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With the coming of new approaches and methodologies in language teaching (e.g. communicative language teaching, student centered education, teacher as reflective practitioner, intercultural learning) groupwork and group interaction has come to occupy a central place. In addition, the educational role of language educators has also highlighted the importance of learning in groups. For example, the educational aims set out in Project 2.1.2 of the ECML's first medium-term programme (Language Educators Facing the Future) such as helping learners become more effective communicators, developing critical thinking skills, and developing attitudes and skills required for conflict resolution can all best be worked on through groupwork activities.
However, in order to use groupwork successfully
teachers need a thorough understanding of group dynamics, as well as a
number of key skills, in addition to personal qualities such as open mindedness,
tolerance, and respect for others. Based on our experiences, an understanding
of group dynamics and the skills required for leading groups can best
be acquired experientially. Teacher education has a key role in equipping
future generations of teachers with the experiential knowledge and the
skills required for group facilitation. If teachers-in-training get good
models for e.g. encouraging contributions, dealing with conflict, or summarising
the key points of a discussion, they are more likely to take on these
roles themselves as future teachers. This is why it is crucial that teacher
educators are given opportunities to develop as group facilitators.
The general aim of the project is to provide training in group facilitation for a number of key professionals working in language teacher education. These key professionals will also play a supporting role in the production of a training kit providing materials for reflection and development for teacher trainers in the area of group facilitation.
By group facilitation we mean working with groups in ways which are empowering
for each group member, and which enable the group to learn together in
Specific objective 1: To provide training in group facilitation to professionals involved in the training of language teachers
Specific objective 2: To put together a training kit to support the professional development of teacher trainers. This will come out in the form of a CD-Rom with an accompanying booklet, and will include checklists, descriptions of key concepts, descriptions of challenging situations (with alternative suggestions), and self-observation instruments. This will be an essential resource for the participants of our central workshop when they plan future workshops in their own contexts, and when they want to reflect on their own development as facilitators. It will also be useful to any trainer looking for an overview of group facilitation and wanting to develop in this area.
A. Workshop participants will: