Competition and Collaboration in Initial Teacher Education in TESOL: A Case of a Classic Double Bind

| September 24, 2010
Competition and Collaboration in Initial Teacher Education in TESOL: A Case of a Classic Double Bind

Keywords: CELTA, ELT training, teacher training, double bind, collaboration, assessment, group work, competition

Caroline Brandt
Petroleum Institute, United Arab Emirates

Bio Data
Caroline Brandt is an Assistant Professor at the Petroleum Institute, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, where she teaches academic communication and research skills to female engineering students taking B.Sc. degrees. She has 28 years of experience in the field of adult second language teaching and has held a number of senior positions in higher education institutions in 6 countries, including Hong Kong, the Sultanate of Brunei, the United Arab Emirates and New Zealand. She specializes in professional development and academic communication. Her publications include two books that reflect these areas of interest: Read, research and write: Academic skills for ESL students in higher education, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2009; and Success on your certificate course in English Language Teaching: A guide to becoming a teacher in ELT/TESOL, UK: SAGE Publications Ltd, 2006.

Recent research examined participant learning on internationally-available initial TESOL training courses leading to award of the Cambridge Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA). Qualitative methods, used to collect and analyze interview and questionnaire data from 95 participants in nine countries, led to the identification of critical issues related to participant learning. Several indicated a conflict between assessment and group work in Teaching Practice. Teaching Practice is carried out in groups and performance is assessed according to criteria which include participants ability to work constructively with colleagues. Upon completion of the course, successful participants may pass or pass with distinction ( A or B ). However, these grades are awarded to only 25% of participants, a situation which leads to competitiveness as participants vie for a limited number of distinctions. This competitiveness interfered in particular with the group work required for successful completion of Teaching Practice, resulting in a classic double bind. The implications of this situation are examined, and the need to deemphasize competition and encourage a learning community culture is identified, predicated on the elimination of the award of distinctions on CELTA courses.

See pages: 8-39

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Category: Main Editions, Volume 12 Issue 3