Professional Development for teachers – Do we need it? by Sandra Luna

All professions require ongoing training. However, in the real school world we are not always able to invest in professional development. We teach classes with too many students for too many hours, and we spend far too long marking and preparing material outside school. Sometimes we just lack the energy! Or the money…

In recent years, teacher development has been moving beyond the usual couple of workshops attended throughout the academic year, and it is becoming a  robust system of continuing education. We no longer worry about content knowledge only, though we sure need to brush it up every now and then, and have started to take a better look into things such as quality teaching, diverse learning needs, student learning environments and collaboration. We have, also, realized that computers and other technology are now a part of our daily lives. There are reports to write and tools that make it easier. There is Moodle and the IH Campus platforms which allow us to continue the lesson outside the classroom. The tutorials we can send to our students encourage learner independence. But mostly, professional development allows us to share experiences, to help our colleagues (new teachers and senior teachers) with our ideas.

A school is made of teachers, students and administrative staff. It could not exist without these three elements. And in my opinion, a good teacher is the most important school related factor influencing student achievement. We all want good students, we want them to dream high, to feel they can conquer the world so please remember this quote by Henry Ford “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”


Young Learners vs. Adults by Isabel Fechas

I was recently faced with this question: “How is teaching Young Learners different to teaching Adults?” My first reaction was saying that it is very different, and I actually came up with some differences very easily. Adults are aware that they’re in a classroom to learn a second language whereas Young learners usually go there because someone (usually parents) take them there, even if they’re not really aware of the reasons. Another aspect is at the skills level. Adults are usually fluent in their L1 and already have some previous knowledge of the L2 they want to learn, which helps in terms of the time spent giving instructions, and, the most relevant for me, they can read!
However, there was something that I’ve only noticed this year when I started teaching Adults. They are usually more reticent to letting you know that they are struggling with something or that they simply don’t understand your instructions or what you’re trying to explain. So I came to the conclusion that just as with Young Learners, the teacher should try to establish routines to make Adult students feel confident and secure enough to admit their difficulties. And even though one usually thinks about games for Young Learners, I’ve discovered they work really well with adults, and they tend to relax, eventually helping them with their learning.
It seems to me that Adults and Young Learners have more in common than one might think at first glance.
So, after this small reflexion, I would like to leave you all the challenge of sharing some of your thoughts and ideas about this. We’ll be waiting for them!