Saturday, June 29

Remedial Instruction For English Language Teaching Workshop

Upon completion of the course, every participant received an extremely rare certificate from the US embassy.
During the 2 week holiday a month ago, I was called up at the last minute to attend one of the best workshops I have ever had the privilege of attending. A group of teachers from Sabah could not obtain flights to Kuching so their slots opened up for Secondary School teachers in Kuching who were available. Many senior teachers had travel plans so, eventually, I got a phone call from JPN Sarawak's English Language Officer about the course. I jumped at the opportunity.

We were trained by Dr Kay Davis, a specialist who flew all the way from the US.
While I was wearing 3 layers in our air-conditioned room, she was sweating. Lol.
This workshop is a partnership between our MOE & the US embassy. This was one of the best workshops I've ever attended because it was tailored exactly to the needs of my students. 90% of which are low proficiency students sitting at the borderline.

We had the privilege of being trained by an unbelievably experienced specialist from the US who had taught in third world countries, like Africa & the Middle East, where comforts & resources are scarce. She had to work in extreme conditions & teach English in a setting where the language is a foreign language to students who have had very little exposure to the language. Sounds very much like my situation except mine would comparatively be more like a walk in the park.
She spoke her mind & she was not afraid to question what she thought was wrong in both our country & hers. I respected her a whole lot for that. She has an unimaginably strong background in education & she has every right to be heard. I wish that we could ask the same questions & not be mistaken as anti-establishment. As a common teacher, we are told to shut up & do as we are told. Imagine the kind of slur we'd get if we questioned any policy.

Some of the activities we took part in.
Throughout the 5 day course, we were exposed to ideas, articles, activities & games which could be used with remedial students & which required very little resources.
I will apply as many of these as I can before the end of the year & share them with you on my blog so that we may all benefit.

I got to rub shoulders with many accomplished teachers & listen to their stories about their past struggles & their latest achievements. I received many practical tips for my classrooms too just by sitting with them during lunch or dinner or going out for coffee. This is one of my favourite things about attending courses/workshops.

We had lots and lots of group work & discussion. Perhaps we should do more of this in our classrooms?
Anyway, I'm really impressed with the direction our ministry is going nowadays.
During this course, we were told that the ministry is currently focused on the remedial students in Form 1 & Form 2. It's about time we moved the focus from enriching our best students to looking at how to uplift remedial students who most probably make up the bulk of Malaysian students. They require a different approach from those with better proficiency.

The course coordinators requested that whatever was learned during the course be implemented on the Form 1 & Form 2. That is a brilliant idea. Start them young.
But, I do think that Form 1 might already be too late. They should really begin at the primary school level. Still, I guess there will be remedial students at every level & they need to be given adequate care.
I do hope that school administrators will start to see that these developing years are really important & start to allocate better teachers into these classes instead of placing all of them in the exam classes.

The participants & the people who made it happen.
I am really thankful to the ELO for personally calling me up to invite me to this workshop. It has really benefited me a lot & I am hoping to implement what I have learned. Hopefully, I will be able to execute well & create plenty of opportunities for authentic learning for my students.

Meanwhile, I'm going to try my best to invite my trainer, Dr Kay, the embassy rep, Rosie & other reps from the US embassy to my jungle school. It'll be unbelievably epic for my students who have never seen Westerners before. It'll also really blow their minds! And, hopefully, push them to attempt greater aspirations.

Pray for my success & stay tuned as I apply what I've learned during the workshop & share them with you on my blog.

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