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Cambridge English, together with the Tech Mahindra Foundation and Cambridge University Press, are working with the Corporation of Chennai on a professional development programme for the city’s English language teachers.
The professional development programme is funded by the Tech Mahindra Foundation, established by the multinational conglomerate Mahindra Group in order to support its CSR (corporate social responsibility) initiatives. The aim is to increase the linguistic and pedagogical competence of primary and secondary school English language teachers, and to identify those teachers with the potential to become master trainers, thereby enabling Chennai’s teaching profession to become self-reliant in training and development.
Launched in 2013, the pilot project has delivered its first objective, a benchmarking assessment of existing English language competences. The assessment first measured the skills of 100 teachers from 79 primary schools across the city, using the Cambridge English Placement Test. The same teachers then undertook a short (48 -hour) preparation course before taking either Cambridge English: Key (KET) or Cambridge English: Preliminary (PET) (administered by Cambridge University Press).
Results showed that the best teachers made a significant improvement in their skills after taking the short programme. However, closer analysis revealed that listening and speaking skills were relatively weak compared to reading and writing. This knowledge is being used to modify the learning course for subsequent programmes.
The benchmarking pilot was considered a great success by both Chennai Corporation and the Tech Mahindra Foundation. As a result, Cambridge English has been asked to repeat the project and to extend its scope in terms of the numbers assessed, possibly extending the project to other cities. To do this, Cambridge English will work with external training providers who have the infrastructure required to train significant numbers, and who can also validate an approach which could become a model for English teacher development in other regions worldwide.