Skip to main content

Revitalizing EFL Teachers' Professional Development in Europe through Innovative Programs

Final Report Summary - EFLTEACHERS (Revitalizing EFL Teachers' Professional Development in Europe through Innovative Programs)

The EFL Teachers Project has aimed to make significant contributions to the foreign language learning and teaching endeavors of people in Europe, particularly in Turkey. Unlike traditional research which generally looks at language learners’ characteristics and teachers’ instructional practices in the classroom, this project takes EFL teachers as the starting point with the standpoint of: “language teachers themselves are language learners, too.” and aims to:

1. investigate foreign language teachers’ individually-guided professional development activities in Turkey in order to identify any needs for new professional development programs,
2. analyze the current professional development practices in two purposefully-chosen European countries: Italy and Sweden,
3. create new professional development programs (e.g. webinars and workshops), and an interactive website that will include resources for professional development based on these needs, and
4. share the programs with the target population and the general public.

In order to find out the types of self-directed activities and professional development needs of EFL teachers, based on interview data from 28 teachers, Dr. Ozkose-Biyik (the fellow) and Dr. Uslu developed a questionnaire with three sections: 1) 16 questions on demographics, 2) 61 items on professional development, and 3) four open-ended questions: 1) What types of professional development programs should be developed for EFL Teachers? 2) What should be paid attention to in these programs? 3) Can you share the websites, blogs, Facebook groups, forums, etc. that you find helpful in teaching English and your professional development?, and 4) Can you write down any mobile applications that you find helpful in teaching English and your professional development? to utilize for the development of the new programs and resources. When the questionnaire was ready, it was transferred to an online platform called limesurvey. In total, 820 teachers filled out the questionnaire. The results of the study were used to determine the categories in the best activity competition, the topic of the seven webinars which are implemented in the second period of the project, and the content of the informative videos. The resources that the teachers shared in the open-ended section were compiled, and shared on the project website. Findings were shared with the scientific community in one national and seven international conferences.

The innovative professional development programs developed by The EFL Teachers Project include, but are not limited to, workshops on reflective practice, seminars on effective language learning strategies, webinars (on reflective practice, the post-method pedagogy, Padlet, Quizlet, various other mini Web 2.0. tools, QR Codes, understanding generation Z and their needs, incorporating online speaking projects into the EFL classrooms, and using drama in language teaching), informative videos on English Language Portfolio, effective ways of using technology in learning languages autonomously, language learning potential and effective ways of learning a foreign language. A comprehensive website (www.eflteachers.net ) consisting of a considerable amount of resources is a valuable asset the project has contributed to the society.

One of the prominent scientific contributions of the EFL Teachers Project to the field of foreign language teacher education is the reconceptualization of the notion of professional development (PD) for language teachers. Up until now, PD literature has defined the notion as if it only includes the planned, structured, institutionalized activities of teachers such as attending seminars. Moreover, these PD activities were provided mainly to improve teachers’ classroom practices. However, Dr. Ozkose-Biyik, the coordinator of the EFL Teachers Project, claims that when it comes to language teachers’ PD, their self-directed, informal activities to keep their English alive should also be at stake because of the nature of teaching a foreign language unlike other subjects. For this reason, the EFL Teachers Project has increased awareness towards the importance of individual efforts for authentic, prolonged engagement with the target language and creating affordances for language teachers’ own professional development. Therefore, they have to invest in developing their language learning potentials, and expose themselves to environments where the target language is used as much as they expect it from their students. In order to help this approach gain more acceptance by the field, Dr. Ozkose-Biyik and Dr. Uslu have developed a PD activity scale for EFL teachers measuring both self-directed individual, academic PD activities, as well as structured and unstructured reflective practice activities. In order to compare these PD activities of EFL teachers across several countries in Europe, a cross-cultural study is in progress.

Since the beginning of the EFL Teachers project, 28 EFL teachers from various in Turkey have been interviewed (1st period); 31 teachers were contacted for test-retest reliability of the questionnaire (1st period); 820 teachers have been reached to fill out the questionnaire for needs analysis for the innovative programs (1st period). In the second round of the data collection for the scale, a totally different body of 300 EFL teachers have been reached. 88 teachers applied for the best activity competition; 6 were invited to İzmir (Turkey) to present their activities as well as receiving their awards; middle school students and their parents from the project that was awarded with the jury’s special award attended this award ceremony; 16 teachers from three different cities in Turkey took part in the dissertation study, and were exposed to the first round of webinars; 349 teachers registered for the second round of the webinars (with approximately 15% active participation); 49 teachers applied for the online book club (44% joined actively); at least 215 teachers or scholars at the conferences have been informed about the EFL Teachers project; 55 high school students joined the effective language learning workshop which was on the regional and national news, so the visibility of the EFL Teachers Project was promoted. In fact, each of the project activities was announced in social media in many groups as well as by the Turkish Ministry of National Education network. The number of visits for the project website for 2018 has been 1515. The impact of the website full of resources for EFL teachers will get multiplied by each time someone from the target audience reaches or watches them.