Professional knowledge for English Language Teaching (ELT) develops from many complex and interrelated sources: teachers’ experiences in pre- and in-service teacher training programs (Lortie, 1975), their opportunities for reflection on what they do, as well as their own language learning backgrounds, beliefs and experiences (Morine-Dershimer & Kent, 2002). This knowledge develops over time and is related to teachers’ increasing exposure to new ideas (Watzke, 2007), how they accommodate these ideas within their beliefs and practices, and how they apply the new knowledge in their own classrooms and schools (Gatbonton, 2008).
ELTeach builds teachers’ professional knowledge by introducing key elements of the global knowledge-base of English language teaching, identified from international and national professional standards. These elements may be new or they may be familiar to teachers. However, here teachers meet and work with them in English, in terms of their own classrooms and teaching experience. Moving through this cycle of professional learning in English helps to deepen pedagogical reasoning (Shulman 1987) and to connect teachers to the global ELT community (Fraga-Canadas, 2011).
Developing Professional Knowledge in a Global Context
A. Elements of Global Professional Knowledge
Teachers need specific elements of professional knowledge to be effective in the classroom. These elements include knowledge of content, knowledge of students, and knowledge of teaching (Ball, Thames & Phelps, 2008). In ELTeach these theoretical concepts reflect fundamental and current thinking in the field. Core teaching practices and the foundations of professional knowledge are grounded in teacher education standards at the international, regional, and national levels. This ensures that effective teaching is defined from a global perspective.
B. Anchored in Local Practices
Enacting these concepts is a complex undertaking. Pedagogical training can often be highly theoretical and removed from the classroom, and can lead to discouragement and skepticism if teachers find that what they know and do on a daily basis is disconnected from the more generalized professional knowledge-base (Ball, 2000). When theoretical ideas can be anchored in local contexts and practices, however, they have been shown to be more effectively implemented (Ingvarson et al, 2005). ELTeach recognizes that the development of professional knowledge must be closely tied to teachers’ local conditions (Park & Oliver, 2008) and to the way they perceive the needs of learners in their own classrooms (Ng et al, 2010). This process of ‘localizing professional knowledge’ is central to teachers’ ability to select and apply effective teaching methodologies within their own teaching situations. In this way, ELTeach is built on a ‘glo-cal’—global + local—blending of global professional knowledge with local conditions of use (Westbury et al, 2005).
C. Expressed in English
There are benefits for both students and teachers when teachers develop their capacities to use English to participate in a global professional community. By introducing key professional concepts in English and enabling participants to relate this knowledge to their own teaching contexts, ELTeach enhances language skills in combination with professional knowledge. Professional development in ELTeach emphasizes the importance of building on what teachers know, thus connecting them with the wider professional community (Orland-Barak & Yinon, 2007). These links depend fundamentally on English as the vehicle for global professional participation.
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