The Experiential Learning Cycle and Teacher Training
Oct 16, 2012 Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (T 8093 Views
There are many types of TESOL teacher training courses that offer quality training to prepare future teachers to Teach English to Speakers of Other Languages. There are also many approaches used from inductive/deductive to a mixture of both. Using the Experiential Learning Cycle (ELC) as a means of helping participants develop the necessary knowledge, attitude, skills, and awareness to be effective teachers on non-native English speakers can have profound effects.
The ELC, proposed by David Kolb, captures the learning process that we all pass through. His model outlines the steps we take as we create learning. He proposed four stages to the process:
Using this model as the driving force helps participants inform and transform their own understanding of language teaching and learning as it evolves over the duration of the course.
So, in a pronunciation segment of the course, this is what this process really looks like in the course.
• Participants have a real pronunciation experience as language learners.
• Participants discuss the experience and what helped/hindered learning.
• Participants share how it informs them about teaching pronunciation.
• Participants explore strategies and techniques for teaching pronunciation.
• Participants summarize their learnings from the experiences they've had.
• Participants actively plan a lesson with a pronunciation focus.
• Participants teach that lesson in a real language classroom.
• Participants reflect on what helped/hindered learning.
• Participants summarize a key learning the experience has taught them.
• Participants determine how this will guide them on their next experience.
There are many benefits to using this experiential approach in a teacher-training environment. Here are some important ones:
Learner-Centered: By engaging the participants to reflect on an experience either through the lens of the learner or the lens of the teacher, the fundamental principles of language learning and language teaching reveal themselves at a deeper, more personal level.
Empowerment: This cycle encourages participants to think critically about what sets students up for success. Participants experience the strategies and techniques. They explore key questions rather than answers. They examine their own evolving theories on what helps and hinders learning.
Awareness Raising: As Caleb Gattegno once said, ‘only awareness is educable.’ As much as I want to have everyone master teaching pronunciation, the only thing that I can do is give them the supportive opportunities they need to get it. Raising participants' awareness levels has a positive impact.
Recycling: As the language teacher knows, it’s all about opportunities. The same can be said of teacher training. The first time you try a technique, it may not feel good or work well. The ELC cycles through experiencing, reflecting, theorizing, and planning how to be a more effective teacher.
Needs-Based: Learners are different, all coming with different strengths, challenges, and needs. Some seem to give clear instructions naturally while others struggle with this. The Experiential Learning Cycle supports participants individually in using their strengths to develop new ones.
As you can see, there are many benefits for following this process. Participants develop confidence and competence as they consciously approach how to plan and teach a lesson that sets all students up for success.
Through the Experiential Learning Cycle, participants grow in both their understanding and ability to put that understanding into action in planning, teaching, and reflecting on a lesson.