Journey of Professional Development Access Nepal to South Carolina
Kalpana Paudel* (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Recently, I got a golden opportunity to attend a three week-long Access teachers’ workshop in University of South Carolina, USA. The main aim of the workshop was to help teachers to understand American culture, develop understanding of recent developments in English teaching methodology and experience the American education system. Below, in this write-up, I share my learning from the same workshop.
What did I do?
The workshop began with an orientation program on June 8, 2014 followed by a group interview with the Faculties of University of South Carolina (USC). The main purpose of the orientation program was to provide teachers with the opportunity to know each other better and also to know the ‘Speaking and Listening Teachers’ of USC. Followed by orientation program, we had sessions on American culture, history, and methods of teaching English language classes. Most important of all, we did co-teaching classes on teaching language skills. In the second week of the workshop, we had classes on leadership development, classroom management. Also, we continued with the co-teaching in our regular classes. During the week three, we did class observation and learnt about the diversity of America.
Now, in the following section, I discuss what sessions and activities we did during the training.
Though the sessions were highly practical, we also discussed some theories related to English language teaching. Those sessions were on communicative language teaching, best practices in assessment, common European framework, second language acquisition myths and reality, best practices in teaching pronunciation, listening, speaking, reading and writing, diversity of America and successful classroom strategies. The discussion sessions on ELT theory strengthened my confidence about my teaching practices.
Along with the discussion on theory, we were also kept engaged in practical activities. The sessions like ‘Recipe for the Success’, ‘Sharing Access Success Stories’, ‘Class Observation’, ‘Leadership Development’, ‘Community Engagement and Volunteerism’ werevery practical. All of these sessions gave us hands-on ideas. Similarly,the poster presentation session helped me understand the diverse context of America.
Bringing American history in life
One of the major aims of this workshop was to make Access teachers familiar with American history culture and values. So, there were different field trips to visit varied places with cultural and historical values. Under this program, we visited the State House of South Carolina and other places. I was delighted to have the first-hand experience of knowing about the history of this State House.
The other historic place that I visited was Charlestown. Charlestown is a city where I could see the more churches than houses. One of the unique specialties of this city is carriage tour. Tourists visit the historical place on Carriages. In Charles town, I saw the slave trade market, where slaves would be sold and bought. According to our tour guide,all the houses are built in traditional ways in Charlestown to maintain its historic value. The city council does not allow people to design the exterior part of on his/ her own way. Before any building construction work, people have to gain permission from the council.
Also, I went for the peach festival in Trenton town which is one and half hour far from Columbia city. The history of Peach festival goes back to 1777. South Carolina is very famous for peach. To empower the farmer such festivals are organized. I could see different food items made from peach. I also saw a parade. In the parade, people were throwing chocolates from car for the people who were standing on the road. It was very new experience.
In this section, I would like to write about my learning from the workshop. This workshop was very helpful in developing my skills as a teacher. Also, the sessions on American culture, history and values gave me an in-depth insight about those topics. Next, the workshop acquainted me with the American education system very well. I found that each state has different kinds of education system and policy in the USA.
Also, they have a different department called ‘English for Internationals’. It has its own course syllabus, and system. In the case of language teaching, it has different six levels. Level one is considered as a beginner and level six is considered as the advanced. Teaching English language is divided into three different classes i.e. reading and vocabulary, grammar and writing, and listening and speaking. After the class observation sessions, I learnt about different activities that I can use in my classroom.
Using my learning skills in my context
I believe that the skills, knowledge and ideas that I have gained from the workshop will be very useful in my classroom. I am committed to apply my new teaching skills in my regular classes for their English language development.Upon my return, I have started project work with my students which I made during my workshop. Very soon, I’m going to share those skills with my colleagues from all over the country so that other teachers, who didn’t get chance to attend the training also will be benefitted.
(Ms. Paudel is an instructor of English Access Microscholarhsip Program at Lalitpur Access center since 2013. She has more than 8 years experience of teaching English from kindergarten to undergraduate level. She holds graduate degrees in English Language Teaching (ELT) from Kathmandu University.)