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Human existence has centered on the development of oral traditions and over the years, spoken language as a tool of communication has gained our importance. However, with the vast amount of information growing around, reading as a skill and the ability to read for different purposes has gained great importance.
Reading is an indispensable skill and as a means of communication, it is as important as speaking. More than simply using any reading material as a tool for constructing knowledge, it is importance to know how it is used. The students have to be trained to learn with the texts- a process via which students interact with the texts as they build their own meaning and knowledge. Reading plays a crucial role in language learning/teaching because of its ability to feed one's existing knowledge in different ways.
Definitions of Reading
Reading comprehension can be defined as an active thinking process through a reader intentionally constructing meaning to form a deeper understanding of concepts and information presented in the text (Neufeld, 2006). To comprehend readers must use information they already possess to filter, interpret, organize and reflect upon the incoming information from the page. Efficient interpretation of the text involves a combination of the word recognition skills, linking of new information to prior knowledge, and application of appropriate strategies such as locating the main idea, making connection, questioning, inferring and predicting.
McCardle et al (2002) suggests that comprehension process draws on many cognitive and linguistic abilities - most notable vocabulary, recalling background knowledge, sentence processing, verbal reasoning, knowledge of print conventions and working memory. Weakness in any of these abilities can impair reading comprehension and can cause a student to disengage from the task of interpreting text.
From the above definitions, it is clear that reading is a tool. It is comprehensible, interpreting and applying textual material.
Models of the Reading Process
Reading is a cognitive process that consists of a reader, a text, and the interaction between the reader and the text. There exist three main models for the description of the second language reading process: the bottom-up model, the top-down model and the interactive model.
The Bottom-up Model
This reading model focuses on the smaller units of a text such as its letters, words, phrases and sentences. Then, a syntactic and semantic processing occurs during which reading reaches the final meaning. In this model, the reader reads all of the words in phrase, or a sentence before being able to understand.
According to Carrell (1989), the bottom-up reading process begins with decoding the smallest linguistic units, especially phonemes, graphemes, and words, and ultimately constructs meaning from the smallest to the largest units. While doing this, the readers apply their background knowledge to the information they find in the texts. However, the disadvantage of this model is that the readers will only be successful in reading if they accurately decode the linguistic units and recognize the relationship between words. However, it is impossible for the readers to store in their memory the meaning of every word in a passage. Moreover, it is difficult to relate one word to the other words. From the above information, it could be said that there are some arguments against the bottom-up model. In the reading process, the readers understand that what they have read is the result of their own constructions, not the result of the transmission of graphic symbols to their understanding, and that without their background knowledge, they cannot comprehend the texts.
The Top-down Model
The Top-down Model was first introduced by Goodman (1967). He proposed the idea of reading as 'psycholinguistic guessing game' in which the reader uses his background (prior) knowledge or textual schemata to connect with a text and to relate these to new or unexpected information found in the text in order to understand it. This model focuses on linguistic guesswork rather than graphic textual information. Moreover, the reader does not need to read every word of a text, but rather, they concentrate on predicting the next group of words. They concern themselves with guessing the meaning of the words or phrases.
Nuttall (1996) stated that readers might start predicting from the title of the reading text, something that allows them to limit the scope of their reading. Additionally, while reading, they may hypothesize the message the writer wants to convey and modify their hypotheses according to what they read in the text. Comprehension begins with higher levels of processing (making hypotheses), and proceeds to the use of lower levels.
The Interactive Model
This model is built on the interaction of the bottom-up and top-down models. Nunan (1990), Rumelhart (1977) and Grabe (1991) argue that efficient and effective reading requires both top-down and bottom-up decoding. L2 readers, for e.g. may use top-down reading to compensate for deficiencies in bottom-up reading. To achieve meaning, they use their schemata to compensate for the lack of bottom-up knowledge (Grabe, 1991).
Stanovich (1980) argued that the interactive model is a process based on information from several sources such as orthographic, lexical, syntactic, semantic knowledge, and schemata. While reading, decoding processes can support one another in a compensatory way. If, when reading word by word, readers with good bottom-up skills do not comprehend the texts, they need to use their prior knowledge (schemata) to assist them. Alternatively, readers who rely on the top-down model use textual clues and guess widely at the meaning, but they need to compensate for deficits such as weaknesses in word recognition and lack of effective bottom-up processing.
Three models of the reading process help explain how readers construct meaning and how they compensate for their comprehension deficits. Successful readers usually alter their model based on the need of a particular text and situation. The interactive model, which is the combination of the bottom-up and top-down processes, leads to the most efficient processing of texts. Knowing that the interactive model can help L2 readers in achieving successful reading, teachers should find reading instructions based on this model to promote L2 readers' abilities.
Reading as a Skill
Reading skills are like building blocks. Te learn to read well, the students need the blocks of knowing the sounds of letters and the blocks of knowing the meanings of words (vocabulary), word parts (grammatical markers), and groups of words (over all meaning of words or semantics). To build these foundations of reading the students need effective reading instruction.
The recent research studies in 'Reading Skills' revealed the following aspects:
Raja Shekhar Geddada (2006) in his dissertation, "The Effect of Strategy Instruction on Teaching ESL Reading" attempts to find out the possibilities of improving reading abilities of the students by using different strategies.
His findings revealed that the use of strategy brought a huge difference in students' behaviour, interaction, and interest and comprehension level
Students found the strategies are more useful and interesting than the other methods that they were exposed to.
T. Lohitha (2010), in her dissertation, English as Medium of Instruction in Success Schools: Focus on Reading Comprehension Problems" determines whether or not existing ways of teaching English in general and teaching reading in particular is actually helpful and practical for promoting reading comprehension of learners.
Her findings reveal that several factors are responsible for the overall poor performance of students in the English Medium Instruction, one of the major factors being the poor reading comprehension.
Some of the factors are learners coming from Telugu medium, lack of exposure to English, untrained and incompetent teachers teaching the students, lack of motivation, insufficient infrastructure, non literate parents and their financial background and above all the toughness of the CBSC Syllabus.
Reading comprehension is a complex and multipurpose activity. It is an act of understanding what one is reading. It is a deliberate and active process that happens before, during and after a person reads a piece of writing. In reading comprehension, a person's linguistic competence, sociolinguistic and existing knowledge of the topic go a long way in enabling him/her to understand the meaning of printed words.
Teaching / Learning Reading
One cannot become an efficient or confident reader as soon as one enters the school. It is out of a child's initial curiosity, about how to write alphabets and words, grows the desire and ability to read. A child has to pass through several stages before becoming an effective reader. At the first stage, a child learns to read the alphabet: A-Z. In the second stage, he/she learns to read alphabetic combinations like h.e, s.h.e., etc. In the third stage the child learns to read the words and word combinations in a sentence and understand their meaning. In the fourth stage, the child's ability to read, at the sentence level extends. In the fifth stage, he/she begins to understand the speeches. It is at this stage, the student uses both linguistic and sociolinguistic knowledge for complete understanding of the test.
Testing Reading Comprehension
The act of reading itself stands at the heart of any learning process.
For testing the reading comprehension, broadly two types of questions are asked: 1. questions from the text and knowledge or competence-based questions.
The text-based questions expect from the students different types of answers.
Choosing proper words from the given answers.
Indicating whether the statements are true/false.
Formulating the questions from the given text.
Knowledge based questions required the subject to identify the parts of the sentences, to complete the unfinished sentences and recall vocabulary and grammatical information from their memory.
The benefits of effective reading are manifold. It is important for teachers to reinforce this skill every day. Reading skill is not confined to the English class, but it is a skill that every human being needs in his/her real life. The learners need to achieve both academic goals and attain self-fulfillment as members of a society where the capacity to read is fundamental standard of social integration.
2.4.4 Writing Skills
Writing is an important medium for language and it is used for many different purposes. It performs many important functions in a person's day to day life in different areas of life like official, academic, media and even social and personal settings.
Learning how to write in a second language is one of the most challenging aspects of second language learning. Perhaps this is not surprising in view of the fact that even for those who speak English as a first language, the ability to write effectively is something that requires extensive and specialized instruction. Within the field of second and foreign language teaching, the teaching writing has come to assume a much more central position than it occupied thirty years ago. Command of good writing skills is increasingly seen as vital for success in the twenty first century. The ability to communicate ideas and information effectively is crucially dependent on good writing skills.
Definition of Writing
Writing is a skill and, like other skills, has to be learnt. Writing is an inaccurate presentation of speech. Widdoson (1979) describes writing as the use of the visual medium to manifest the Graphological and grammatical system of the language.
Peacock (1986) opines, that writing has been described as a struggle to compose ideas in the dead and construct a visible and tangible form out of the models and images that are stored and organized in the mind'. In this regard Raines (1983) says that teaching writing helps to reinforce the grammatical structures, vocabulary, syntax, idioms, etc., which are taught to the learners.
Importance of Writing
According to Byrne (1979) writing involves the encoding of a message of some kind, as it involves the translation of one's thoughts into language. It is observed that except on occasions when one is writing for herself like the shopping lists or the daily diaries, the reader is not present physically. Therefore, when one writes something in any form, it is important to keep the reader in mind considering the fact the reader is not present, and in some cases may not even be known to the writer, so one has to ensure that what he/she writes can be understood without any further help.
With the growing importance of English, the need to learn to write in English for academic and occupational purposes is increasing. In the field of education, writing plays a dominant role for writing projects, assignments, examinations, etc. In the education system, assessing academic abilities is closely linked with proficiency in writing. In fact, writing is the only medium through which learners are assessed in schools, colleges and universities. Written tests are administered, even for job placements. Writing virtually has become the tool for survival today.
Writing also involves the reinforcement of other language skills like reading, grammar, vocabulary as they are employed in the act of writing. Reading for additional information strengthens writing skills. Reading for specific purposes strengthens vocabulary. Focusing on teaching writing is important to facilitate all the needs of the learners inside the classroom as well as in their day-t-day life. Hence, writing is an important linguistic skill.
Writing as a Complex Skill
Writing requires a complex mental effort, since writers have to concentrate both on the meaning and on the production of ideas. It is a complex act because it is a solitary act. Harold Rosen (1972) in Tricia Hedge (1988:5) says, 'The writer is a lonely figure cut off from the stimulus and corrections of listeners. He must be a predictor of reactions and act on his predictions. He writes with one hand tied behind his back, being robbed of gesture. He is robbed too of the tone, of his voice and the aid of clues the environment provides. He is condemned to monologue, there is no one to help out, to fill the sentences, put word in his mouth or make encouraging noises". Hence, it is clear that the writer suffers when he cannot avail all the devices, a speaker ahs access to.
Learning to write is not natural extension of learning to speak a language. Therefore, the two processes, speaking and writing are not identical, though they are productive skills.
Learning Process of Writing
Learning of writing is not just transcribing language into written symbols - it is thinking process. White and Arnolt (1991.3) say, " it is a form of problem solving which involves such processes as generating ideas, discovering a 'voice' with which to write, planning goal setting, monitoring and evaluating what is going to be written as well as what has been written and search for language with which to express exact meanings."
The Writing Process
Writing requires and combines more basic skills them any other subject area. After writing down one's inner speech on paper, it has to be polished properly. Topkins and Hoskisson (1995.211-22) provide five stages of writing process. They are prewriting, drafting, revising, editing and publishing.
Mechanics of Writing
Types of Writing
In one's daily transactions of life he/she makes use of English in the written form for various types of communication. According to the purpose, the writing methods vary. Further, depending upon the time and space, the same matter by the same author may be presented in different forms to the audience. Some of the frequently used types of writing are:
There are certain rules and formal regulations to be observed in many written correspondences. Thus, the conventional rules have to be followed in determining the type of expression employed.
Errors in Writing
Errors are real indicators of the problem encountered by the learners. By identifying the errors committed by the learners, the researchers can easily point out such areas which need to be focused more. It is generally regarded that the students commit errors in all the areas of language. They are
Morphological level, and
Generally students commit errors while creating a piece of writing due to some of the following reasons and also the complexity of the target language rule.
Inappropriate use of the rules,
Simplification of the existing rules,
Mother tongue influence,
It is very important to think critically while writing. Words are the vehicles through which one expresses one's thoughts and measures against one's experiences and that of others. In this way writing helps to think critically, which is essential in this media-oriented society that is constantly offering the society with information. The responses are collected to test the process of writing using the vocabulary and grammatical structures of the language and relevant remedies can be suggested to eliminate the difficulties of writing.
Language plays a vital role in a society because it is not only a mode of communication but also a way of life. In teaching - learning process, the language is a link and medium between the teacher and the learner. So the process of language production and language comprehension demands experimental and scientific tools for the analysis of language to make it more helpful in the comprehension of the text both in the classroom and external environment. The main purpose of language teaching is the mastery of the linguistic skills - listening, speaking, reading and writing - while working through a lesson will help the teachers reprocess language during the lesson. The mastery over the language skills help the learners to express and share their experience, knowledge, ideas and thoughts in an effective manner and to learners a better understanding and harmony for the common benefit of the society.
2.5 Professional Development
The main purpose of the professional development is to empower the teachers, to give them the opportunities and the confidence to act upon their ideas and the way they perform in their teaching. Hargreaves and Fullan (1992.9) state that "the teacher is the one who plays a crucial role to bring out a change in the education of a child and the improvement of the school". Before implementing the curriculum, teachers go through the process of understanding it and refining it, and change it in a way to make the learning process more interesting as well as challenging to the learners. In a way, it determines what teachers have to plan for the classroom teaching and finally what learners need to learn in the classroom. Thus, teachers play a vital role in the classroom. Hence, it is essential that professional development becomes a top priority for the teachers. They constantly build up not only their knowledge of the subject matter, but also enhance their teaching skills.
Professional growth has three important areas:
To be true professionals, teachers have to improve their knowledge of the subject matter and develop their teaching skills. Whatever they learn theoretically they need to know how to implement it in the classroom.
As the teachers get experience of teaching over the years, their professional needs also change. Hence they need to be open to the new ideas and changes that take place constantly in language teaching and avail the opportunities to develop their professional skills.
Teachers need to remember that they are lifelong learners and nee to have a personal interest and commitment to grow professionally.
In-service training (INSET) is defined as a planned event, series of events or extended programme of accredited or non-accredited learning, in order to distinguish it from less formal in-school development work and extended partnerships and inter school networks (Day,1990).
As professionals, teachers need to keep pace with the rapid developments in task to fulfill. As Ã-zen (2001) states, due to rapid advances in technology and science the information content of our world today grows and doubles in comparatively short periods of time. Likewise, the roles that individuals have to fill in their professional and personal lives vary so rapidly, they sometimes become difficult to follow and to keep pace with them. In this respect, INSET is regarded as necessary for teachers and it is powerful in fostering teacher's development. Therefore, it is widely applied.
According to Day (1999) there is evidence that INSET can and does exercise powerful effects on the thinking and practices of teachers, and thus, indirectly upon the quality of students' classroom experiences. Hiep (2001) claims that along with the teacher training, teachers' development fills the gap in training by giving teachers opportunities to reflect on classroom practice, gain insight into teaching experiences and deal with change and divergence.
All things considered, INSET programmes can have important contributions to foster teachers' knowledge and improve their classroom practices. However, the limitations and strengths of these programmes need to be considered. As Day (1999) puts forward, where INSET does not take account of the development phases of teachers, their intellectual and emotional development needs, it is unlikely to enhance their capacity for skilled commitment over the longer period.
Diaz Maggioli (2003.4) observes that "programmes which involve teachers in the planning, organization, management, delivery and evaluation of all actions in which they are expected to participate have more chances of success than those planned using a top-down approach, where administrator's make decisions in lieu of teachers".
2.5.1 Theoretical Context
Effective professional development is considered to be the centre of educational reform (Dilworth & Imig, 1995).
The purpose of professional development programmes is to create effective teachers. From the onset of formal public education through the 1970s, teacher training was generally referred to by the public as "teacher education" or "in-service". By the 1980s, with education under closer scrutiny, it became "staff development". In the 1990s, a push to "professionalize" teaching careers gave birth to the term "professional development". Finally, in 2006, Fullan, Hill and Crevola suggested "professional learning" as a more appropriate term, putting the focus on overall intent - that of lifelong learners who educate others via their professional careers.
Developing effective professional development programmes for educators is critical to student achievement and ultimately of society. Vygotsky's work in education indicated learning is often a social activity (Kozulin, Gindis, Ageyev & Miller, 2003); therefore, teachers must be allowed to work together if they are to become more effective instructors.
Professional development, as defined by the National Professional Development Council of America in 2000, is: "a lifelong collaborative learning process that nourishes the growth of individuals, teams, and the school through a daily job-embedded, learner-centered, focused approach" (DuFour, Eaker, DuFour, 2006.217). In 2009, the National Staff Development Council began to conduct a critical inquiry into the professional development of educators. Research indicated "session activities should be interactive, collaborative, and encourage participants to be knowledgeable constructors rather than mere recipients of information" (O' Hara & Pritchard, 2008.46). Providing teachers with the power to consider and respond to classroom concerns, to examine alternatives and implement a course of action, it is believed, will promote self-efficacy among educators. Self-efficacy involves a person's ability to analyze alternatives and implement an action plan.
One of the most significant problems with professional development as it exists is that the absolute absence of any correlation between what teachers learn and what they do in their classrooms. There is a disconnected feeling between their classroom instructional practices and the professional development meetings they attend (Fullan, et al., 2006). The unfortunate reality seems to be that many professional development activities are not providing teachers with the necessary tools to help them improve teaching techniques and become more effective and better equipped to deal with their students' needs.
Traditional workshops tend not to be effective for a number of reasons:
An unrealistic amount of content is covered in one session;
The passivity of setting and receiving information creates an atmosphere not conducive to learning - even with a dynamic presenter;
There is no occasion for the presenter to facilitate any type of reflection thereby impeding the learners' opportunity to put into practice what can only take place when they return to instruction in their own classrooms (Chappuis, S., et al., 2009).
Because professional development engages teachers as learners, the lessons, Jehelen (2007) believed, should be taught by current or former master teachers in a manner easily replicated by other professionals. Professional development needs to be differentiated to meet the diversified needs of all teachers. Additionally, it was found to be imperative for teachers to work both individually as well as collaboratively on new pedagogical practices (Fullan, et al., 2006). Continuous professional development can provide cumulative insight and valuable instructional tools to teachers.
Educators need to be able to think deeply not only about their subjects, but also about how they facilitate learning and how the students connect to the material. For decades, professional development has focused on curriculum and new trends in education. The need for increased technological powers has been expressed. Additionally, however, Ritchhart (2004) asserted, "We need to design encounters for teachers in which they can develop their thinking abilities, increase their inclination toward thinking, and become more aware of thinking opportunities in the curriculumâ€¦." (216).
2.5.2 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 changing role of teachers in the changing definitions of teacher effectiveness have been frequently studied and analyzed. 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
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 differs. 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.
2.5.3 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 1970s, 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 teacher education and teachers' professional development. However, relatively few of the studies have focused on the effects of in-service teacher education. There is no body of empirically or theoretically generalized knowledge of the impact of INSET programmes because research on INSET rarely builds on or, incorporates other studies (Haplin, 1990). Examples of studies of INSET conducted since the mid 1970s include the work of Henderson (1978) who has undertaken several investigations of INSET programmes, particularly on teacher attitudes, Bell (1981) who has evaluated the responses of course members to post-session evaluation sheets, Smith (1975) who has studied the influence of primary INSET on teachers' work, Dienye (1987) who uses a pre and post tests to access the success of a course designed to improve teachers' subject knowledge, and Evans and Hopkins (1988) who have examined the influence of using educational knowledge gained during INSET on school climate and the teacher's psychological state.
2.5.4 Research on Teacher Development
Features of Effective Programmes
Research on teacher learning and its impact is divided into two waves: the waves of 1960s, which focused on teaching skills, and that of 1919s, focused on subject matter and student learning whereas 1960s focused on general standards of teaching skills, such as assigning classes with timings, offering demonstrations of lessons and testing student's understanding of lectures. During these times and in the early 1970s, studies indicated a concern among educators about the effectiveness of in-service education (Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). The studies however indicated major dissatisfaction with the then current efforts of in-service education, while they also believed in-service was crucial to the improvement of school programmes and practices. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, studies focused on actual practices and resulted in determining effective practices for professional development (Berman & McLaughlin, 1978; Sparks & Loucks-Horsley, 1989). During the 1980s, professional development grew in importance and became the focus of much academic activity, local efforts in school improvement, and legislative attention.
In the 1990s, research looked into student learning, stressing on learners' analytical and problem-solving potentials. It has been indicated that student learning primary depends on teacher learning (Bransford, Brown, and Cocking, 2000). For example, a primary school English language teacher who teaches reading skills needs to know how reading is taught and how students learn reading effectively.
It has been found that the conventional, top-down, exert-driven, and one-off shot approach to teacher development results in little change (Little, 1993; Clarke and Hollingsworth, 2002). This is because here teachers are 'developed' by outside 'experts', rather than participating in decision making for their own development (Lieberman, 2000). The existing bureaucracies tend to create "one-size-fits-all" solutions that often fail to make distinctions among different kinds of school and classroom contexts, or between the needs of novice and experienced teachers. Moreover, the trainings were unrelated to classroom contexts and teaching practice. Teachers have been considered as passive receivers of perspective programmes, given little time or incentive to integrate these new programmes into their classroom practice. Therefore, reform-based teacher development has found to be effective in bringing change that is needed. As it is well stated, in the one-off professional development courses, teachers adopt external features of new programme (e.g. in terms of discourse, how they describe their teaching objectives, or the classroom activities they claim to use in lesson plans or discussions with supervisors or head teachers), while in practice they continue to use the tried and trusted methods with which they have long been familiar.
Research on professional development so far had different modes- case studies of individual schools/districts with promising programmes (Richardson, 2003), and summaries of years of experiences learned by authors (see Darling-Hammond and McLaughlin, 1996. Most of them focused on large scale surveys of teachers about their professional development experiences (Porter, et al, 2000; Supovitz, Mayer & Kahle, 2000). According to these studies, professional development is considered as 'effective' if it leads to desirable changes in practices. Nevertheless, only a few studies rate a professional development programme as 'effective' if it results in improved student achievement (see Kennedy, 1998; Cohen and Hill, 1998 & 2001. In connection with this second point KIllion's (1998) extensive review of studies indicates that the majority of teacher development projects contained no student achievement measure. It is indicated that positive teacher effects have been reported for intensive professional development delivered over extended time periods to volunteers but such studies rarely include student outcome data.
Research in different fields indicated that there are features of a professional development programme that lead to effective teacher training. The reviews of the studies are presented below.
Hayes (2006) indicates the effect of the Sri Lankan Primary English Language Project (PELP), which is component of British-funded project. He reported that children taught by teachers who received the training consistently outperformed children taught by teachers who did not attend the training. It is indicated the PELP provides supports to teachers in the implementation process. It focuses on activities that help young learners learn effectively. PELP is operationalized through a network of 30 regional support centres (RESCs). As part of follow-up to the programmes, "all staff have been required to make available in their centres special programmes for children from local primary schools, involving, for e.g. such activities as songs, games, story-telling, and displays in English" (Hayes, 2006. 146). The features such as the provision of support and follow up, the relevance of the programme to what students learn, and the availability of support centres resulted in the improvement of teachers' teaching behaviour and student learning.
The materials were put into practice after being tried in the RESCs and revised based on peer feedback from teachers who attended the first courses. An interesting thing in PELP is that it takes into account "the micro realities of teachers' working lives" (p.147). The distinctive features of PELP are that it monitored the impact of its activities at the classroom level, which indicated the teachers who attended the programme exhibited more activity based and child centred than those who did not attend the programme. RESCs gather data from classroom observation and assessment of children's competence and confidence using standardized instruments developed with outside consultancy support.
A training programme for primary English teachers in South Korea focused on the raising of teachers' awareness of the effectiveness of elementary English education, improving teachers' communicative English language skills, educating teachers in elementary English curriculum and teaching methodology (i.e. communicative methodology) (Park, 2006). The duration of the programme was 120 hours (which is divided into 84 hours of communicative competency, 34 hours of teaching methodology, and 2 class hours devoted to other unspecified curriculum items). This programme helped teachers improve their knowledge of primary school English language education and its teaching. The programme's success lies in its relevance to what do teachers' really practice (its focus on helping teachers understand the elementary English curriculum and help them develop proper teaching methods of English to young learners, to improve teachers; ability to use English as a medium of instruction, and to help them be able to teach communicative language skills).
Another professional development programme is a programme developed to enable the effective teaching and learning of English in Hong Kong (Sachs and Mahan, 2006). The programme is called English Reading Project (PERP), formed in 1994). The programme adopted five stages to support teachers in their professional development: offering teacher development workshops across and within school; providing necessary resources; assess, report, and discuss pupils' progress; conduct school visits; and produce a newsletter. The project had brought impact on teaching practices and student achievement/performance in English. It is indicated that positive changes in participants' knowledge, beliefs, and instructional practices have been observed.
Jager, Reezigt, and Creemers (2002) give the result of in-service training programme for the eight English language teachers on 'reading comprehension in primary schools'. They were trained to apply the principles of cognitive theory and other five teachers were trained to apply the model of 'direct instruction' in reading skills where teachers both in experimental groups received teaching guides (the adaptation of the curriculum for reading comprehension they already used). The control group of seven teachers used the same curriculum, but did not receive any teaching guide or training. The study showed that the teachers who were in the experimental group successfully changed their behaviour even if they could not succeed in implementing all characteristics of the instructional model aimed at.
Besides the studies reviewed earlier, studies on teacher learning on primary schools in other fields are also available. These studies prove that professional development features determine the impacts of the programmes.
Garet et al (2001) found that professional development which focuses on the content teachers teach, how to teach that content, and aligned with the curriculum and local policies are represented by teachers to have a greater sense of efficacy. The study also shown that teachers who had 80 or more hours of science-related professional development programmes result in change in teachers' practices and student learning. This indicates that professional development is more likely to be viewed by teachers as successful if it is continued longer time and offers substantial contact hours, allowing more opportunities to engage in active learning, enable meaningful collaboration and focus on content, all of which enhance the acquisition of knowledge and skills.
A 3-year longitudinal study conducted by Desimone et al (2002) also indicated that professional development that was focused on specific teaching practices increased teachers' use of those practices in the classroom. Luft, Roehrig, and Patterson ((2003) cited in Wei and colleagues (2009) found the programmes that focused on subject-specific pedagogy were better able to support teachers' learning of curriculum standards than these with general pedagogy as the focus. These studies are against the generic approaches to teacher development.
In a study of teachers who participated in Ohio's State wide Systematic Initiative in science and mathematics, Supovitz, Mayer, and Kahle (2000) found that highly intensive (60hrs), inquiry-based professional development changed teachers' attitudes towards reform, their preparation to use reform-based practices, and their use of inquiry-based teaching practices. The researchers also indicated that these changes persisted several years after teachers concluded their experience.
In sum, despite a paucity of research in the area of language teacher development in schools, the available research findings reveal the same result as the research in other areas. Therefore, it is possible to observe from the review of the studies made so far that teacher development programmes, irrespective of the subject matter (the majority of studies on mathematics and science), have found to have significant impact on teacher practices and student learning. It is realized that educational training programmes should help the teachers to develop their knowledge in the subject matter and help their understanding of students who are listening to them constantly in the particular subject.
Aligning actual training in the given curriculum and teachers' concrete work experiences is also very important (Porter et al, 2000; Garet et al, 1999); Loucks-Horsley et al., 1998; Yeh, 2005; Research Points, 2005; Craig, Kraft, and de Plessis, 1998; Saxe, Gearheart, and Nasir, 2001). From the studies, it is observed that professional development on English language teaching should focus on language subject to the specific curricula teachers are teaching; it should allow teachers to analyze student understanding of English; and should have established system of evaluating the impact of the programme on teacher practices and student learning. Moreover, it should be relevant to the English that is taught to the learners.
This chapter can be summarized by stating that the chapter has very well revealed the purpose of English language teaching, the review of the methodological history of language teaching and English language skills. This chapter also scrutinizes the components of professional development, in-service education, theoretical context, INSET and teacher expertise and research on professional development.
The study of all these components proved to be very much useful for the present study.
Chapter III will describe the methods and procedures of the dissertation study. It will include research design, the methodology employed for the teachers, procedure used for the research, the sampling design, participants, data collection and in-service training programme, its benefits, communicative language approach, role and relevance of communicative language teaching, analysis techniques, and procedure of the pre-test for the learners used by the researcher.