Distance Language Teacher Education: New challenges for Hong Kong

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [Eindhoven Technical University]On: 15 November 2014, At: 23:45Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH,UK</p><p>Open Learning: The Journal ofOpen, Distance and e-LearningPublication details, including instructions for authorsand subscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/copl20</p><p>Distance Language TeacherEducation: New challenges forHong KongLiying ChengPublished online: 19 Aug 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Liying Cheng (2000) Distance Language Teacher Education: Newchallenges for Hong Kong, Open Learning: The Journal of Open, Distance and e-Learning, 15:1, 5-16</p><p>To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/026805100115434</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of all theinformation (the Content) contained in the publications on our platform.However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensors make norepresentations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy, completeness,or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinions and viewsexpressed in this publication are the opinions and views of the authors, andare not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis. The accuracy of theContent should not be relied upon and should be independently verified withprimary sources of information. Taylor and Francis shall not be liable for anylosses, actions, claims, proceedings, demands, costs, expenses, damages,and other liabilities whatsoever or howsoever caused arising directly orindirectly in connection with, in relation to or arising out of the use of theContent.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes.Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan,sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is</p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/copl20http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/026805100115434</p></li><li><p>expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access and use can be found athttp://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ein</p><p>dhov</p><p>en T</p><p>echn</p><p>ical</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:45</p><p> 15 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p><p>http://www.tandfonline.com/page/terms-and-conditions</p></li><li><p>Open Learning, Vol. 15, No. 1, 2000</p><p>Distance Language Teacher Education:</p><p>new challenges for Hong Kong</p><p>LIYING CHENGUniversity of Alberta, Canada</p><p>ABSTRACT An urgent need for a relatively large number of quali ed Putonghua language</p><p>teachers in Hong Kong has led the Open University of Hong Kong to establish a distance</p><p>education programme for in-service language teachers, most of whom are non-native</p><p>speakers. The programme designed by the university involves distance study coupled with</p><p>regular face-to-face tutorials, and is designed to enable the in-service teachers to apply their</p><p>learned knowledge directly in their daily teaching. The article explains how evaluation of</p><p>the rst presentation of the course in 1996 showed that the course alone could not fully</p><p>address the actual de ciencies in the teachers Putonghua listening and speaking skills</p><p>while, additionally, there was also a need to restructure the teaching methodology compo-</p><p>nent of the course. The basis upon which these judgements were made is explained, and the</p><p>steps taken to strengthen the course to meet these perceived de ciencies, while not adding to</p><p>the students workload, are outlined.</p><p>Language learning, which used to be considered too complex an undertaking for</p><p>distance education, has been making steady progress in recent years, especially in</p><p>the areas of open-access and self-access learning. One advantage of such an endeav-</p><p>our is the possibility for language learners to draw on resources available in the world</p><p>outside the classroom. Distance education permits learners to continue working, and</p><p>apart from the personal bene ts arising from this, there is a signi cant professional</p><p>advantage for the teacher learners compared with face-to-face full-time teacher</p><p>education courses (Howard &amp; McGrath, 1995, p. 5). This study discusses a distance</p><p>education programme for Putonghua [1] teachers within a special language context</p><p>in relation to the language benchmarks set for all teachers in Hong Kong. There is</p><p>an urgent need for quali ed Putonghua teachers in Hong Kong [2]. The Open</p><p>University of Hong Kong s distance education programme stands out because of its</p><p> exibility and scale of training. The article also discusses the design of the course,</p><p>and feedback from its rst presentation as well as the nal examination results. As</p><p>this study shows, the Putonghua language pro ciency of our teacher learners</p><p>remains low mainly due to the limited period that Putonghua has been part of the</p><p>core school curriculum.</p><p>5</p><p>0268-0513/00/010005 12 2000 The Open University</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ein</p><p>dhov</p><p>en T</p><p>echn</p><p>ical</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:45</p><p> 15 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>6 L. Cheng</p><p>Language Learning and Teacher Education at a Distance</p><p>Language teacher education through distance learning offers challenges both for</p><p>language learning as well as for teacher education. McGrath (1995, p. 70), when</p><p>comparing the advantages and disadvantages of teacher education by distance and</p><p>face-to-face learning, asserts that a distance-only continuing education course is</p><p>more likely to be successful in promoting steady long-term change than a pro-</p><p>gramme with comparable content in a face-to-face mode. However, when it comes</p><p>to pre-service teacher education, McGrath argues for a mixed-mode programme as</p><p>the distance-only programmes lack the crucial dimension of classroom practice. I</p><p>would suggest that when it comes to in-service teacher education, such as the</p><p>language course within the current study (our course being mixed-mode with</p><p>regular tutorials), the above disadvantage is minimised, as in-service teachers are</p><p>actually teaching in the classroom at the time of their study. Their training through</p><p>distance learning can become a distinct advantage. On the one hand, they are able</p><p>to apply their knowledge directly into their classroom teaching. On the other, they</p><p>can study at their own pace without interrupting their normal teaching. Such</p><p>advantages in in-service teacher education, together with the time-scale, scale of the</p><p>training, and the ability of the teachers under training within the Hong Kong</p><p>context, provides a great opportunity for our distance Putonghua teacher education</p><p>programme in Hong Kong.</p><p>Another important point to be stressed here is that the stimulus to make languages</p><p>a part of distance education has come from policies driving literacy, language</p><p>education and further education (Lyman-Hager, 1995; Johnson, 1992, 1993/1994).</p><p>This is especially true within the Hong Kong educational context, where two</p><p>language policies provide considerable challenges and opportunities for distance</p><p>language education.</p><p>The Hong Kong Language Context</p><p>The rst such language policy is the Education Commission Report No. 6 (ECR6)</p><p>(Education Commission, 1995), which fully addresses the concerns expressed by the</p><p>government, business and commerce, and educational bodies about declining stan-</p><p>dards of language skills, and the need for high level language skills among the</p><p>workforce in Hong Kong as it moves from a manufacturing to a service industry</p><p>base. The policy aims at achieving the goal for secondary school graduates to be</p><p>pro cient in writing English and Chinese, and able to communicate con dently in</p><p>Cantonese, English and Putonghua (bi-literate and trilingual). Putonghua thus has,</p><p>for the rst time in Hong Kong education history, become part of the core</p><p>curriculum from the 1998 school year starting from Primary 1, Secondary 1 and</p><p>Secondary 4. The subject will be examined in the Hong Kong Certi cate of</p><p>Education Examinations (HKCEE) by the year 2000. The HKCEE is the large-</p><p>scale secondary school leaving examination which plays a very important role for</p><p>students whether they seek employment or go on to tertiary education. Furthermore,</p><p>it was also stressed in the 1997 Policy Address by the Hong Kong Special Adminis-</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ein</p><p>dhov</p><p>en T</p><p>echn</p><p>ical</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:45</p><p> 15 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Distance Language Teacher Education 7</p><p>trative Region (SAR) Chief Executive that `con dence and competence in the use of</p><p>Chinese and English are essential if we are to maintain our competitive edge in the</p><p>world (Hong Kong SAR Government, 1997). This policy highlights the urgent</p><p>need to train teachers in the three language competencies. Putonghua teacher</p><p>education is more pressing as it is a relatively new school subject.</p><p>The second in uential policy followed by the ERC6 is the one that sets language</p><p>benchmarks for all teachers (English, Cantonese and Putonghua) by the year 2000.</p><p>The policy requires all new teachers to meet the benchmarks before they join the</p><p>profession in 2000, and in-service teachers to be retrained if they fail to meet the</p><p>benchmarks. All serving language teachers are required to meet the language</p><p>benchmarks by the year 2005. The setting of language benchmarks for teachers has</p><p>signi cant implications for language education planning, assessment and evaluation.</p><p>Consequently, the Hong Kong teacher education institutions are facing an urgent</p><p>need to provide training for the existing in-service language teachers within the</p><p>limited time-scale and at a relatively fast rate, so that within 5 years of the</p><p>benchmarks being set, all teachers will be able to reach them. They are also being</p><p>exhorted by the government to pay more attention to `language awareness and</p><p>language skills issues (ECR6, C3).</p><p>Besides the pressing need for language teacher education under the two new</p><p>language policies, Putonghua teacher education is under other pressures. Even in</p><p>1991, only 52.7% (among 408 primary schools) offered Putonghua courses.</p><p>Putonghua was taught usually for 1 hour per week (He, 1994). According to a</p><p>survey carried out in 1996, 92% of teachers of Putonghua are non-native speakers,</p><p>and 99.1% of them teach part-time, of whom only 21.5% majored in Putonghua.</p><p>The current situation of Putonghua teachers in Hong Kong is that, rst, the</p><p>government s language policy, by emphasising the importance of the Chinese</p><p>language, puts Putonghua teacher education under a great time stress. Second, the</p><p>lack of trained Putonghua teachers in schools, as well as Putonghua being a</p><p>relatively new school subject, indicate a training need at a relatively large scale.</p><p>Third, the urgent requirements of language benchmarks, and the current situation</p><p>of the language ability of teachers, require a training course taking account of both</p><p>the language abilities and teaching competencies of the teachers under training.</p><p>Teacher education institutions in Hong Kong face the urgent need to produce high</p><p>quality teachers at a reasonably fast rate, who should be both competent in the</p><p>pedagogical skills and in language skills within a short period of time. The Open</p><p>University of Hong Kong s distance in-service Putonghua teacher education course</p><p> ts well in the context and shows its advantage in dealing with the above pressing</p><p>situation, though there are other teacher education institutions offering similar</p><p>courses at the same time, but on a relatively small scale.</p><p>Putonghua Teacher Education at the Open University of Hong Kong</p><p>The distance learning programmes for teachers at the School of Languages and</p><p>Education, Open University of Hong Kong (OUHK), are mixed-mode in-service</p><p>teacher education with regular face-to-face tutorials. All our teacher learners are</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ein</p><p>dhov</p><p>en T</p><p>echn</p><p>ical</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:45</p><p> 15 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>8 L. Cheng</p><p>TABLE I. Putonghua teacher education course components</p><p>Unit Theme</p><p>Unit 1 Hong Kong Putonghua teaching and learning situation</p><p>Unit 2 Modern Chinese grammar</p><p>Unit 3 Phonology</p><p>Unit 4 Listening ability</p><p>Unit 5 Reading aloud training</p><p>Unit 6 Speaking ability</p><p>Unit 7 Theory in teaching and learning</p><p>Unit 8 Pedagogy in teaching and learning</p><p>Unit 9 Practicum in teaching and learning</p><p>Unit 10 Language assessment and evaluation</p><p>teaching at the time of their study. Some of them are allowed a lighter workload, and</p><p>some are not, depending upon the speci c situation at their serving schools. The</p><p>teacher education programmes are designed to maximise the exibility of teachers at</p><p>work, and the application of their learned knowledge directly into their daily</p><p>teaching. Most of them cater for hundreds of teachers in one presentation, com-</p><p>pared with the traditional face-to-face course offered at other teacher education</p><p>institutions, where each course caters for only a limited number of teachers (20 30)</p><p>at a time. The Bachelor of Education (BEd. in Primary Education) programme</p><p>consists of eight classroom teaching options, three of them being language teacher</p><p>education, namely English, Chinese [3], and Putonghua. They are all designed</p><p>locally. English is self-explanatory. The second two subjects are unique in Hong</p><p>Kong. Chinese, referred to as Modern Chinese in Hong Kong, emphasises the</p><p>teaching of reading and writing aspects of the language. Putonghua focuses on</p><p>enhancing listening and speaking skills, in addition to the training in classroom</p><p>teaching methodology and language awareness that is common to both courses. The</p><p>three language courses, English, Chinese and Putonghua, were developed in parallel</p><p>in course components, yet with different focuses on each speci c language context</p><p>in Hong Kong.</p><p>The Putonghua course was developed by taking the above special language</p><p>situation in Hong Kong into consideration. It made use of the distance learning</p><p>mode by employing a task-based approach with a multimedia element. The course</p><p>was offered for the rst time in October 1996. It was designed to comprise</p><p>socio-linguistic and methodological issues, language awareness, curriculum and</p><p>assessment, as well as a language skill training component to address the problem of</p><p>insuf ciently quali ed Putonghua teachers in Hong Kong. The course is a 1-year</p><p>higher level BEd. course with 10 units of study (see Table I). Tutorials were</p><p>scheduled about once each month for the rst presentation, with roughly 200</p><p>teacher learners enrolled.</p><p>Compared with the Chinese teaching option focusing on reading and writing</p><p>mentioned above, the Putonghua course focused on listening and speaking training</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Ein</p><p>dhov</p><p>en T</p><p>echn</p><p>ical</p><p> Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity] </p><p>at 2</p><p>3:45</p><p> 15 </p><p>Nov</p><p>embe</p><p>r 20</p><p>14 </p></li><li><p>Distance Language Teacher Education 9</p><p>through Units 3 6. However, what was unknown to us at the time of the course</p><p>design was the actual Putonghua language ability of the teachers who would take our</p><p>course. It was only after they started the course, and after soliciting feedback from</p><p>them and various other sources, that we realised that language ability remained an</p><p>issue for many teachers under training. Besides, the language situation was far more</p><p>complicated than we expected.</p><p>In late 1997, after the rst presentation, an overall forma...</p></li></ul>

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