English Teacher Education in Bangladesh: Usual vision, unusual action -The Asian Age

Admittedly, Teacher Education (TE) is an indispensable part for enriching teachers' dexterity, regardless of the subjects they teach. In addition, TE contributes to build teacher cognition and teacher identity that embed the decisive factors which determine teachers' actions in the classrooms. As such, it becomes conspicuous that TE has direct implications in teachers' classroom practices.

Perceiving the potential outcomes of TE programs, teachers (irrespective of their preservice and in-service natures) in different contexts have undergone different training and education programmes in the spirit of being equipped with the repertoires, such as, creating interactive atmosphere, deploying audiovisual aids, employing diverse activities to engage students and so on, they need to exhibit in the classrooms.

Bangladesh possesses a vibrant EFL (English as a Foreign Language) context that has undertaken both preservice and in-service TE and Professional Development programs as the sole avenue to produce auxiliary forces; these forces not only contribute to national economy but also power the global economy.

TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), ELT (English Language Teaching) constitute preservice TE while government initiated in-service TE programs, Certificate in Education (C-in-Ed) and Bachelor of Education (B.Ed), shape the in-service training programs in the context.

Added to these, the country has witnessed donor-aided training programs for English teachers, namely, English Language Teaching Improvement Project (ELTIP), English for Teaching, Teaching for English (ETTE), Teaching Quality Improvement in Secondary Education Project (TQI-SEP), Secondary Education Quality and Access Enhancement Project (SEQAEP) and English in Action (EIA). Typically, the donors performed in Bangladesh are Department for International Development (DfID), Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), World Bank and Asian Development Bank (ADB).

As regards the outcome, the adequacy in terms of knowledgebase that prevail in preservice TE programs has been reported visible, although study in this area is few in number. Conversely, scholars defined the knowledge imparted in C-in-Ed and B.Ed. programs as inadequate since the contents of these programs exert limited focus on the practical aspects of English teaching. In the same vein, various studies reported the limited outcome drawn by in-service training programs, although sufficient funds have been leveraged to run these programs.

EIA was the latest casualty in the process. For instance, researchers, building on various frameworks on TE program, reveal that EIA (which had incorporated mobile phones as tools for teacher development) was only concerned about teacher training with mobile learning and eluded training about mobile learning and technology integration. Thus, teachers' successful orientation of audiovisual aid in the classroom, which was a major aim of EIA, drastically failed. Reasons for such outcome, as identified, are technological determinism and scientific imperialism.

Technological determinism in such context means the incongruent status of authoritative agencies or stakeholders to incorporate technology in English classes, being tempted by westernized TESOL; without taking the contextual reality into account. Eventually, segregating conventional teaching and orienting technology give birth of scientific imperialism.

Such initiatives have span ELT in Bangladesh into a spot of uncertainty. Illogical it would not be an overstatement to envision technological orientation as "fantasy", using the lenses of contextual reality. On top of that, studies drew a vignette of synchronized hypocrisies that significantly belittle the operation, function and outcome of the in-service training programs in Bangladesh. Furthermore, the discrepancies have been rigorously observed in in-service teacher training programs in Bangladesh.

Considering the aforesaid lackluster, the writer would like to call for employing proper monitoring and guidance on forthcoming training programs. Moreover, preservice TE should be encouraged more in order to not only inform English teachers with few activities but also to equip them with the underpinning theories that precede these activities. In addition, a revision is recommended in relation to our textbook contents and assessment systems since the conflict of these two yields major constraints to succeed the million-dollar projects in Bangladesh.

The writer is a Lecturer and Researcher at BRAC Institute of Languages (BIL)
 in BRAC University