Ensuring quality in English Language Teacher Education

Conferences can be intensely taxing, perspiring and tiring affairs. But conferences can be stimulating and engaging too especially when they are organized by organizations like the British Council, IATEFL or the TESOL. Last month, I had the opportunity of attending an international conference which was intellectually stimulating, academically challenging, professionally rewarding and socially refreshing. Yes, I am talking about the Teacher Educator Conference organized by the British Council in collaboration with the English and Foreign Languages University at Hyderabad, India from 27 February to 1 March 2015.
The central theme of the Conference was ‘Ensuring quality in English language teacher education’ and the subthemes were ‘policy and quality initiative’, ‘monitoring and evaluating quality’ and ‘enhancing the quality of curriculum, materials and methods in English language teacher education’.
As I had expected, the conference provided a platform for a highly stimulating academic discussion among academics drawn from different countries of the world and the company of the dedicated scholars, researchers and teachers committed to the cause of ELT inspired the young and the old as well as the experienced and the novice working the field of English language teacher education across the globe. Basing on my personal experience of attending IATEFL conference in UK, I have no hesitation in naming this conference as another edition of the IATEFL. So meticulously organized, so nicely propelled professionally, intellectually and academically! Such a focused and result oriented international conference presupposes a total commitment of the organizers.
The key note address of Rod Bolitho will resonate in the ears of the delegates for years to come. He looked at the quality in English language teacher education from a number of different perspectives: (a) How do you define ‘quality’? (b) What is the profile of a competent English language teacher in the second decade of the 21st century? (c) How to prioritize quality in teacher education in India and the wider region? (d) How do you ensure quality in in-service training (INSETT) and continuing professional development (CPD)?
As the central theme of the Conference was ‘quality’, all the speakers and the presenters dwelt at length on the issues related to quality. The role played by motivation in ensuring quality, peer observation as a means to improve quality, institutional initiatives for quality, research-led approaches to qualifications and assessment, evaluation in teacher education programs, maintaining quality assurance in difficult circumstances….. all these discussions kept the delegates busy during the conference.
Now that the Conference is over, I wonder how many delegates have started working on the issues explored during the conference. Hope the deliberations of the conference bring a paradigm shift in the ELT scenario of the country.
Looking at the ELT scenario in India, I have a mixed feeling. It’s nice that we have been organizing ELT conferences at the international, national and the regional levels years after years. We have been exploring and debating the issues of quality in English language teacher education with the intention of bringing a qualitative change in the ELT scenario of the country. But, is ‘quality’ just a buzz word used by the stakeholders of ELT in India? Hope, it’s not. It is the ‘mantra’ that has to be translated into action. Any post-conference follow-up session?

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