On the road with Gary in… Georgia

Decide what to adopt, then determine how to adapt

Gary in front of the Caucasus Academic Centre
I was in Georgia last month (the 58th country I’ve visited for Cambridge ELT) and a lovely country it is — although I was, alas, only able in the few days I was there to visit the capital of Tbilisi and its surrounding areas.

There’s a nice story about how the Georgians got their country. Seems they were late (because they had been eating, drinking and celebrating) when God was dividing the different lands among  various peoples. But the Georgians then preceded to sing and dance for God who was so pleased that He relinquished to them the land that He had been reserving for Himself — and so went to heaven instead.

I did do a little ‘heavenly’ eating and drinking and celebrating with the hospitable Georgians from CAC Books of the Caucasus Academic Centre who co-sponsored my trip. But I was mainly there in the days just before the start of the new school year to present two courses from Cambridge ELT which have been put on the Georgian Ministry of Education list of approved courses: Kid’s Box for primary schools and English in Mind for secondary schools.

In my workshops — ‘Teaching Kids Inside and Outside the Box’ for Kid’s Box and ‘Teaching with Teenagers in Mind: Method, Momentum and Motivation’ for English in Mind — I first talked with the teachers about the underlying methodologies of the courses and then we tried out various activities with ideas of how they could possibly teach those to their students.

But we also discussed how to supplement the coursebook because, as I always say (and as I believe I might have mentioned in a previous post; sorry), ‘Teach the class — not just the course book’. And of course teachers need to supplement their main coursebook with various materials: (legally) photocopiable activities from the Teacher’s Resource Packs which accompanying both courses, activities from appropriate titles in the Cambridge Copy Collection, ideas and downloadable activities available on www.cambridge.org/elt and of course the teacher’s own activities and exercises as well as those from colleagues — because I trust you’re in a teaching situation where you share expertise and ideas with your colleagues and, again as I say (although don’t believe I’ve mentioned this in a previous post), ‘Share the wealth!’ so to speak.

During the breaks and after the workshops, I also talked with the Georgian teachers about how they make adoption decisions. Well as usual, in a state school teaching situation, the course needs in the first instance to be on the Ministry of Education approved (and sometimes subsidised) list. Then teachers usually get together as a group and decide on one course (NB: not just one level) to use over several years. It’s usually a common/communal, democratic-ish decision (with often teachers with more experience and/or new-er teachers with (perhaps) fresher ideas who have the most to say) — although in some cases it might be the DOS or head teacher who has to ‘help’ everyone take the final decision.

How about your teaching situation? How do you and your colleagues make adoption decisions?

Looking forward to hearing from you and/or maybe seeing some of you during my upcoming back to back to back tours over the next few weeks in the Gulf, the UK for the big Language Show in London, and then Austria — which will be my 59th (and counting…) country for Cambridge ELT.

Gary Anderson, Cambridge ELT International Teacher Trainer

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