Dumbing Down Teacher Training

November 2012

Do you ever feel it’s a bit odd and even cringeworthy when teacher trainers ask teachers to form groups and act as if they are students?

It’s something I’ve seen a lot but I do wonder about the value of doing it too much. Basing a whole TEFL course around doing role plays with prospective teachers and making them act as learners for the whole time seems not just patronising but boring, tiresome, and somewhat redundant for all concerned.

Of course, language learning is a skill but isn’t learning the craft of teaching mainly about acquiring knowledge and the skill sets really only develop with time and application in the job? Maybe you disagree.

I have always found that teacher training works most efficiently through a main emphasis on direct and epistemological instruction, of course with examples, Q&As, and demonstrations, rather than overtly simulating experiences just because it seems like the right thing to do pedagogically.

Demonstrating specific techniques for the classroom is absolutely needed. But for me, when you do find yourself spending most of the time pretending to be a student, clutching a handout and plodding through exercises, then the one real benefit is that you really do realise what a waste of time focus-on-form and other PPP exercises can be for real students.