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Pre Service Teacher Education

Paper Type: Free Essay Subject: Education
Wordcount: 5467 words Published: 24th Apr 2017

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The development of both, Pre-service and In-service teacher education in India is explained, in order to gain a good knowledge of the objectives of the programmes, the developments that have taken place in various teacher education programmes and the current state of affairs in the field of teacher education in India.

Pre-service teacher education

Teacher education programmes have existed in the country for over a century. In the 1850’s, teacher training existed as an undifferentiated course of study meant for school teachers. Later, on the recommendations of the Indian Education Commission (1884), the teacher training programmes were mode more differentiated and for graduates the course was designed to be of shorter duration.

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During the twentieth century, greater differentiation was sought and practised with respect to the stages at which teachers were expected to teach. Alongside this, different training modes were introduced, such as regular campus-cum-practicing school experience, correspondence-cum-contact programmes and the more recent distance learning programmes of teacher education. Despite such diversification, the basic features of these programmes as well as the theoretical premises have not altered significantly. Although newer concerns surface from time to time have been taken cognizance of, for e.g. ‘learner-centeredness’ and ‘the break-with-methods’. These concerns have not influenced in any major way the main stream system of teacher education (Stern, 1983).

The professional preparation of teachers has been recognized to be crucial for the qualitative improvement of education since the 1960s (Kothari Commission, 1964-66). The Commission, in particular notes the need for teacher education to be:

…brought into the mainstream of the academic life of the Universities on the one hand and of school life and educational development on the other.

Recognizing ‘quality’ as the essence of a programme of teacher education, the Commission recommended the interdiction of “integrated courses of general and professional education in Universities… and… a comprehensive programme of internship.”

Subsequently (1983-85), The Chattopadhyaya Committee Report of the National Commission on Teachers envisioned the New Teacher as one who communicates to pupils:

…the importance of and the feeling for national integrity and unity; the need for a scientific attitude; a commitment to excellence in standards of work and action and a concern for society.

The Commission observed that:

…what obtains in the majority of our Teaching Colleges and Training Institutes is woefully inadequate…

If teacher education is to be made relevant to the roles and responsibilities of the New Teacher, the minimum length of training for a Secondary teacher should be five years following the completion of class 12.

Reiterating the need “…to enable general and professional education to be pursued concurrently”, the Commission recommends that:

…to begin with we may have an integrated four year programme which should be developed carefully… it may also be possible for some of the existing colleges of Science and Arts to introduce an Education Department along with their other programmes allowing for a section of their students to opt for teacher education.

The Chattopadhyaya Commission recommends a four-year integrated course for the secondary as well as the elementary teacher. (NCERT, 2005)

The National Policy of Education (NPE 1986-92) recognized that:

…teachers should have the freedom to innovate, to device appropriate methods of communication and activities relevant to the needs of and capabilities of and the concerns of the community.

The policy further states that”

…teacher education is a continuous process, and its pre-service and in-service components are inseparable.

As a first step, the system of teacher education was to be overhauled. The Acharya Ramamurti Committee (1990) in its review of the NPE 1986 observed that an internship model for teacher training should be adopted because “…the internship model is firmly based on the primary value of actual field experience in a realistic situation, on the development of teaching skills by practice over a period of time.”

The Yashpal Committee Report (1993) on Learning without burden noted:

…inadequate programmes of teacher preparation lead to unsatisfactory quality of learning in schools… The content of the programme should be restructured to ensure its relevance to the changing needs of school education. The emphasis in these programmes should be on enabling the trainees to acquire the ability for self-learning and independent thinking. (NCERT, 2005)

In-service Teacher Education

Similar developments have taken place in respect of in-service programmes of teacher education. However, it may be noted that the in-service programmes have drawn their substance from the emerging needs and concerns of education appeared from time to time. As a result these programmes have, at at best, been awareness programmes in respect of specific concerns and not teacher development programmes, as visualized.

As an outcome of the National Policy on Education (1986), orientation of school teachers gained momentum on a mass scale. Efforts have been initiated over the past few years to gradually develop a network of institutions like DIETS, IASEs, CTEs with the mandate of providing in-service education to primary and secondary school teachers respectively. During the last decade the use of satellite interactive television based activities have been provided for teacher up-gradation as part of the SOPT and DPEP projects. The majority of them however continue to perform their legacy functions (NCERT), 2005).

The major indicator of quality of training is its relevance to the needs of teachers. The transactional approach and other concepts like activity based teaching, joyful learning, classroom management for large size classes and multi grade situations, team teaching, co-operative and collaborative learning which require demonstration and participatory training are also planned to included in in-service education programmes. The potential for radical shifts in school practices and programmes via effective in-service education programmes has been acknowledged by most Education Committees and Commissions.

The Report of the National Commission on Teachers (1983-85) highlighted the absence of of clear-cut policies and priorities for in-service education and lack of systematic identification of needs. It recommended ‘planning ahead of time’ and ‘closure scrutiny of methodologies’ adopted for in-service education of teachers. It also recommended that strategies used for in-service education must be ‘imaginative, bold and varied’. It further states that ‘the most effective among them are the services organized through the school complex… put forward by the Kothari Commission ‘…intends to link primary and secondary schools with a view to pulling resources and including the educational processes.’

The commission mooted the idea of ‘Teachers’ Centres that could function as:

…a meeting place for teachers located in a school that has resources that it would like to share with others… it is a forum where workshops practical in nature are organized for teachers of all faculties and at all levels’ it pools in the talents of all teachers of various schools who act as resource personnel for centres’ workshops and it arranges book fairs.’ What teachers need most ‘…is a change in the climate of schools, an atmosphere conducive to educational research and enquiry …(select) teachers could be given study leave and sent to advanced centres of learning for furthering their professional competence… through visiting fellowships.

The landmark National Policy on Education (1986) linked in-service teacher education as a continuum with pre-service education. A Centrally Sponsored Scheme of restructuring and strengthening of teacher education was evolved and implemented. The scheme visualized the establishment of DIETs in each district, up-gradation of 250 Colleges of Education as Colleges of Teacher Education, establishment of 50 institutes of Advanced Studies in Education (IASEs) and strengthening of State Councils of Educational Research and Training (NCERT, 2005).

In all these reports, common ideas expressed are: the need to restructure the teacher education programmes to the changing needs of education, and to make these programmes more as ‘awareness- raising’ programmes. Also, these programmes needed to be demonstrative and participatory in nature, with varied strategies to explore methodologies.

With all these developments in teacher education, it is interesting and important to see the outcome of these changes from the perspectives of teachers, teacher educators and researchers.


In order to organize and interpret the descriptive data, the following three related areas in the literature were reviewed. These are: (a) Theories of language teaching and learning, (b) The methods of language teaching and language skills and (c) In-service teacher education. This chapter puts together the summary of the review findings from these three major areas.

Researchers acknowledge the complexity involved in teaching and in learning to teach effectively (Ballentyne, Bain and Packer, 1999; Calderhead, 1996; Clark and Peterson, 1986). At the primary and secondary levels, the difficult and complicated process of learning to teach has been well studied (Ethell, 1997; Wideen, Mayer-Smith, and Moon, 1998). Emerging from these researches is the understanding of the central role that teacher’s views and theories play in teaching practice (Pajares, 1992; Richardson, 1996; and Trumbull, 1990).

The field of language teaching is subject to rapid changes. This is because the profession responds to new educational paradigms and trends, changes in curriculum, and students’ needs. Educational institutions also face new challenges resulting from changes in language teaching. As a result, teachers need regular opportunities to update their professional knowledge and skills. This update is necessary for teachers to take appropriate decisions in the classroom. Decision taking depends on teacher’s understanding and assumptions about language teaching.

The dominant conception of teacher learning and development as development of skills of performance which is largely unreflective has led to a formal procedure of following instructions from authority. The result is that teachers are growing more alienated for a lack of personal significance in the teaching and learning processes. So, the search for an alternative model of development is motivated by dissatisfaction with the existing one and possibility of an alternative view as holding more potential to address issues of concern to this study. This could be in form of providing opportunities to teachers’ voice their views about teaching/learning English as a second language. It could also be reflecting on their practices, thus finding out their own insights in more concrete terms and, through INSET programmes, rethinking of their teaching practices for better understanding of teaching and learning processes.

In the reconstituted view of teacher change, teachers are seen as playing an active, developmental and constructivist role that is based on both understanding and skills. This alternative view of teachers receives support in the literature where, for instance, teachers have been seen as “authors of reform” (Krishner, 2002.47), as researchers and curriculum developers (Stenhouse, 1975), and as progressing towards “self-authorship” (Baxtor Magolda, 2001, 2002, 2003, 200; and King, 2004). The responsibility this entails in making informed choices as a teacher is a moral and intellectual meaning making process involving the teacher in self-reflection. Beyond acquiring behaviour, it centres more fundamentally on the views of teachers about the nature of knowledge, nature of teaching and learning, and, their role in making explicit their implicit theories of teaching/learning, among other things. In this chapter, the theories of teaching and learning, methods of teaching language skills will be discussed in detail. It will also discuss the INSET programmes offered in India and, look at some studies in these areas in order to arrive at a methodological framework of the present study.

Theories of Teaching

Teachers teach within the context of framework of assumptions that shape their planning and interactive decisions. Theories of teaching are central to how one understands the nature and importance of classroom practices. As Posner (1985) observes, different theories of teaching lead to a different understanding of classroom life.

A didactic view of teaching is based on the belief that teaching is primarily concerned with transmitting knowledge through providing clear explanations, or discussions.

A discovery view of teaching by contrast, is based on the idea that students can develop knowledge themselves through active investigation and discovery, with a minimum of teacher explanation and with a provision of opportunities to learn inductively from observation.

An interactionist view, on the other hand, holds that students come with well-formed ideas, so that there is a necessary interaction between the student’s own ideas and the learning materials.

While general teaching theories such as these have informed approaches to mainstream teaching, such as behaviourist, cognitive-developmental, social-psychological, theories specific to second language teaching and learning have been developed and formed the basis for specific methodologies for language teaching such as the Communicative Approach and Natural Approach. However, teaching is an individual activity. As such, teacher development involves teachers in creating an approach that draws on their experiences and understanding as well as their personal principles about food teaching. These are known as the teacher’s implicit theories of teaching.

“the explanations given by teachers for what they do are typically not derived from what they were taught in teacher education programmes…Rather, the classroom actions of teachers are guided by internal frames of reference which are deeply rooted in personal experiences, especially in school ones, and are based on interpretations of these experiences.”

(Marland, 1995. 131)

Theories of Learning

There are numerous approaches and theories which have a huge impact on learning. Generally, approaches provide information about how people acquire their knowledge of the language and about the conditions which will promote successful language learning. Five major approaches to language teaching/learning will be discussed below.

The Naturalistic Approach

This approach is based on the assumption that language acquisition is innately determined and that one is born with a certain system of language that one can call on later. Numerous linguists and methodologists support this innateness hypothesis. Chomsky, who is the leading proponent, claims that each human being possesses a set of innate properties of language which is responsible for the child’s mastery of a native language in a short span of time (Brown, 2002. 24). According to Chomsky, the mechanism, which he calls ‘language acquisition device (LAD), ‘governs all human languages, and determines what possible form human language may take’ (Dulay, Burt, Krashen, 1982. 6).

Some linguists, in particular Stephen Krashen, distinguish between acquisition and learning. Acquisition is supposed to be a subconscious process which leads to fluency. Learning, on the other hand, is a conscious process which shows itself in terms of learning rules and structures. Furthermore, Krashen claims that there are three internal processors that operate when students learn or acquire a second language: the subconscious ‘filter’ and the ‘organizer’ as well as the conscious ‘monitor’ (Dulay, Burt, Krashen 1982. 11-45). The ‘organizer’ determines the organization of the learner’s language system, the usage of incorrect grammatical constructions as provisional precursors of grammatical structures, the systamatical occurrence of errors in the learner’s utterances as well as a common order in which structures are learnt. The ‘filter’ is responsible for the extent to which the learner’s acquisition is influenced by social circumstances such as motivation and affective factors such as anger or anxiety. The ‘monitor’ is responsible for conscious learning. The learners correct mistakes in their speech according to their age and self-consciousness (Dulay, Burt, Krashen 1982.45).

Cognitive Approach

Cognitive psychologists claim that one of the main factors of second language acquisition is the building up of a knowledge system that can eventually be called on automatically for speaking and understanding. At first, learners have to build up a general knowledge of the language they want to understand and produce. After a lot of practice and experience they will be able to use certain parts of their knowledge very quickly and without realizing that they did so. Gradually, this use becomes ‘unconscious’ and the learners may focus on other parts of the language.

The cognitive theory is relative newcomer to second language acquisition and there have been only a few empirical studies about this approach so far. Although it is known that the processes of automatizing and restructuring are central to the approach, it is still not clear what kinds of structures will be automatized through practice and what will be restructured. Also it cannot predict which first language structures will be transferred and which will not. As far as the phenomenon of ‘restructuring’ is concerned, psychologists state that things that one knows and uses automatically may not necessarily learned through a gradual build-up of automaticity but they may be based on the interaction on knowledge one already has. They may also be based on the acquisition of new language which somehow ‘fits’ into an existing system and may, in fact, ‘restructure’ this system (Lightbown and Spada, 1995. 25). Two important models in this approach are ‘Attention processing model and Implicit and Explicit models.’

The Constructive Approach

In the constructive paradigm, learning emphasizes the process ans the product. Learning is process of constructing meaningful representations, of making sense of one’s experiential world. In this process, students’ errors are seen in a positive light and as means of gaining insight into how they are organizing their experiential world. The notion of doing something ‘right’ or ‘correctly’ is to do something that fits with ‘an order one has established oneself’ (Von Glasersfield, 1987. 15). This perspective is consistent with the constructivist tendency to support multiple truths, representations, perspectives and realities.

Multiplicity is an overriding concept for constructivism. It defines not only the epistemological and theoretical perspective but also the many ways in which the theory itself can be articulated. Researchers and theorists have developed variants of constructivism or have evolved the theory in different directions. Nonetheless, there are many common themes in the literature on constructivism which permit the derivation of principles, instructional models and general characteristics.

Social Interaction Approach

According to Vygotsky, social interaction plays a vital role in the learning process. He emphasizes the role of ‘shared language’ in the development of thought and language which stands for social interaction. According to Vygotsky (1962) children develop higher order cognitive functions such as linguistic skills, through interactions with adults or more knowledgeable peers. Eventually these skills are internalized independently. The most important interactions take place within a child’s Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). It is the teacher’s duty to try to take each child to the next level (X+1). The teacher does this by giving maximum help to the children. Perhaps he/she can give learners just the prompt they need. This prompt provides for the learners a breakthrough he/she needs. Sometimes the teacher can take the whole class through a series of steps, which help them solve the problem. Learning depends on the differences in their areas of zones of proximal development. Children are to be exposed to the social interaction first and it will eventually enable them build their inner resources.

Vygotsky’s contention is that language is the key to all development and words play a central role on the development of thought but in the growth of cognition as a whole. Therefore, child language acquisition is the result of social interaction. Teaching is social responsibility and a cognitive activity.

The Communicative Approach

Proponents of this approach state that the goal of language teaching is communicative competence. Another aim is the development of procedures for the teaching of the four language skills (listening, speaking, reading and writing). Moreover, the four skills build the basis of the independence of language and communication (Richards and Rodgers, 1986. 64-66).

According to Littlewood, one of the most important aspects of Communicative Language Teaching’ is that it plays systematic attention to functional as well as structural aspects of language (Littlewood, 1981.1). Another important aspect is ‘pair and group work’. Learners should work in pairs or groups and try to solve problematic tasks with their available language knowledge.

Generally, communicative language teaching focuses on communicative and contextual factors in language use and it is learner-centred and experience-based.

A central aspect of Communicative Language Teaching is communicative competence. (See also )

Also there is little discussion of learning theory, there are still some elements that, according to Richards and Rodgers (1986), can be defined as communication principles and meaningfulness principles. The first one includes activities that involve real communication which are supposed to promote learning. The second element describes activities in which language is used for carrying out meaningful tasks which are also supposed to promote learning. The last one states that language that is meaningful to the learner supports the learning process. Of great importance is meaningful and authentic language use (Richards and Rodgers, 1986. 72).

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In-service Teacher Education (INSET)

Teachers can continue to be learners and develop their pedagogical understandings using their beliefs, by engaging themselves in ongoing professional development opportunities. One of these opportunities is the In-service teacher education programmes where teachers can learn to reflect on other teachers’ teaching and, think meta cognitively about teaching and learning which is a key factor in being able to resolve problems and dilemmas that arise in their daily teaching practices.

There are fundamental assumptions underlying teacher education (Fullen, 1991):

Teacher education must be thought of as a career long proposition.

Teacher development and the academic development of the school in terms of curriculum, materials, and methods of teaching must go hand in hand. We cannot have one without the other.

The role of teacher education programmes in preparing teachers for the difficult endeavour of teaching a second language (English) in India, and particularly the role of in-service teacher education programmes and their impact of teachers’ classroom teaching would be examined, keeping the above said assumptions in the forefront.

In-service Teacher Education (INSET) in India

The need for ongoing teacher education has been a recurring theme in language teaching circles in recent years and has been given renewed focus as a result of the emergence of teacher-led initiatives such as action research, team teaching and reflective teaching. Opportunities for an in-service education are crucial for long term development of teachers.

The well established tradition of teaching and learning in India has retained its inherent strength even under adverse circumstances. The post-independence period was characterized by major efforts being made to nurture and transform teacher education. The system of teacher education has come under considerable pressure as a result of expansion and growth of school education. Having inherited the foreign model of teacher education at the time of independence from Britain in 1946, major efforts have been made to adapt and upgrade teacher education curriculum to local needs, to make it more context-based. The current system of teacher education is supported by a net work of national state and district level resource institutions working together to increase the quality and effectiveness of teacher education programmes for serving teachers throughout the country.

The changing role of teachers in the changing definitions of teacher effectiveness have been frequently studied and analysed. The current focus on teacher education is to develop professional competencies, and achieve higher levels of commitment and motivation for higher level performance in teaching. Emerging information and communication technologies is an added dimension to the teacher education programmes. As a result of all these developments, teacher education in India is on the verge of major transformation.

Bolam 1986) define teacher education as:

Education and training activities engaged in by teachers… following their initial professional certification, and intended primarily or exclusively to improve their professional knowledge, skills and attitudes in order that they can educate children…more effectively.

In-service training for teachers in India is provided by:

The State Department of Education.

Colleges of Education.

Educational associations.

Voluntary Agencies.

In-service programmes are often conducted via short term instructional courses and workshops. Many teachers take part in these programmes which contain a mix of many-courses and expository lectures.

Each state has a State Council of Education Research and Training (SCERT) and whenever a new curriculum is implemented, massive training programmes are arranged across the state. At the district level, District Institutes of Education and Training (DIETS) undertake education programmes to train the teachers at district level. In the absence of DIETS, the Colleges of Teacher Education (CTEs or IASEs) are entrusted with the responsibilities of training the teachers.

The INSET programmes currently in practice can all be put under five different categories based on the aims of the programmes. The following table familiarizes with some types of INSET programmes currently offered in India.

Types of INSET programmes in India



Organized by educational Institutions such as CIEFL or RIE

Enriching teacher’s subject knowledge and pedagogy

Centrally designed programmes such as KV schools

Teaching approaches such as orienting all teachers towards CLT approaches

Locally determined programmes. For e.g. ALC School courses

Attending to the felt needs of schools

One-off short programmes

Specific aims such as teaching vocabulary, or developing materials

Programmes determined by individual needs

Pursuing higher education or self-development

Table 2:1: Types of INSET programmes in India

(Source: Mathew, R.2005)

These programmes differ mainly in their aims of the programmes and thereby differ in their training methodologies also. The takers of the programme also vary in each of these INSET programmes. As a result, the impact of these courses also differ. For example, many teachers who are willing to attend the three month INSET courses offered by the Regional Institute of South India (RIESI) are serious about updating themselves with the latest developments in the field of ELT and re-equipping themselves to meet the changing demands made by the students, parents and the society.

Another example of an INSET course was the 5-Day intensive training programme for teachers working in rural areas which used to be offered by the RIE (in the past) and the programme was funded by the government of India. This programme package was so crammed that none of the areas had any impact on teachers working rural areas because there used to be no follow-up activities and there was no contact between these teachers and the institute. Also there was no space for any practical work or discussions during the 5-day programmes. The locally determined and designed programmes were found to be useful and they were said to have lasting impact on teachers, because they were designed with more weight given to practical work, to immediate the immediate needs of teachers.

From the above discussion, it is clear that most of these INSET programmes are designed to update teachers about the happenings in the field of teaching.

INSET and Teacher Expertise

On a different note, Judith Lloid Yero comments that:

Isn’t teacher who spends his or her working life in the classroom who has day-in and day-out experience with the complex interactions that take place between and among students, teachers and knowledge-an expert? Doesn’t the teacher who has daily verification of what works and what doesn’t, have some measure of expertise? It’s a time to stop looking to others for your own expertise (Yero, 2002).

A teacher’s self confidence in personal ability to work is essential for successful teaching. A teacher can gain such confidence through various day-to-day teaching experiences. These experiences lead to teacher’s self-perceptions of his/her beliefs and the ability to teach. If a teacher is able to look at his/her changing perceptions and adapt to the changing needs of students and be able to change his/her teaching methods, he/she is an expert teacher. To be an expert teacher, he/she has to constantly reflect on his/her day-to-day experiences; monitor his/her developments as a teacher by learning from these experiences.

Even then, a teacher cannot stop totally looking to others for his/her own experience. Reflecting on one’s own teaching, sharing and caring experiences coupled with periodical in-service education would enhance the expertise of teachers with right direction and scholarship.

This entire information sounds perfect at the theoretical level but there are several questions one can ask about the impact of these INSET programmes on teachers and teaching. Some of these questions are:

Do these programmes have follow up support activities?

How successful are these programmes in bringing qualitative changes in teachers’ assumptions about teaching and learning?

What is the overall effect of these programmes in improving teaching strategies of teachers? And so on.

Until the late 70s, very little work had been done in the area of the effects of in-service teacher education programmes.

“Research into the effectiveness of in-service training is disappointingly scanty” (Henderson, 1978).

Since then, a good amount of work has been done in the area of in-service


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