Learning to teach in modules

Martyn Rawson

The knowledge that we need more qualified foreign language teachers has given rise to a new concept for a modularised and decentralised training. The steering group responsible for the new concept came across many different types of training during its review in Germany. The aim was to find a flexible form which remains practicable in terms of outlay and content while at the same time being comparable, open and transparent.

Comparability is ensured in that under the programme the various training centres undertake to provide the foundations of an understanding of the human being and of teaching methodology and to enable practical experience. The course aims to offer students modules at various training centres whereby a specific number of obligatory courses has to be successfully completed. Teachers already working as such should obtain additional qualifications under the Mannheim Language Teacher Training Seminar which will give them the opportunity to become acquainted with many different approaches and lecturers. The modules will be included in the curricula of the respective training centres and shown in the final certificate. Course assessments will be documented in the course record book.

The new concept formulates a framework for the way the content is structured and lays down the allotted work for the decentralised training and advanced training programme. It assumes a general training in Waldorf education which can, in principle, be undertaken in parallel, although the specialist training logically must build on various basic ideas of Waldorf education and should therefore be scheduled in such a way that these foundations have already been obtained.

The core idea is the development of a modularised training in which the students must complete the total number of modules in the course of at least three years, including an induction year. The modules can be taken both at the home seminar and other seminars and higher education institutions. In principle this is a continuing training model in which teachers can continue to develop their skills also once their training has finished. That is why some modules such as the English Week or Semaine Française are also classed as training and advanced training events.

The curriculum: the curriculum is based on a concept of foreign language teaching at Waldorf schools comprising the anthroposophical understanding of the nature of the human being. It aims to qualify teachers to give artistically and methodologically well-founded foreign language lessons based on Waldorf education. It therefore consists of elements comprising the anthroposophical understanding of the human being, teaching methodology and artistic elements. The programme is designed both for full-time foreign language teachers as well as, in a reduced form, for class teachers with English or French as subsidiary subjects.

Intensive study weeks: a central element is the obligatory intensive weeks with block study: two separate weeks in the first year and a further week in the second year. The concept of block studies arises from the experience over many years that the mixture of intensive artistic courses in combination with lectures on the nature of the human being and on teaching methodology is optimally placed within such an intensive week. The two separate weeks in the first year, at which attendance is obligatory, offer both an intensive artistic introduction and a well-founded overview of language teaching in Waldorf schools as a whole as related to teaching methodology and an understanding of the human being. The full concept can be called up on the website of the German Association of Waldorf Schools (www.waldorfschule.de).

Elective modules: the further courses in the first year allow the student to focus on a number of areas depending on the study aims. These courses, which represent a binding structure, can be taken either in the form of weekend courses or as study units offered during the week.

Independent study: participants will be given a reading list for the first year, containing a selection of basic texts on Waldorf foreign language teaching, which serves as the basis for preparing and following up the courses on offer. Independent study is assumed here. At the end of the year a written review (in the form of a portfolio, for example) will be prepared.

Postgraduate study: the concept of the second year focuses on independent project work alongside further intensive study weeks and additional courses to be taken. In the second year students can carry out and document own projects. This offers an alternative above all for students with a high proportion of practical work or teachers already teaching in order to minimise the absence from the school. These projects can document both own practical research as part of a practice placement or be a written consolidation of and reflection on the course content. They can also lead to a diploma or Masters thesis.