In the midst of recent conflict, the Professional Certificate in English Language Teaching (PCELT) has served as a positive link between Gaza and the rest of the world. – Yasmine
My name is Yasmine Shahada. I am a four year student of English language at AL-Azhar University in Gaza. USAID, Amideast and World Learning have come together to offer this course as part of a broader effort to strengthen leadership and teacher development at universities in Gaza. I feel lucky to have been able to take part in this program!
The course was held at AL-Azhar University in Gaza. During four intensive weeks of training we, as participants, got the chance to practice teaching English for speakers of other languages using a variety of new and effective teaching approaches. We learned that the teacher is no longer the center of the class, and he is no longer the only resource for the students. Students actually have to do most of the work since student-talking-time may not be less than 70% of the class. Particularly, I would love to mention the ECRIF framework http://www.ecrif.com/ which was one of the frameworks we used when planning our lessons. I would consider this as one of the greatest additions to my knowledge. In this course we learned the key notes of lesson planning, teaching and reflecting which in my opinion are the first steps on the way to be a good teacher.
One of my greatest memories is the teaching-feedback sessions in which the trainers and my colleagues shared their ideas and notes about my practice-teaching lessons. I always had the chance to speak first about my lesson; how I felt, one thing that had gone well and one thing that hadn’t go so well. After that, the trainers and observers shared their thoughts. I benefited a great deal from these sessions since I learned that even small details will matter in my lesson! For example, I had never paid attention to the space between me and the students. I got a note that I stand very close to the students and that results in them speaking in a low intonation, though I was asking them to raise their voice up! My trainer suggested that I can stand little bit away from them, so innately they would raise their voices. In the next lesson I did it and it worked!
I can say that this course has had a great effect on my personality, my way of teaching and even on my future students. Before this course, I used to be a fast talkative teacher whose main concern is the presentation of the lesson. However after the guidelines, trainers’ notes, and workshops, I am aware of the importance of slowing down, reducing my teacher-talking-time, using think-pair-share, and concentrating on practice and use stages of the lesson. Since awareness is the beginning of improvement, development and change, I can use all that I’ve learnt in my classroom in the future. For instance, I will always plan my lessons in advance, get my students interested in the topic, introduce my lessons within an authentic situation and use different types of activities to meet the different learning styles which would affect my students’ learning in a positive way.
To wrap up, the PCELT course has changed me much more than my three years at university. This course has given the chance to a small group of Palestinians to improve itself. Change always starts with few people, then spreads. I’m hopeful that my mates and I will be able to lead the needed change. Thanks!