Towards culture of pedagogic excellence

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By 2017-09-10

By Ranga Chandrarathne and By Indeewara Thilakarathne

Creating a vibrant culture of pedagogic excellence may be a long term and cherished goal of any educator. However, such goal could be reached through well-designed continuous workshops on vital areas of pedagogy in a form of teachers' Camps and allied gamut of activities. This seems to be the core message underpinned at the recently concluded German Language Teachers' Camp at hotel Coral Sands in Hikkaduwa. Not only the teachers' camp became a meeting point of diverse stakeholders in the field of Foreign Language Education, but also it became a hub of sharing knowledge, expertise among teachers representing diverse institutions. Significantly, the German Language Teachers' Association LDaFSri (Lehrerverband Deutsch ALS Fremdsprache Sri Lanka) has laid a firm foundation for networking among German Language Teachers scattered throughout the country.

Pivotal role of LDaFSri
As a community of educators (Teachers), need for an organizational arms was a long felt. The formation of German Language Teachers' Association marks an important milestone in the teaching German Language as a Foreign Language in Sri Lanka. Being an economically well-established country in Europe, Germany offers educational opportunities free of charge even for foreign students although students have to meet certain requirements. Primary requirement is that the student's Advanced Level results should be acceptable to the University and student should have a required level of German Language proficiency. There is no tuition fee and the advantage is that students can work twenty hours during their holidays and earn money to cover their other expenses. Demand for learning German language has been growing with renewed prospects for higher education in Germany and lucrative employment opportunities in hospitality and tourism sector.

The bilateral relationship between Sri Lanka and Germany has improved following President Maithripala Sirisena's visit to Germany and several important MOUs have been signed. The MOUs, among other things, have given a prominent place for teaching German Language in Sri Lanka. According to a recent MOU signed between Sri Lanka and Germany, Sri Lankan nurses have the opportunity of working in Germany for a German pay after acquiring required German Language proficiency in Sri Lanka. Demand for nurses has been steadily increasing due to the aging population in Germany where the population growth rate is low. This project has been implemented in the Philippines and Vietnam. They have also the prospect of getting permanent residency in Germany.

Against this backdrop, LDaFSri has taken steps to build up a network among German Language Teachers and to empower them by providing them with teaching materials, technical devices as well as latest know-how in the craft of teaching. German Cultural Institute (Goethe Institute) supports the German Language Teachers' Association by providing space to conduct workshops and seminars. Plans are also afoot to conduct an annual camp of the members of the German Language Teachers and to share their experiences. The important fact is that the German Language Teachers' Association has set an example for educators in the country that networking and sharing expertise in the area of pedagogy and updating themselves with the latest expertise in the field is as important as day-to-day class room work and other professional engagements in the capacity of administrators. Goethe Institute receives funds to conduct such events as German Teachers' Camp from regional institutions.

From a broader perspective, German Language Teachers' Camp was a success as it was able to address important areas in the teaching of German Language as a Foreign Language besides providing a common platform for sharing knowledge and experiences among German Language Teachers. Newly appointed teachers had the opportunity of cultivating relationships with senior teachers as well as expressing their needs and requirements by way of material and expertise. An important step that has been taken during the teachers' camp was to set up a data base containing information on German Language Teachers, schools where German Language has been taught as a foreign language and number of students in each school who take German Language as a subject. Several visits to school where German Language is taught was made to ensure a quality standard in teaching German and also to find out physical facilities available for teachers of German Language in their respective schools. (Lacking proper class rooms and space to conduct German lessons).

Diverse areas
The camp was attended by several resource persons to conduct workshops and seminars on important areas such as Teaching German Literature for Advanced Level Students, Pronunciation, German for Primary Students and Translation and Literature. Seminars and workshops on Translation and Literature were conducted by resource persons from the Kelaniya and Sabaragamuwa universities.

In order to set up quality standards among teachers, Goethe Institute would send a resource person to needy areas (outstation like Embilipitiya) to conduct German Language Courses for Teachers. In addition, Institute has also been planned to conduct several workshops during the year for teachers to train them in teaching methods and also to upgrade their knowledge. Teachers would be encouraged to teach German Language differently and in an interesting way so that the students would enjoy learning it and also enable to acquire sufficient knowledge to pass the examination and to acquire required qualifications. Among other things, the German Language Teachers' Camp provided insights into in-service-training of teachers and importance of continuous updating of knowledge of the subject and teaching methods. The German Language Teachers' Camp was jointly organized by German Cultural Institute,

Colombo and the German Language Teachers' Association LDaFSri (Lehrerverband Deutsch ALS Fremdsprache Sri Lanka).

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