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Trainer training - East Asia Regional School
 

Jomtien

19-29 March 2001

Nguyen Thi Minh Huong, Quoc Hoc Secondary school, Thua Thien Hue

When I am writing this report, the smiling face of A.S. Hornby becomes vivid in my mind. He is sitting there with the face of a Saint, looking at me and giving me continuous strength not only during my time in England but also now when I am back home. Before saying something about the Hornby Jomtien trainer training event which took place from 19 to 29 March 2001, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to the man whose face looks like a Saint and whose doings belong to a Saint. I remembered commenting to Roy Cross on Hornby's photograph that Hornby looks like a Saint and he confirmed "Yes, he is a Saint". His work has intellectually brought benefits to so many people around the world, especially to those working in the field of teaching and learning English. And it is his work and generosity that helped bring about the trainer training event in Thailand.

It's quite an invaluable chance for me to have attended the trainer training event in Thailand, Jomtien from 19 to 29 March, 2001. It was a chance for many teachers in Asia who want to move from the teacher's continuum to that of a trainer to meet, share and learn about designing input and conducting a wide range of training sessions. In this report I will write about what I have learnt on the level of a novice teacher trainer. I don't mean to enhance any individuals here but I will use trainers' names to identify what I have gained from each session.

Alan Maley:
It can be said that we were all excited to start the course when we were given the timetable with the name Alan Maley. We had the chance to work with this famous trainer on "What makes a good teacher?", "What makes a good trainer?" and "Presentation skills". We were consciously observing the trainer on the level of a novice teacher trainer and learnt quite a lot from his style and the way he conducted training sessions. I was as happy as a thirsty person meeting fresh water on the way when I saw how the experiential learning cycle, the training methodology in teacher training, the key to open all the doors to teacher training sessions I have learnt from a Master Course on Teacher Training in England, came through in his training sessions. Besides, the awareness is raised between a good teacher and a good trainer, which helped us "shift" from a teacher to a trainer. In addition, from his sessions, I also became conscious of the importance and influence of the teacher's/ trainer's voice and I think I will pay attention to that as a teacher as well as a trainer.

Stefen Colibaba:
It was also an occasion for us to work with Stefen Colibaba, a trainer from Rumania. One thing I was most impressed was the way the trainer coped with the group. He is so sensitive to the group that he changed the right gear to help himself mingled among the group well although this was the first time he had been in Asia and working with Asian teachers with different attitudes and learning styles.

We had this time to work with Stefen on "Teacher Training Principles in Action", " Learning a New Language", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Reading", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Group work", "Communicative and reflective teaching: implications for training", "Lesson Observation Instruments", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Error Correction", "Learner Styles and Group Dynamics". Again, we can't separate Stefen from the experiential learning cycle, which he set from the beginning of the course and everything he did he tried to make us aware of how he worked on that cycle. We have got much input from his training sessions, which I believe is inestimable for a novice teacher trainer like me. The way Stefen led in at the beginning of each session was also fascinating. I took photographs of the activities so that I can show them to my colleagues who may be concerned. Everything he did I tried to give rationale and I found the activities extremely interesting. I also like the way he raised awareness of us being teacher trainer.

Sheila Taylor:
This was also an opportunity to work with one of the native trainers from the British Council in Bangkok, Thailand, Sheila Taylor. We enjoyed seeing how she conduct training sessions on "Designing Input for a Training Session on Speaking", " Designing Input for a Training Session on Language Analysis", "Networking for Teachers", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Writing", "Assessing and Adapting Materials" and "Evaluating Training Courses". Adequate input was supplied to us in these sessions and we were all happy with something to take away.

One thing I find worthwhile from Sheila is her style. I once asked her if she had ever had a problem with resisting trainees. She told me she had never had such problems and she thought that would never happen to her. I understand and agree with her. I am fascinated by her approach to trainees and that is the most precious lesson I have learnt from her.

I was also lucky to be her "child" in the peer training family. I often started the feedback sessions by calling her "Mummy" and that made the group laugh cheerfully. I enjoyed observing the way she gave feedback to peer training: asking in such a way that you help the teacher to speak. The teacher indentifies the problems, not you. You help the teacher recognise the problems and they speak them out. What we are here for? Not to judge if the teacher is right or wrong. We are here to help the teacher. I have learnt this when I was sent to Hastings International House, England for a detached programme on "Six Categories Analysis" with Adrian Underhill and working with her really gave me a chance to practise the skills of giving feedback in real situations.

Suchada Nimmannit:
It was a good occasion for us, Asian group to go to Thailand and have the opportunity to meet and work with Suchada Nimmannit, the President of Thai Tesol. If Alan Maley raises awareness of the importance and influence of the teacher's/ trainer's voice, it is Suchada that demonstrates it. We enjoyed her magic voice and her relaxing and confident manner in the training sessions. It is really fun to have her company and learn from her the ability of adaptation, quick witness and sensitivity.

We worked with her on such sessions as " Designing Input for a Training Session on Listening", " Practice without Pain", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Vocabulary", " Learning a New Language", " Giving feedback", "Designing Input for a Training Session on Lesson Planning", "Memory and Vocabulary Development", and "Planning a Training Course". There are a lot of hands-on activities to take away.

Roy Cross:
It does not seem fair to put Roy Cross at the end of the trainer list because he is the man who stands behind everything in the seminar. However, because I am talking about trainers of the course and Roy Cross was here as a guest speaker.

As participants from different countries we were all happy to share our cultural as well as professional issues. We felt belonging to each other from some indefinite days and this is a good chance for us to keep in touch and share our interests and problems. And it is Roy Cross that helps establish a network for us. We enjoyed his session on networking and found it useful for us all.

What impressed me most with Roy's presence at the course was his approach to us trainees. We felt cared about and everyone seemed happy to be together. We consider ourselves to be in a family and Roy played a considerable part in creating and retaining the atmosphere. By the way I would also like to express my good impression about Sonthida Keyuravong, who stood behind to make everything work. She is a marvelous contributor to creating the good atmosphere as well as the "moving on" of the course. I once told her that I was amazed to meet so many kind-hearted and devoted people in the course. She is on the top of these amazing people.

Conclusion

The trainer training event is of great value to me when I am prepared myself to step into the trainer's continuum, a new continuum in which I am not sure if I will fall, survive or become confident to move on. Thanks to the course I now find myself motivated and confident enough to step into the training field. What I have learnt from the Master Course on Teacher Training has been put into practice in a trying and encouraging atmosphere and I find this a good start. I believe it takes a long time and a lot of effort to become a good trainer and if someday I can contribute something to the training of the country, it is thanks partly to this event. And once again, I would like on this occasion thank the British Council in Vietnam, who have given me invaluable opportunities to study in England and attend this trainer training event. I look forward to opportunities to make some contributions to the development of ELT in Hue city as well as in Vietnam.


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