The launch of any professional award in teacher education is newsworthy. The path to becoming an ELT trainer has never been straightforward.
However, the launch of a qualification certified by the British Council and delivered in the UK by NILE Norwich, is a milestone in the development of the profession of ELT.
The British Council Professional Award for Teacher Educators, to give it its full title, is a twoweek face-to-face programme, consisting of three assessed units: an introduction to teacher development; a unit on making training more effective; and a workshop on design and delivery.
According to the trainers at NILE, who piloted the course in the UK and have already delivered it three times (two international groups, as well as a closed group of Tunisian teachers) would-be trainers should be prepared to work hard.
Senior trainer Maria Heron told the Gazette that, “The award is very intensive with daily assessment tasks.” She added that, “participants work together to design two micro-training sessions and to deliver them to their peers at the end of the course.”
The British Council developed the award and has used the programme in projects in Cuba, Ukraine and on the Indian subcontinent. The Council has partnered with NILE, the top ranking UK teacher training specialist, based on its accreditation
report, to offer the award in the UK.
The programme provides quality standards for both preservice and in-service training, and is open to native and nonnative speaker teachers who meet the entrance criteria.
“The selection procedure is rigorous and fair,” Maria Heron explained, “with two trainers conducting the interviews.”
Trainer training is not altogether new and a number of providers, including NILE, have run such courses in the past. What ELT has lacked, however, is an externally validated programme, particularly for teachers in mainstream education, where the ‘apprenticeship’ route used for trainers delivering the TEFL courses offered by Cambridge and Trinity is simply impractical.
The British Council, working in the UK with NILE, may finally have solved the Catch-22 facing would-be trainers: you can’t be a teacher trainer until you have trained teachers, but you cannot train teachers until you are a teacher trainer.
Reports from the first few cohorts of participants have been encouraging.
“The experience of taking the Professional Award is a major highlight in my continuing development,” wrote Hugo Dart, who teaches in Brazil. “Those two weeks I spent in Norwich made me a more capable professional and revealed new, exciting career opportunities.”
The Professional Award for Teacher Educators will be delivered this summer, along with the growing number of teaching courses available at NILE Norwich.