Posted by: Crystal Bock Thiessen, English Language Fellow
As a part of the U.S. Embassy Kyiv’s annual novice teacher training, I was invited to work with these novice participants in current English as a Foreign Language (EFL) methodologies and best practices. We explored topics in lesson planning, error correction, and using technology and social media in the EFL classroom as well. Everything was done with a focus on the communicative approach to teaching and on learner-centered teaching (a fairly uncommon concept in this part of the world). In preparation for this endeavor, the words I heard over and over again were simply, “they’re hungry.” No doubt that feeling was thick in the air throughout the training.
These are exciting times to be a young English language teacher and learner–scary, yet exciting. Once again in our great educational evolution we are on the brink of a transformation in not only how we think about language education, but in how we go about it in our classrooms. This is especially true in Ukraine, where the stifling idea of English as merely a puddle of complicated grammar rules and translation purposes has given way to a generation of Internet-savvy learners quite ready to actually use the language to communicate with the world they so willingly connect to and absorb. There’s restlessness towards the way things have always been done—towards the English learning of the past. What these young teachers are just becoming aware of is that they are the first bullets in what will ultimately be the next revolution in English-language education. They are the ones who will start the chain of change, and change, as we all know, is incredibly difficult.
Like I said, scary and exciting.
By the end of the four days with these novice teachers, the hunger for useful English teaching skills was joined by a sense of empowerment in the knowledge that, as engrained as things seem here in Ukraine in terms of English education, the revolution of it is beginning now with this generation of new teachers. Having such programs and workshops sponsored by the Regional English Language Office shows these teachers that we are committed to helping them meet their language-teaching challenges head on, and that we too are hungry for these new practices and methodologies to become the norm, not the exception, in English language education here in Ukraine.