Factors Affecting Quality of the Teacher Training Programme for Primary Schools in Zambézia Teacher Training Colleges
Gregório Jorge Gonçalvesα & Amos Moses Chaumσ
The study sought to investigate the factors that affect the quality of the English language teaching and learning process as well as teacher training. The researcher conducted the study in three teacher training colleges in Zambézia province, in Mozambique designated as TTC A, B, and C. The researcher used qualitative research approach for the study based on discussions, and reviews of authors who have discussed factors affecting teacher education with a focus on English language teacher training. Participants were teacher trainees, teacher trainers and teachers of the English language. The researcher generated data through interviews, document analysis and focus group discussion. After examination of the data it revealed that several factors may affect the quality of the English language teaching program. The study identified factors that undermine the quality of the English language teacher training program for primary schools in Zambézia province. The researchers found out that the quality of the English language teacher depends mostly on the quality of the management process, which the study displayed through the professionalism of the teacher trainers, the prevailing teaching and learning materials, and the motivation by teacher trainees and teacher trainers. Through the analysis of data, the study concludes that training English language teachers in a situation where English is delivered and as a foreign language demands the disposition of knowledge, skills, competence, motivation, quality of school infrastructure, professionalism and teacher trainers’ aptitude which can impact positively in the English language teacher trainee who is the future English language teacher.
Keywords: Training programme, management process, teacher education, teacher trainer, teacher trainee, professionalism.
There are always factors that impact training positively or negatively. Heyworth (2013) declares that “there is a need to introduce standards for the quality of teaching methods, staff, providers, and course delivery” (p. 305). The authors contend that,
There are several of descriptions of quality requirements both for teachers in general, and for teachers of languages specifically. Typically, they are based on a competence model, with competence defined generally as a combination of values (or attitudes), knowledge and understanding and skills”, (Heyworth, 2013, p.298).
In line with Heyworth’s (2013) point of view, the researchers feel that a well-qualified English teacher for primary school level in Mozambique, apart from knowledge, skills, attitudes and competences, they should also have the following five aspects: a) high motivation for English language teaching, b) excellent knowledge of the subject matter including the four major language skills, c) strong skills for English language teaching, d) competence for English language teaching and e) professionalism of the English language teacher. In addition, three factors need to be stressed to achieve the quality of the English language teacher trainees: well structured content and syllabus, good and well-equipped school infrastructure and competent teacher trainers.
The National Accreditation and Assessment Council (NAAC) and Commonwealth of Learning (COL) document in India and Canada (2007) observes that “facilities like the library are the actual learning locations, so it is essential that they have adequate volumes of books, journals, other learning materials and facilities for technology aided learning which enable students to acquire information, knowledge and skills” (p. 8). Thus, according to Gonçalves (2019, p. 71) “it is not only necessary that the computer facilities and other learning resources are available in the institution for its academic and administrative purposes but are also accessible to staff and students who are keen on using them.” Based on English language teaching practice supervision of teacher trainees in primary schools, the researcher noted that English language teachers trained at the three colleges have difficulties in putting into practice the English language teaching methods and procedures in class. Consequently, English is considered a difficult subject to learn by many primary schools’ pupils. Another implication is that pupils reach subsequent levels without being able to speak the language or to perform positively in English lessons. Yet, little has been done to understand these difficulties to enhance the quality of the primary school English language teacher training program. Results from the study have the potential to improve classroom practices in Zambezia’s English language teacher training colleges. Furthermore, the study presents practical suggestions for addressing the challenges highlighted in this research project. Finally, the researcher hopes that the study will influence curriculum designers, educational managers, as well as English language trainers to re-think the quality of the English language teacher training program and the main challenges that impact on the quality of trained English language teachers in the three colleges in Zambézia Province. This paper examines the factors affecting quality of the teacher training program for primary schools in Zambézia Teacher Training Colleges.
Koç (2016) contends that “the purpose of an in-service teacher training programme is to enable teachers to develop their knowledge, apply this knowledge in the classroom and achieve the projected behavioural changes” (p. 459). In line with Koç’s view Gonçalves (2019, p. 71) claims that “at the end of their training course, English language teacher trainees should possess, consolidated knowledge of the English language teaching and teaching model pedagogies which may include: the English language grammar, phonology knowledge, adequate mastery of the language skills such as listening, speaking, reading and writing and the teaching methodologies”.
- SKILLS FOR LANGUAGE AND ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING
Broadly speaking, teacher trainees should possess abilities to perform positively in the teaching and learning area. Malderez and Bodóczky (2004) stress that:
when you ask any group of people to brainstorm the qualities of the ‘good teacher’ there will be categories relating to ‘knowledge’ and ‘skills’, but invariably the biggest group of factors can be found under a category one can label ‘person qualities (p. 12).
The researchers’ consideration in developing this section concerning skills is to focus attention on what English language teacher trainees in Zambézia Province should have by the end of the programme; skills which encompass the following: the oral and teaching skills, the abilities to speak the English language fluently and accurately, the ability to interact with different educationists, the ability to interact with foreigners, and other English language professionals, and, above all, the ability to teach English successfully in the primary schools. Hornby (1995) defines skill as “the ability to do something well... in order to acquire a skill, there has to be an initial desire to achieve proficiency” (p. 1109). Skills require practice and this takes time.
Similarly, Gonçalves (2019, p. 72) advocates that for teaching reasons, the teacher trainees need to learn and know how to go about these skills when they teach or deliver lessons in the classroom. The stages of a reading and listening lesson differ significantly from a speaking and writing one. As for reading practice, Kern (2000) calls attention to the fact that:
The goal of reading a foreign language texts is not to achieve a ‘native-like’, fully informed, culturally-appropriate interpretation. What is important for learners to understand, however, is how the interpretations they do come up with are influenced by their beliefs, attitudes, values, and experiences-in other words, by their ‘world’ as constituted and constructed by cultural model (p.314).
A global study of primary English teachers’ qualifications, training and career development conducted by Emery (2012) from University of Essex tried to find out what makes a good primary English language teacher and the largest number of participants responded to good English language skills as most important. Thus, the teacher in class should be creative in organising groups, pairs or when working with the whole class ensuring that everyone participates or at least says something during the lesson or the discussions.
Theoretical framework - Communicative competence
The researcher used the theory of communicative competence to guide this study, especially to analyze, examine, and discuss English language teacher trainees’ aptitudes, which impact on the quality of the training program. Canale and Swain (1980) explain that Hymes, a sociolinguist and ethnographer, 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) define communicative competence as “the underlying systems of knowledge and skill required for communication” (Canale, 1983, p. 05). Canale and Swain (1980) proposed a theoretical framework in which they outline the contents and boundaries of three areas of communicative competence; grammatical, sociolinguistic, and strategic. Sociolinguistic competence was further divided by Canale (1983) into two separate components; sociolinguistic and discourse competence. Thus, it is worth noting that while Hymes’ theory was under the sociolinguistic approach, people generally use Canale and Swain’s framework under the teaching and learning perspective. Furthermore, what is intriguing about their outline of communicative competence is that even 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 (1977, p. 31) observes, “a general theory of the interaction of language and social life must encompass the multiple relations between linguistic means and social meaning.”
Thus, the researchers recognize that English language teachers trained in Zambézia 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 o communicative, namely; linguistic, sociolinguistic, discourse and strategic. Thus, the researchers added four communication skills, namely listening, speaking, reading, and writing to generate feasible findings for the benefit of this study.
The communicative competence theory plays a significant role in ensuring the quality of the English language teacher training process. For many reasons, if by the end of a teacher training programme 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 characterise 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 this those of English, bearing in mind that English must be taught as a foreign language.
The researcher opted for a qualitative approach using a case study design, 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 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.
- 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 class 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 each class for each college took part in the focused group discussions, which meant in the three colleges, 32 teacher trainees took part in the interview. TTC A had two classes, eight teacher trainees were selected from each class, four male teacher trainees, and four female teacher trainees in each class, in total 16 teacher trainees. For the teacher trainers’ interview, the researcher interacted with the eight teacher trainers. The sample was purposively selected for the criteria for selection took into account the area of training and their ability to provide the needed data.
- DATA GENERATION METHODS AND TOOLS
For the generation of data in this study, the researcher used three different methods, namely: in-depths interviews, focus group discussion, observation, and document analysis.
3.1 In-depths interviews
According to Blaxter, Hughes and Tight (2006, p. 172), “the interview method involves questioning or discussing issues with people. It can be a very useful technique for collecting data which would likely not be accessible using techniques such as observation or questionnaires.” Using the interview instrument, the researcher interacted with the English language teacher trainers, teacher trainees, and English language teachers trained in the same colleges within the years 2008 to 2012 with more than four years of experience.
3.2 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.
3.3 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 researcher sat at the back of the class, took notes through the observation guide and filled in the structured observation guide sheet without intervening in the lessons. The non-participant position opted by the researcher 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.
3.4 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: 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.
- DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS
After analyzing the data generated through the interviewees, focus group discussion and information from the documents, the study found out the following factors which affect the quality of the English language teacher training program. These factors according to Gonçalves (2019, p. 71) are: “knowledge of English and English language teaching skills such as competences for English language teaching, professionalism of the English language teacher, as well as the teacher trainees’ motivation towards the teaching profession, quality of school infrastructure, quality of teacher training curriculum and contents, and teacher trainers’ competence and performance”.
V. COMPETENCES FOR ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING
As far as the researchers are concerned, competence will only be realised when one has strong skills that can be utilised in different contexts of work or a lesson. The concept of competence, as explained by Tomlinson (1995, p. 181) is strongly associated with the ability to master complex situations, and goes beyond the levels of knowledge and skills to include an explanation of how knowledge and skills are applied in an effective way. Furthermore, Passos (2009) remarks that,
In a much broader sense, competence is a highly valued quality that accounts for the effective use of knowledge and skills in specific and concrete contexts. The mastery of relevant knowledge and skills alone is no guarantee of successful performance in complex environments (p. 41).
In general, competence is regarded when looking at the two first concepts contained in the conceptual framework, these are knowledge and skills. These two concepts alone cannot bring positive results if teachers are not equipped with positive attitudes accounting for their professionalism in which they should know and understand the learners’ social context, their background and reality.
- PROFESSIONALISM OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER
For Estrela (2002), “the concept of professionalism is in constant development and it should be made on the basis of concrete historical moment and social reality that school knowledge aims to legitimise, in short must be contextualised” (p. 65). Whereas, Wallace (2001, p. 5) considers as professional a person with the following qualities: “scientific knowledge; a period of rigorous study which is formally assessed; a sense of public service; high standards of professional conduct and the ability to perform some specified demanding and socially tasks in a demonstrably competent manner”. It is necessary to highlight the education policy situation that exists in Mozambique. An English language teacher needs to show and demonstrate knowledge of the English language as a subject, and the required skills and competencies for English language teaching in different contexts of English language teaching for students or teacher trainees to feel comfortable and confident in what they are learning. In addition, English language teacher trainers and teachers in general should behave and have positive attitudes towards their daily life and teaching styles. They should show seriousness, accountability, respect, tolerance, and availability towards teacher trainees’ amiability.
- THE TEACHER TRAINEES’ MOTIVATION TOWARDS THE TEACHING PROFESSION
The findings showed that English is regarded as an important language because it facilitates the country’s development because there are many foreigners in Mozambique who do not speak Portuguese. However, to achieve the level of English language teacher training excellence and its quality, much has to be done in terms of school infrastructure, teacher trainers’ on-going development of training programmes, effective implementation of the contents, and teacher trainees’ motivation. Other studies have also considered motivation as a factor that should be stressed for the English language teacher trainees. Harmer (2007, p. 20) elucidates that “the kind of motivation, which comes from the classroom may be influenced by a number of external factors such as the attitude of society, family and peers to the subject in question is often referred to as extrinsic motivation”. A study led by Henriksen (2010) about language attitudes in primary schools in Mozambique agrees that “English language is positively viewed by the Mozambicans, because it is seen as the language of opportunities, mainly for social, academic, professional and economic opportunities” (p. 181).
8.1 Quality Of School Infrastructure
From the researchers’ point of view, the infrastructure is a factor, which affects the teaching and learning process in schools, in training colleges, and universities. Infrastructures do not simply mean the physical buildings, but they include all what we can find inside such buildings. Well equipped schools or colleges can contribute significantly to the quality of the students or trainees. The colleges need to have classrooms which can accommodate a reasonable number of students, obviously not more than 40 students as is the experience for teacher training colleges in Zambézia province.
8.2 Quality of teacher training curriculum
The findings also revealed that one way to create high expectations concerning the quality of the English language teacher trainees is to have a curriculum that help the training process to achieve its goals and objectives. Similarly, just as with the social context of teaching and learning, the context in which education programmes take place are complex and unique, consisting of a variety of factors, such as: the sponsors, the teacher, the availability of the resources, the structure of the programme, the number of training courses along the semester and the incentives for teacher participation (James, 2001, p.10).
It is pertinent for English language teacher trainers to follow the contents provided in the curriculum, and also look at the teacher trainees’ difficulties, so that by the end of the program the teacher trainees not only master the content, which is contained in the curriculum, but also other aspects, which do not appear in the curriculum but are relevant for their knowledge, skills and competences.
- TEACHER TRAINERS’ COMPETENCE AND PERFORMANCE
The study also found that preparing English language teacher trainees as initial training is demanding for the teacher trainers. If the teacher trainees do not understand the content to be delivered or if they have language problems, they will not be able to teach successfully. As emphasised by Malderez and Bodóczky (2004, p. 15) “initially, many student-teachers are not equipped with the ability to draw on all levels of the iceberg in order to construct a personal understanding of teaching”. In fact, there are personality factors that affect the individuals in learning or working actively such as, introversion and inhibition. As a result, the aforementioned scholar reinforces that people with such characteristics tend to be passive and sometimes too passive to avoid committing mistakes or errors. According to Calabrese and Dawes (2008, p. 39),
The term ‘performance’ in the (Performance and Language Integrated Syllabus) we have coined, acquires a twofold meaning: one referring to the trainees’ learning aim to perform the foreign language according to the ‘can do’ statements in a range of communicative situations, the other one referring to their teaching ‘performances’ as future language teachers to young learners (p.39).
English language Teacher trainers must be creative, flexible and dynamic to attend the teacher trainees’ sociolinguistic needs, teaching abilities, language competences and professional attitudes towards English language teaching. Gonçalves (2019, p. 75) maintains that “if English language teacher trainers are not committed to their work, they fail training teachers’ abilities, and the trainees do not gain the experiences in primary school teaching and may not help their future English language teachers.”
In a large sense, the study concludes that low level of English language proficiency of the English language teacher trainees particularly in grammar use, mispronunciation challenges, reading, writing, speaking, and listening deficiencies affected the quality of the training program. Although teacher trainers worked hard in order to minimise the teacher trainees’ elementary and basic challenges of the English language in the classroom. English language teacher trainees at teacher training colleges in Zambézia Province did not become competent English language teachers for primary schools. The fact that the program contains Portuguese subjects created limitations to the teacher trainees to develop the English language communicative and teaching competences. It was also established that internal factors contributed negatively to the quality of the English language teacher training program. Among these factors were lack of teaching and learning materials for English language subjects such as English language dictionaries, grammar books, CD players, course books and story books which made teacher trainees dependent on teacher trainers’ handouts and lessons delivered in class. The implication was that these factors negatively affected the quality of the English language teacher training program as English language teacher trainees did not acquire good communicative and teaching competences in the classroom.
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