Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The ERASMUS Teaching Staff Mobility: The Perspectives and Experiences of Turkish ELT Academics

Academic journal article The Qualitative Report

The ERASMUS Teaching Staff Mobility: The Perspectives and Experiences of Turkish ELT Academics

Article excerpt

With the globalization, networking, economic integration and the Internet, English has become one of the symbols of our epoch and undisputedly it has had the position as a lingua franca of the world. The rise of English as a global language has a noticeable impact upon policies and practices in educational systems in around the world (Crystal, 1997; Nunan, 2003; Mauranen & Ranta, 2009). Due to the strategic and geopolitical status, Turkey has been under the influence of English and reflected this influence on its educational system as well. Teaching of English at all levels has had a great importance in the Turkish education system. The government has made a number of reforms on the curriculum, teaching methods, teacher training and teacher education programs (Dogancay-Aktuna, 1998; Dogancay-Aktuna & Kiziltepe, 2005; Kirkgoz, 2007). Education unity among the European Community has a significant role in the process of unifying Europe. Consequently, with the thoughts of strengthening a regular determined and democratic society, the education ministries of 29 European countries, opened up the unifying process in education by signing the Bologna Declaration in June 19, 1999 (Dolacir & Tuncel, 2004). The aim of the Bologna Declaration is to create a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) based on international cooperation and academic exchange and to promote the European system of higher education in the world (Van der Wende, 2000). Turkey joined the Bologna Process after a Prague meeting held in 2001 and since then higher education has gained more attention in the country. As a signatory country, Turkey has followed all of the requirements for integration into higher education (Aydin, 2012; Mizikaci, 2005). At this point, in the frame of the Bologna process, the European Community Action Scheme for the Mobility of University Students (ERASMUS) program has a great important role. As the flagship among the educational programs of the European Union, the ERASMUS program, which was launched in 1987, aims to establish a European Higher Education Area (EHEA) by facilitating the mobility of university students and teaching staff in both member and candidate countries (Teichler, 2002). The ERASMUS program includes some activities under three actions in higher education: (1) student mobility (SM) and staff mobility; (2) cooperation for innovation; and (3) support for policy reform. Promoting the mobility of university students and staff is one of the fundamental goals to be achieved by the European Union education program (Pineda, Moreno, & Belvis, 2008; Aydin, 2012). In the frame of the ERASMUS program, staff mobility for teaching is among the important actions of the program in terms of realizing ERASMUS purposes which aims at promoting the quality of higher education by the way of a pooling of intellectual competences and introducing a European dimension in the courses offered to who can not participate in Erasmus student mobility. Unlike student mobility, it is not boosted mainly for the benefit of mobile persons themselves; staff mobility for teaching is expected to contribute to both non-mobile and mobile students' learning. It develops the knowledge base of the departments besides the improvement of the curricula both at home the institution and the host institution (Delmartino & Beernaert, 1998; Enders, 1998; Enders & Teichler, 2005; Engel, 2010; Janson, Schomburg, & Teichler, 2009; Kreitz & Teichler, 1997).

Taking into consideration the importance of teaching English in the Turkish education system today, ELT academics working at English Language Teaching Departments in Turkey have an important opportunity to share knowledge and experience in another country and to update their professional knowledge by means of Teaching Staff Mobility (Richards & Farrell, 2005). Specifically, during the teaching period, the ELT academics broaden their experiences and their skills related to language teaching by improving their international and intercultural understanding. …

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