Executive Training Institute: Fluency and English Language Development for Educators
I took part on ETI’s one-week long teacher training in October 2016. The institute has been our partner for a long time, it is one of the highest quality educational institute where you can travel to learn if you are a language learner or a language teacher. So, I also had great expectations towards the course, I was looking forward to seeing the school from “inside”, as a student, and also Malta, for its unique cultural heritage.
I wrote to the course organizers that we have more and more advanced students, and I was looking for ideas to motivate them and improve their English on the first place.
As I see it as a language teacher, both the adult company managers and young people speak a higher and higher-level English. Also, it is a basic requirement within the EU. More and more people work for companies where they have to communicate with colleagues from different nationalities on a daily basis. Besides, they have to negotiate with clients in English, and for this they need a very good general advanced language knowledge, and of course the professional vocabulary of the given field. I also experience that efficiency is a need in language teaching, that is the majority of people need useful, practical, “instant” language knowledge.
At ETI I got into Peter Hotton’s group. He has been a teacher trainer for decades, and he is an examiner, just like me. In our group, there were four students altogether, and Peter really did his best so that the lessons meet everyone’s requirements.
I have been teaching English for about two decades, and I am very grateful that I could meet a completely different point of view in language teaching, and beside the methodological knowledge I got professional feedback from my own knowledge I could brush it up, too.
With my groupmates, we always discussed what was said during the lessons. Also, we talked a lot about the differences and similarities of the educational systems in our countries during the lessons but also in the breaks. We discussed the challenges of language teaching today. I found these discussions really useful.
I keep regular contact with my groupmates and also Peter via email.
Some ideas from the course:
The system of tenses, as it is seen by Peter. It is probably the easiest and most efficient to teach it this way:
Everyone sees time though their own filter, it is always a personal perspective. Grammar books focus on describing the action, but grammar really is about time. So, the use of grammar and grammar rules is always very personal, actually, “there are no rules”. The use of a certain tense reflects a certain perspective of time. Eg.
Simple Present perspective: the time frame is: always
Present Continuous perspective: the time frame is: at the moment etc.
The point is always how the speaker sees time, what time frame they use. As a consequence, you cannot really make a mistake. Based on Peter’s experience, this gives huge freedom to students right from the beginning of their language learning, and this is priceless.
In practice: the first thing to teach is the difference between action verbs and non-action verbs. Then comes the given tense, focusing on only one thing, the time frame, the aspect of time.
My personal opinion 1:
If you like the idea, it is really worth experimenting with it. Even if you do not apply it completely, it will definitely put a new light on grammar and the use of language. The system is very easily understandable, and the success of the students motivates the teacher too. 🙂
My personal opinion 2:
There is a complex field of science behind the idea, so it is really useful to discuss with your colleagues all your experience and related ideas. The discussions can easily turn into very good brainstorming meetings.
Pronunciation, word stress and intonation are all essential parts of the natural use of the language. For advanced students, this could be even more important. So, with advanced learners as well, teachers should do a lot of varied exercises on every lesson: students should read out speeches, make many dialogues, should write down words after hearing them, etc. For individual practice this website could be really useful: www.hojsay.com
I follow the Facebook site of the institute, and use a lot from the ideas, comics, quotations there. I really recommend it: www.facebook.com/etiteachertrainingmalta
Not only the course at ETI, but also the time in Malta will be memorable for me. They say about the country: “one foot in the past, one foot in the future”. It seems true. 🙂
I was absolutely amazed by the people and the cultural and historical diversity.
I really recommend both the teacher training course and the country to everyone.