UNIVERSIDAD CATÓLICA DE LA SANTÍSIMA CONCEPCIÓN
FACULTAD DE EDUCACIÓN
PEDAGOGÍA EN EDUCACIÓN MEDIA EN INGLÉS
Course: English Methodology
Professor: Roxana Correa
Student’s name: Gary Torres
Pettis (2002) reflects about the importance of our professional competence as
teachers. For her, this personal process of development is crucial if teachers consider
themselves change agents or bridges to society. She states that teachers, like students, are in a
continuous process of learning. This is extremely positive since it involves the development of
their professional competences for a better quality of teaching. She also introduces the
relevant term communicative competence relying on Tedick and Walker (1994), who defined
this term as the ability to communicate and understand messages across linguistic and cultural
boundaries. Equally important are principles, knowledge and skills, which are essential in order
to be professionally effective at teaching. However, there must be a balance between these
concepts because they are constantly changing. For instance, to be knowledgeable and
principled without the necessary skills or having those skills without the accurate level of
knowledge can be limiting in their effectiveness.
Although many teachers support this idea, some others contradict this by saying that
teachers should limit their knowledge and skills in order to teach what they are expected to
teach. These opposite ideas make Pettis wonder about how competent these teachers are in
order to teach contents in real contexts and also in new and accurate ways. Students usually
need clarifications which imply the teacher having certain skills and linguistic knowledge. In
these cases, feedback from other teacher peers, courses and workshops are beneficial not only
for improvements in their lessons but also a good opportunity to learn and develop.
The importance and implications of research in our own classrooms according to
Taylor (2002) are very useful when teachers want to know how students work in certain
situations during the lessons. For instance, if students learn better in small groups or guided
strictly by the teacher. She states that students tend to adopt roles when performing specific
tasks, specially in group work which does not include the teacher leading the class. She also
notices that some activities get students to talk but others do not. In her case, facts like those
previously explained are the ones which promote the type of research she conducts.
Taylor (2002) mentions the importance of learning from colleagues when conducting
research, which means talking about problems or ideas that the teacher has on mind at the
moment of investigating a classroom, either by mentioning this in meetings devoted to
curriculum and methodology or by talking directly with other teachers. In addition to this, she
suggests reading other studies about what other researchers have found out and how other
people have taken the process of investigating the same kind of problems you are facing in
your research. In this case, Taylor’s background reading suggested that group work for English
lessons actually worked. She collected information from two activities, one teacher-fronted
and one small-group for comparing students’ roles. With some predictions in mind, Taylor
(2002) found out that students who contribute actively in teacher-fronted group usually take
the leader role in group work oriented mainly by the task itself.
Ur (2002) sets general terms such as teacher development, teacher education and
teacher learners in order to clarify the information she provides in her ideas. However, the
main purpose of her studies is to clarify the differences between a professional and an
amateur in educational settings.
On one hand, being a professional implies having the
necessary skills and knowledge about the subject being taught, in order to competitively teach
what the lay population is lacking. On the other hand, being an amateur basically means to do
these sorts of things only for fun. Ur also differentiates the term professional with other
concepts such as technician and academic. These can be differentiated in the way that
technicians usually become more skillful by using a certain skills for performing a specific act,
while professionals need not only acquiring the skills but also take courses of action based on
knowledge. Moreover, academics are more limited since they are considered agents to
improve personal ways of thinking, while professionals go beyond this and are considered
agents who have to do with real world change.
This author provides information about the duty that a professional English teacher
must follow. Which include being part of a community, being committed to teaching, being an
autonomous and helpful trainer of new teachers, being a constant learner and a publisher of
new strategies, ideas and techniques.
Brown (2001) emphasises the idea of continuing studying, he provides a list of goals
that a teacher should accomplish in order to become competent. He also defines peak
performers, which are basically people who have the ability to reach their maximum potential
through a series of steps including setting realistic goals with learners, setting priorities, taking
risks and knowing how to manage effectively the stress provoked by teaching. In the same
way, Brown (2001) defines what a good language teacher is. This concept has a strong relation
with being competent, the use of critical thinking, the love for the English language, cultural
adaptability and professional citizenship. Classroom observation is also mentioned; in a way
that teacher should help observing each other’s lessons to get feedback about their strengths
and weaknesses at the moment of teaching.
Research in the classroom is also an issue Brown (2002) promotes since it is useful for
developing or modifying new approaches and techniques in order to become competent. He
deepens on the critical pedagogy concept which means to be critic at setting activities related
to controversial issues, for instance non-violence, human rights, gender equality, health issues
and many others. Brown (2002) states that English teachers, as the authority in the classroom,
must be considered an agent of change because of their professional commitment of helping
people to communicate with each other.
Hayes (2000) focus goes through the path of innovation programs to teach English
effectively. He mentions Cascade, which is a method recently used in Sri Lanka which to
attempt to produce large-scale changes at the classroom level in teacher performance. It is
called that way because of the effect it provokes when it is put into practice. This innovation
model has a big number of theoretical advantages which make it attractive for people aiming
to change ways of teaching English. It works by training people in extra time by teachers with a
higher level of language knowledge and what is more remarkable, it does not require long
periods out of service since it employs already existing staff as co-trainers. However, Hayes
(2000) recommends to use this model as an experiential method instead of using it as
transmissive one because if the model is not well implemented it can cause disadvantages
such as content variations found as the cascade goes down.
The application of this method in Sri Lanka resulted in the following reflections on the
primary English language project. As expected, the success of the model tends to rely a lot on
the level of engagement of the teachers involved in the project, who needed to straightly
follow the given principles to obtain expected results. Regarding the national curriculum, it
was essential to accomplish and stick to the program which highlighted clearly their trainees’
objectives as English teaching is concerned.
Pettis’ reflections about the professional responsibility that teachers have in order to
be effective at teaching are potentially acceptable from my point of view. Firstly, I totally agree
with the idea that teacher should have a balance between principles, knowledge and skills
since they rely on the other in many ways. Even though this is commonly seen in my country, I
believe teachers can hardly teach grammar if they do not have the necessary grammar
knowledge and they cannot teach grammar without the suitable skills. Knowing English is not
enough knowledge for teaching English since it implies other elements such as pedagogical
skills and teaching strategies. Secondly, I believe it is globally know that the way certain
contents are taught changes as time passes. For instance, teachers who use the same
approach to teach certain contents every year tend to become obsolete. That is why teachers
need to be constantly learning, either updating their knowledge and skills for teaching, or
getting information about new learning styles and new activities in order to promote students’
English communicative competence. In addition to this, teachers need to make the content
meaningful for students and at the same time students need to understand in which context
the content is useful, otherwise learners are going to learn only for the evaluation (studying for
a mark). This fact applies not only for English subjects but for others such as History and Math
Thirdly, students usually have doubts or specific questions that teachers without the
necessary professional competence do not know how to answer. Moreover, there are many
primary teachers nowadays who teach a certain subject without having studied pedagogy. This
fact does not necessary mean that they are bad teachers but if we want to efficiently teach
something it is essential to have not only the knowledge about the subject but also the
pedagogical knowledge that only studying a major can provide.
There is always new material being published that can be useful for us, as future
teachers. Complacency in teachers should not be part of our duty as teachers and most
importantly, it is our responsibility to take the wide variety of opportunities that we have for
increasing our knowledge in order to continuously develop our professional competences.
In my opinion, research in our own classroom is important if we want to make
reflections about the way we are teaching or in the way students are learning in certain given
situations. I believe the study of the roles that students take when performing a task, as done
by Taylor (2002), is meaningful and remarkable since it happens in every classroom, one
student in a group tends to be the leader. On one hand the learner who guides the group
work, which is most of the times the one having more knowledge on the subject. On the other
hand the learner which hardly speaks in the task, which tends to have more insecurities for
participating. Having the opportunity to know which learner is which during the activity is not
only a significant element in the research but also useful information for future lessons.
However, conducting research implies other elements that can benefit our background
knowledge on the topic of the research. I think that colleagues help is essential since they can
collaborate in the classroom studies by providing and sharing opinions, giving feedback, and
exchanging points of view. Nowadays schools in my country have scheduled regular meetings
with the purpose of making comments and giving opinions about the way some contents are
being taught and how students are responding to these. This would be a perfect instance for
discussing the issues related to the research, which is more interactive than simply reading a
book or a journal on the topic of your research. Other teachers can have the missing element
of your studies for the research; they can explain certain concepts that you were unable to
understand or they can simply help you with the research itself, either with collecting or
analyzing information process.
Since this research is mainly about the way students work, I consider this beneficial for
the process of teaching. Taylor obtained information about their students and she is probably
going to apply that information in order to know how to teach and in which ways it becomes
effective. For example, if I know learners work better in groups I will try to promote group
work in my lessons so they feel comfortable and safe enough to participate in the activities.
This fact is prominent since students’ performance in activities depends a lot on the feelings
they have towards the activity and also on the previous knowledge they are supposed to
In my opinion, Ur (2002) has valid ideas about professionalism in the area of teaching
English basically because it includes issues that I have noticed during my life as a student and
also as a pre-service teacher. Her comparison with other terms is remarkable since nowadays
there are a lot of teachers with serious pedagogical and knowledge deficits. Despite this fact I
still consider that there are many teachers which do not fit in the category of professional that
I still consider good teachers, either because of their way of teaching or their good relationship
with students, which is also an important element for being successful. In addition to this,
being an amateur is undoubtedly positive because, during my high school education, I could
see some teachers with a bad attitude towards the subjects they were teaching, which led
students to think that those teachers did not really like what they were doing. This facts were
extremely discouraging, learners usually lost interest in the subject, which resulted in bad
marks at the end of the semester. Normally, the lack of these teachers is what others have.
Thus, I believe that a competent teacher is a person involving a mixture of professional and
amateur features. These ideas straightly agree with Pettis’ ideas of balance in the features of a
Regarding the concepts of technicians and academics being compared to professionals,
I think there are many limitations on technicians and academics that a professional does not
have. Becoming skillful is an important process that every teacher should face; however, it is
not the only one. Teachers should be constantly studying, training and testing themselves for
the updating strategies and techniques of teaching, as Pettis (2002) also mentions. Therefore,
there should not be any limitation for teachers since we are seen as people which encourage
students to make a change in the world.
I totally agree with the idea of Brown (2001) promoting the constant process of
studying and most importantly, this is also highlighted by Ur (2002). If we want to be successful
in our career as English teachers, we must ensure that we are updated in terms of teaching
strategies and techniques. Teaching the same content and using the same type of activities
and tasks over and over again becomes ineffective and obsolete as time passes. That is why I
believe the best option for constantly improving our skills is to be immersed in constant
learning and to set long or short-term goals for accomplishing. Brown (2002) restates the
concepts of being competent and the love for the English language, which implies
professionalism and doing certain things just for the love of it. These issues can be linked to Ur
(2002) ideas about amateur teachers, who teach only because they like to teach without
having any knowledge of it.
Collaborative teaching in terms of helping teacher in their process of development is
an issue which I agree with. As explained before, teachers should be constantly learning and
improving, and in my point of view, this would not be possible without the meaningful opinion
and feedback that only a colleague can provide. If we want to be agents of change, as Brown
(2001) mentioned, we should not be working by ourselves but together with other teachers in
order to equally improve. It does not matter if you are an experienced or a beginner, there is
always certain issues to improve, regarding our lessons, strategy and technique we use for
teaching, and the relation with students.
What I found most interesting from Brown’s ideas was his statement of us being not
only simply teachers of English, but agents for change in a world which is demanding a lot of
big changes. I believe, in my country, the duty of a teacher has been extremely underrated and
this is obviously a drawback since we cannot make people know the big responsibility existing
behind teaching. This fact applies not only to English but also to the other subjects students
face during their education process.
The initiative proposed by Hayes (2000) is, in my opinion, something noteworthy. On
one hand, such project in Sri Lanka shows the type concern that some people have about
English language and what implies to teach it. This is something positive since there are many
countries which need these kinds of initiatives for improving the ways of teaching in order to
reach educational success. Its advantages in terms of cost and use of human resources become
some of its most groundbreaking features if it is applied correctly.
On the other hand, I believe cascade training works only in certain places. In this case,
Sri Lanka, which is a country with limited resources in terms of education. It depends a lot on
the level of engagement of the participants so it does not seem to be reliable and objective. In
addition to this, it seems that short-scale innovations would not be possible by the
implementation of this model. Unfortunately, when using this method with the cascade going
down, the content being taught tends to disappear. This happens since it is affected by certain
elements, for instance the teacher’s point of view which can vary depending on the stages of
the cascade, the development of the ideas, the deviation of the main aim of the learning
process which happens frequently when the principles are not followed carefully, the addition
and reduction of the content by teachers and many others. Consequently, there is not a
positive balance between the advantages and disadvantages. From my point of view, there
were too many conditions to follow on this project and most of them were not clear enough,
which left the benefits and advantages overshadowed by principles to follow strictly.
Brown, H. D. (2001). Teaching by principles: An interactive approach to language pedagogy
(2nd ed.). Pearson Education.
Hayes, D. (2000). Cascade training and teachers' professional development.ELT journal, 54(2),
Pettis, J. (2002). Developing our professional competence: Some reflections.Methodology in
language teaching: An anthology of current practice, 393-396.
Richards, J. C., & Renandya, W. A. (Eds.). (2002). Methodology in language teaching: An
anthology of current practice. Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, E. (2002). Research in your own Classroom. Methodology in language teaching, 397403.
Walker, C. L., & Tedick, D. J. (1994). Creating a culture of reform and reflection: Making
changes in teacher education. Teaching Education, 6(2), 81-95.