Essay Example on The short history of the ELT Departments

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The short history of the ELT departments in Turkey shows that there have always been a general concern and criticism about the quality of teachers novice or experienced and programs graduating those teachers Many attempts and major efforts have been made to update and upgrade foreign language teaching First teacher training institutions evolved into universities in the 1980s and in those years there were great content differences among the ELT programmes Ülgü and Er 2016 Later with the association of the Turkish Council of Higher Education and World Bank some restructurings were made in education faculties in 1997 to provide a sufficient number of teachers after the compulsory elementary education period increase from 5 to 8 years Deniz and Şahin 2006 Another set of restructurings followed them in 2006 to do the necessary updates and to give priority to practicum and to increase school experience courses Salihoğlu 2012 Uztosun and Troudi 2015 After the 12 year compulsory education a lot of foreign language teacher education departments were opened as a result of the increasing demand Ülgü and Er 2016 However foreign language teaching has still not gone beyond making learners acquire only some vocabulary and grammar in spite of the money time and effort spent on these regulations Grossman and Sands 2008 It was observed that learners could not acquire necessary communication skills emphasized by the Ministry of Education even after long years of instruction from grade 2 to tertiary level which might be the result of limited and mainly reading grammar and vocabulary based teaching and evaluation of the teachers who were taught and evaluated the same way

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The students in Turkey have consistently ranked very low on English language speaking tests such as being the last of the European countries and similar to countries which do not have a Latin alphabet like Sudan and Ethiopia and Turkey performs less than expected in the area of ELT as denoted in 2015 British Council report This problem observed in Turkey is a problem in other countries as well As claimed by Andrews 2003 as cited in Richards 2017 the increasing demand for English worldwide has not been able to be met in terms of appropriate qualifications but only in terms of numbers which made it critical for learners to access to teachers who are pedagogically competent and have functional language skills Young Freeman Hauck Gomez and Papageorgiou 2014 Nevertheless this is not the problem of learners only but also the PSTs who pass an examination based on reading grammar and vocabulary to enter ELT departments rather than communication skills and graduate with a limited ability to use English communicatively Most of the PSTs graduate without obtaining the necessary communication skills let alone teaching them They perceive themselves as least proficient in listening speaking and vocabulary which constitute oral communication skills in English Uztosun 2017 However if today the aim of learning English is to communicate in a world where non native speakers have already outnumbered the native speakers and non native non native interactions take place more than native non native interactions instead of fully competent native or native like speakers non native speakers who can address local and linguistic needs and preferences seem more eligible Bhowmik 2015

Furthermore since PSTs themselves are still students learning how to communicate in the language they are expected to teach in a few years a more compromising foreign language teacher education is needed to equip these non native PSTs with necessary skills to use and teach the target language appropriately in various contexts Teaching practicum plays an especially important role here in prospective teachers development in beliefs about and attitudes towards the profession since it provides a bridge between theoretical knowledge and practice Through this bridge the focus of attention of prospective teachers shifts from teaching methodology and theories to the learners learning processes and achievement in other words from themselves to their students Despite the increasing importance of preparing more and more qualified teachers especially in terms of communication skills a great deal of questions such as what must be done to improve PSTs in terms of their own communication skills and teaching these skills how to prepare PSTs for the very first encounter with the prospective students and how practicum contributes to PSTs perceptions sense of self efficacy and reflectivity in teaching EFL especially the communication skills still remain unanswered To address the questions above a Speaking Club project was organized within the framework of a protocol between a secondary school and an ELT department during which PSTs took part in a pre practicum in their third year within Community Service Practices course Whether a project like this which pushes the prospective teachers to think over how to improve their own and students speaking skills has an impact on PSTs beliefs about being a non native EFL teacher in a country where communication skills rank very low is a research gap the present study aims to fill With this goal in mind this study aimed to discover how ELT junior PSTs such a practicum like experience in their third year affects their perceptions about their communication skills and their thoughts about and attitudes towards their future profession

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