were teaching different subjects, likewise in TTC C. Logically, if one is teaching writing or reading courses, ideally, should meet at least once or twice during a year with other colleagues teaching the same courses in the other two teacher training colleges. A discussion cannot be fruitful if one shares the challenges or gaps in given courses with one who has not embarked on the same issues. As it was argued by the teacher trainer 2 from TTC C during the data generation, the following constitute part of the major challenges in his view:

    The typical challenges are: the syllabuses for Teaching Practice, ourselves as trainers we don’t have the chance to exchange information experiences, ideas of the same subjects we teach with other trainers in other colleges. Lack of resources, books, dictionaries, our library is very poor, coping: I have been giving PDF books, personal grammar and some books are used in the classroom. [TT2 - TTC C - 18/07/2017].

From document analysis, and on the last Mozambican Strategic Plan, it becomes clear that the Mozambican Government is aware of some of the challenges that the teacher training colleges and the teacher trainees face in the colleges, as it is underlined by the Mozambican Strategic Plan 2012-2016:

Improving the quality of education is a complex matter. The outcome of the educational process does not depend solely on the resources made available, but rather on a set of internal factors, including physical, psychological and socio-cultural factors, in which education plays…….. It also includes external factors such as families’ socioeconomic conditions, home/ school distance, commitment of parents and guardians, among others, (p.35).  

Though it may seem that a commitment regarding the quality of education in general is recent, the last but one Education Strategic Plan for Mozambique 2006 to 2011 recognized that there was a need to reflect on the quality of the teacher education for primary schools in Mozambique. In addition, The MEC/INDE Teacher Training Programme (2006, p.10) roughly focuses on research and innovation, thus it stresses that “training teachers for innovation does not simply mean providing them with knowledge…training means preparing them so that they are able to take their own initiatives in the local contexts in which the professional praxis will take place”. Therefore, the question that can be raised is on how one can make innovations in the teaching without teaching experiences and enough period of professional preparation. Attention to continued professional development for teacher trainers in training colleges is also shared by Rani (2016) who explains the following:

a professional culture of collaboration  has yet to become widely implemented in Teacher Education and there is an associated need to advance the development of quality and based on career-long perspective on teacher development, which include initial teacher education, induction and continuing professional development (p.136).

Therefore, the English language teacher trainers, and teacher trainees in the teacher training colleges seem to be forgotten by the Educational administrators at intermediate and top levels. The researchers focus is on the Provincial Directorate and the Ministry of Education, who should support them with the training process. Adekola (2007, p. 21) who postulates that “the lack of professional development as a teacher educator, specializing in fields of knowledge appropriate to primary school education, is common across other countries in Africa as international studies have shown”. Furthermore, the need to implement workshops or developmental training program is a must for the colleges. The trainers suggested that they should meet at least once or twice a year to discuss issues regarding the training program to improve teacher trainers’ performance and develop professional English language teaching competences.


The teacher trainers’ dedication and commitment was a point worth noting during the research. Lack of dedication and commitment of the teacher trainers was an issue raised by some graduate English language teachers, teacher trainees and a teacher trainer. Indeed, this challenge was also observed by the researcher in TTC A and TTC B, where some teacher trainers would not show up for classes. This behaviour showed lack of professionalism, and indirectly inculcated negative attitudes into the teacher trainees. The following quotes from a teacher trainer and a graduate English language trainee reinforce the need for teacher trainers’ commitment towards the teaching and learning process during the training process.

Teacher trainers should plan their lessons with activities that enable communicative competences. [TT2 - TTC1 - 21/08/2017]       

The trainers should be very well trained professionally with specific methodology, fluent trainers, approachable, and familiarized with each and every content. [GELT6 - TTC C - 22/09/2017] .       

The researchers believe that the teacher trainers’ behaviour may implicitly or explicitly influence the teacher trainees in their future career. It would lead to carelessness, lack of commitment to work, lack of lesson planning, and lesson improvisation.

Lack of constant interaction among English language teacher trainees

In Zambézia province, it was observed that some of the teacher trainees did not live in the hostels. This affected the teacher trainees’ performance on the grounds that they only shared their English language in the classroom and hardly outside the classroom in their daily conversation. This factor contradicts with the communicative competence theoretical framework, which demands the practice of English language in different settings, and with different social groups. The English language for this specific group of teacher trainees needs to be spoken and produced outside the classroom with colleagues, with other members of the same speech community such as teacher trainers, English language teachers from secondary schools, and teacher trainees from the university. The following quotation from the teacher trainee 1 in TTC C translates the worries which the researchers have been emphasizing.

Most of us live outside and we don’t have a place in order to share knowledge. So we need to share knowledge among trainees. The direction [board of managers] should prioritise English course trainees because of the language. The schedule of the timetable doesn’t provide us enough time because when we go home, it is almost late and it is difficult for us to perform outside activities. [FGD1 - trainee 1 - TTC C - 21/09/2017] 

Richards (2014, p.4) contends that “using English for social interaction in out-of-class situations provides many opportunities for learners to maintain and extend their proficiency in English”. Zambézia has got twenty-two districts and only three colleges offer the English language teacher training program for primary schools, namely: TTC A, TTC B and TTC C. It was the teacher trainees’ view through the focus group discussions that if they were all or the majority lodged in the hostels it would help much for the English language communication as they would be interacting in English every day and thus, fostering the communicative approach and sociolinguistic competence. 


Delivery of content using English language is another challenge for the English language teacher training program. Interviewees suggested changing the language of instruction from Portuguese to English in some subjects.  In addition, reducing the subjects delivered in Portuguese would enhance the quality of the training program. Teacher trainees would be exposed to the target language so that pedagogical technical terms and more language structure are acquired by them. The following quotes express evidence of such challenges:

The aspects I think undermine the English language teacher training program are the numerous subjects taught in other languages [Portuguese and Bantu]. I think such subjects should be taught in English. [GELT6 - TTC C - 22/09/2017]                       

The only thing that undermines the English language teacher training program is the lack of other English language subjects which are taught in Portuguese language and short duration of the training period. [TT1 - TTC B - 01/09/2017]

In 2017, the program had five subjects in Portuguese, and these were Psycho-pedagogy, School Organisation and Management, Fundamental Notions of Construction, Maintenance and School Production, Teaching Methodologies of Moral Education and Code of Conduct, and Mozambican Bantu Languages. From these five subjects, three should be taught in English and they would be advantageous for teacher trainees’ language use in terms of vocabulary range, language structure and linguistic competence. The three subjects include: Psycho-pedagogy, School Organisation and Management and Teaching Methodologies of Codes of Conduct. Delivery of the subjects in the target language would foster the teacher trainees’ linguistic proficiency through the learning and acquisition of English pedagogical terminologies.

According to Medgyes (as cited in Richards 2011):

Learning how to carry out these aspects of a lesson fluently and comprehensively in English is an important dimension of teacher learning for those whose mother tongue is not English. There is a threshold proficiency level the teacher needs to have reached in the target language in order to be able to teach effectively in English. A teacher who has not reached this level of proficiency will be more dependent on teaching resources for example (p. 3).

The researchers support the removal of some of the subjects delivered in Portuguese to give teacher trainees time to concentrate on subjects in the target language. By end of the training program they will be enriched with educational and pedagogical language from different perspectives which fit in the teaching and learning of English in primary schools and interaction with different speakers of English language. English language teacher trainers and teacher trainees at the three colleges, however, did not acknowledge any positive intervention from Provincial Directorate of Education in the training process as a mechanism of helping them with the challenges they faced in daily work. The National Directorate for Teacher Training (DNFP) should reflect on mechanisms to help the English language teacher trainers and colleges in Zambézia Province. The teacher trainers interviewed believed that the DNFP and other bodies worry about other areas of training and never the English language teacher training program. This raises the question whether English language teacher training program for primary schools is implemented to satisfy the government, the educational policy makers or curriculum designers, and why there appears to be no concern from the institutional managers and the Ministry of Education regarding the many challenges.  

The researchers therefore argue that there is an urgent need to implement a three year English language teacher training program for primary schools in Zambézia colleges delivered by both competent Mozambican language teacher trainers and native or foreign speakers of English trained to teach English as a foreign language. The researchers also argue that through interaction with foreigners, teacher trainees would have the chance to shape some of the pronunciation problems, through the practice of word stress, sentence intonation and active communication with native speakers in the classroom, naturally. Ideally, it would be somehow excellent if native English language teacher trainers who are Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO) were contracted to work for some years at the teacher training colleges. Teacher trainees would benefit much from natural language spoken by natives and thus, enhance their listening skills and communicative competences as natives speak naturally. According to the TESOL White Paper (2012), if ELT is to empower local communities by engaging with globalization and providing them access to global resources, then it must answer questions about the relevance of teaching English, and in particular about what variety of English is taught and for what purpose (p.9). From the document analysis based on the last Mozambican Strategic Plan, it becomes clear that the Mozambican government is aware of some of the challenges that the teacher training colleges and the teacher trainees face in the colleges.


The study explored challenges the English language teacher trainers and teacher trainees faced during the training process. The results revealed that teacher trainees’ lacked the ability to read and write proficiently in English as witnessed through writing tasks. There was also lack of interaction by teacher trainees with native English speakers in order for them to improve their speech skills. Lack of cooperation among teacher training colleges and other institutions like the Universidade Licungo in Quelimane, which trains English language teachers to Bachelor’s degree with Honours in English Language Teaching undermined the need for teacher trainers to dialogue, share their experiences, weaknesses and strengths.

Furthermore, the study established the following challenges: lack of continued professional development program for teacher trainers, which could be delivered by more experienced teacher trainers and education experts from the Provincial Directorate in Zambézia Province and lecturers from Licungo University in Quelimane; lack of constant interaction among teacher trainees owing to the fact that most of them did not live in the hostels, where teacher trainees could share more time together interacting in English language; lack of English language practice outside the classroom; lack of trained host teachers in primary schools to help English language teacher trainees with their lesson planning; preparation and teaching practice process; a consistent English language teacher training program with all subjects delivered in English which could foster much teacher trainees’ English knowledge, abilities and competences; lack of clear strategies of English language policy; and lack of support by the Ministry of Education for modeling teacher trainees competences in the teacher training colleges.

Moreover,  during the study, it  was also established that teacher trainers’ teaching competence in English Language  pose a big challenge in terms of the program delivery. This included lack of teaching confidence, lack of clear feedback that should be provided to teacher trainees during the English language classes and micro-teaching sessions. Additionally, the English language teacher trainees lacked enough supervision by their host teachers, and teacher trainers in primary schools where they did their teaching practicum during the first and second semesters.



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