High-Tech Help for Plugged In Teachers
English language teachers across the country now have access to lesson plans, methodological articles and learning opportunities through the online Virtual Teachers Support Network.
The VTSN is provided for free by the National Education Ministry and the British Council as part of efforts to improve English language education in the country.
Lilik Gani, head of the ministry’s Center for Information Technology and Communications (Pustekkom), said on Monday that the network was essentially a Web resource, available at teachingenglish.org.uk and h2te.jardiknas.kemdiknas.go.id, that teachers could refer to in drawing up lesson plans.
“We’re now living in the 21st century, where information technology and communication gives every person a much wider opportunity to teach and learn English,” he said.
“This is a new method to improve the knowledge, skills and competence of our teachers.”
He said Indonesian teachers often struggled to come up with creative lessons that could hold the attention of students, a problem the VTSN could help with.
The materials available online include lesson plans that have been adapted to the national curriculum’s requirements for English language classes, and include lessons for students from elementary to senior high school.
To prepare the network, the British Council and the National Education Ministry employed 60 Indonesian teachers to translate and adapt the materials in both languages to ensure they applied to the Indonesian context.
“The lesson plans were drawn up by teachers at our office from 2009 to 2010,” Lilik said.
“The network also provides methodological articles that are anchored in Indonesian teaching contexts, and distance support systems that enable teachers to access learning opportunities directly,” he said.
The Web sites provide not only text-based resources, but also audio-visual teaching tools to aid classroom management and teacher-student interaction, as well as conversation activities and interactive games.
“There are also links to several ELT [English Language Teaching] sites and the latest information from the world of English language teaching, such as training courses and conferences worldwide that they can participate in,” Lilik said.
“We hope this program can reach and support as many as 133,000 English language teachers and more than 40 million students in the country.”
Danny Whitehead, head of English language development at the British Council, said the VTSN was a forum for sharing best practices.
“I have met many fantastic, motivated teachers in Indonesia who are making great materials,” he said. “The VTSN is designed to allow teachers to share ideas and best practices with their colleagues.”
Amelia, an English teacher at State Elementary School 10 in East Jakarta, said the VTSN had helped her design more creative lessons for her students.
“For instance, I start the class by showing the students a flashcard with a picture of a doctor and I ask them, ‘Can you tell me what profession this is?’ ” she said. “Then every student tries to answer the question.”
She said she then showed her students more flashcards depicting people from a variety of different professions, such as farmers, plumbers, firefighters and tailors.
“I make sure that they can answer my questions first before I divide them into small groups to work on more tasks,” Amelia added.
Each group is then given a stack of flashcards of the different professions and is asked to prepare a presentation describing the professions to the rest of the class.
“That way they become more involved in the lesson and they tend to have a better understanding of the subject they’re studying,” Amelia said.
“It becomes easier for them to remember the lesson.”
Similar learning resources are available for students and parents at britishcouncil.org/learnenglishkids, and for teenagers, adults and professionals at britishcouncil.org/learnenglish.