Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Critical Review of the CELTA Syllabus within the Context of Saudi Arabia

Academic journal article International Journal of English Linguistics

A Critical Review of the CELTA Syllabus within the Context of Saudi Arabia

Article excerpt

Abstract

The focus of this paper is on the cultural aspects of the internationally, well-recognised and accepted international teacher training course known as Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA), or rather, the lack of it. In what follows, we will first discuss the various aspects related to the importance of culture and its inclusion in the field of English Language Teaching (ELT). Next, we will discuss the main highlights of the CELTA course and its main components and present a practical suggestion for implementing a short 'culture' component that can be easily integrated into the course where it will increase cultural awareness amongst new teachers embarking on a career abroad in a foreign country and hopefully achieve pedagogical competence when working abroad.

Keywords: ESOL, CELTA, ELT, EFL, outer circle, inner circle, western culture, Saudi culture. Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz University, English Language Institute

1. Introduction

1.1 The Cohort of the Problem

Considered to be a short, initial training program for those with limited experience teaching English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL), the international teacher training course known as Certificate in English Language Teaching to Adults (CELTA) aims to equip ESOL teachers to teach in a variety of contexts around the world. However, a close examination of the CELTA syllabus indicates that practical teaching skills and teacher behaviour are predominant features of its curriculum, while cultural aspects of English language instruction are often neglected or overlooked. Ideally, training programs for language teachers should prepare teachers "not only in the technical knowledge of language of various discourses of related fields, but [should also focus on] the cultural and socio political issues that come with teaching English" (Troudi, 2006, p. 119). With such cultural awareness, teachers can ensure that every aspect of their practice is informed by a deep understanding of students' local culture, students' approaches to learning English, and students' identities as second or foreign language users.

This paper questions the absence of cultural aspects in the CELTA syllabus in the light of international teaching contextual features. It argues that CELTA course designer and other educators of novice English language teachers need to consider including some cultural knowledge components in their curricula, in this context, Saudi Arabia. It is our contention that the introduction of these elements can help these teachers to prepare lessons that address their students' sociolinguistic and communicative language needs based on their own contextual learning culture. Also, having a thorough understanding of such cultural knowledge issues can improve teachers' ability to fulfil their purpose of students learning of English language as well.

To achieve this end, we shall first define the concept of culture in English as a Foreign Language (EFL) instruction and explain its importance. Following a general description of the CELTA syllabus, we shall explain how CELTA attempts to produce 'robotic teachers' who often follow prescribed teaching strategies in order to be successful in their classrooms, without taking the local needs of their students into consideration. Lastly, we shall suggest the introduction of post-method pedagogy principles in the CELTA syllabus as an effective means for offering EFL teachers' better understanding of cultural knowledge issues, and finally we argue that greater awareness of the potential advantages of these pedagogical principles in their EFL teaching contests can help to improve their routine teaching practice.

1.2 Cultural Knowledge

1.2.1 Definition of Culture in ELT

It has been stated that the term culture in English Language Teaching (ELT) includes cognitive, affective, and behavioural components (Kumaravdivelu, 2003a). The cognitive component includes knowledge about the geography, lifestyle, values, and attitudes in the second language (L2) learners' community. …

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