2.1 Overview of the chapter
My research aim is to study Indonesian teachers’ understanding and perceptions of their practices using the genre approach to teach English in Indonesian secondary schools, as well as how they perceive the importance of their own professional learning in transforming their teaching practice using this approach effectively in the classroom. There are three aims that I seek to answer as mentioned in Chapter One.
This chapter provides reviews and analysis of some related literature regarding the genre-based approach and effective professional learning for teachers. It begins with a short description of the English language curriculum and the genre-based approach to teaching English in Indonesian schools. It then continues to define and give examples of genre itself. Following this, it examines the pedagogical principles and potentials of the genre-based approach, and also the genre-based approach as an integrated approach to language teaching. Finally, it discusses the effectiveness of current teachers’ professional learning in giving them the ability to use the genre approach. These related fields of the literature provide a theoretical framework for the data analysis and discussions in the following chapters.
2.2 Context: the Genre approach in the Indonesian English language curriculum
English in the Indonesian educational system is a compulsory subject for secondary and tertiary education. Although it is not compulsory to teach English at the level of primary education, some primary schools in Indonesia have begun to introduce English to their students as a local content subject. Since the focus of this research is the use of the genre-based approach to teach English in Indonesian schools, a short description of Indonesia’s schooling system and its English language curriculum is briefly given in the following paragraphs as the context of this study.
There are three levels of schooling in Indonesia. Firstly, primary school consists of six grade levels of education (grade one to six). Junior secondary school also consists of three grades (grade one to three). Senior secondary school consists of three grade levels (grade one to three), with students in grade one all studying the same subjects and those in grade two grouped into one of three specialized programs, namely language, science and the social sciences. However, English has been declared as a compulsory foreign language subject until the end of secondary school. English is taught in four teaching periods a week, each class lasting approximately 45 minutes (Depdiknas, 2006a).
The education curriculum in Indonesia has experienced change several times. It is a government policy to renew and modify the Education curriculum every ten years. Such innovations aim to achieve better results in education. For the English language curriculum, several different approaches have been introduced to Indonesian schooling. They range from the grammar translation method, audio lingual method, communicative approach, developing English using target competence and the genre-based approach (Kasihani, 2000 cited in Emilia, 2005). The genre-based approach, being the current approach for EFL teaching in Indonesia, was initially introduced in the 2004 curriculum. By the year 2006, the 2004 curriculum was modified and changed to the Kurikulum Tingkat Satuan Pendidikan (KTSP) (translated as the multi-tiered education curriculum) but still advocating the genre-based approach to teaching English in Indonesian schools.
The 2004 curriculum and the KTSP recommend the introduction of at least five different types of text: recount, narrative, procedure, descriptive and report genres, to develop junior high school students’ English language skills. For senior high school, the curriculum recommends twelve types of text: recount, narrative, procedural, descriptive, report, news items, analytical exposition, persuasive exposition, spoof, explanation, discussion and review (Depdiknas, 2006b).
By using the abovementioned types of text, students are expected to gain certain target competences. For example, the target competence of listening for junior secondary school students is to understand and comprehend the meaning of narrative, recount, procedural, descriptive and report genre in the form of spoken texts, interpersonal and transactional interactions, and formal and informal situations, all of which are in the context of everyday communication (Depdiknas, 2006b).
Since the curriculum only determines the target competence through the teaching of several kinds of texts, it can be said that the curriculum offers much flexibility for teachers in their classroom practice. However, the curriculum also suggests that teachers practice the ‘curriculum cycle’ that consists of four stages of learning in the classroom. The four stages consist of building students’ knowledge of the field, modelling the text, joint construction of text and independent construction of text. The genre approach and the curriculum cycle as the recommended instructional approach for teaching EFL in Indonesian schools are discussed in more detail in the following paragraphs.
2.3 The Genre approach
2.3.1 Genre in language learning: definitions and examples
One of the first issues to arise in any discussion of genre and its pedagogical potential in language learning is that there are actually many definitions of genre. The definition is influenced by the emphasis given by those who work with genre theory to different aspects of genre based on their particular interest. Arguably, there are three main perspectives of genre theory that are distinguished from the research and pedagogy they encourage; namely the new Rhetoric school, the English for Specific Purposes (ESP) approach and the Systemic Functional linguistics (SFL) (Hyland, 2002; Derewianka, 2003).
Most discussion of the pedagogical potential of genre in education draws heavily on the definitions given by Swales and Martin. According to Swales (1990, p.58), who works on the ESP approach, “a genre comprises a class of communicative events, the members of which share the same set of communicative purposes”. In the systemic functional linguistics perspective on genre, also known as “the Sydney school” (Hyland, 2002) or “the Australian school” (Kay & Dudley-Evans, 1998), genre is seen as “staged, goal oriented, purposeful activities in which speakers engage as members of our culture” (Martin, 1984, cited in Kay & Dudley-Evans, 1998, p. 308). Both Swales and Martin agree that it is the communicative purpose that brings genre into being, shaping the “schematic” structure that is “the beginning, middle and end structure of text” and influencing choices of content and style (Swales, 1990, p. 86 and Martin, 1985, p. 86). Martin’s definition, as elaborated further by Painter (2001, p. 167), emphasises the following three points:
1. Any genre pertains to a particular culture and its social institution (hence, “social process”);
2. Social processes are purposeful (hence ‘goal oriented”); and
3. It usually takes a number of steps to achieve one’s purpose (hence a “staged” process).
Any activity “which regularly occurs in society” (Dudley-Evans, cited in Paltridge, 1996, p. 237), for example buying an item in a shop, and that may to a greater or lesser extent involve language and may require stages of procedure such as the bargaining process, the decision to buy, and making payment (Martin, 2001), and “are considered by the speech community as being of the same type” (Richards et al, cited in Paltridge, 1996, p. 237) is an example of a genre.
To provide a better understanding of genre characteristics, the following example is an elaboration of the narrative genre which is based on Martin’s definition. People use language in the form of the narrative genre for the purposes of telling a story, entertaining or perhaps teaching other people about a particular social norm. The purpose of the user affects the type of text they construct such as telling a story using a short story or fairy tale. Each type of text has its own characteristics of generic structure and linguistic features that contribute to achieving the overall social purpose of the user. The generic structure (also referred to as thematic structure) of the narrative genre is orientation, events, complication, and the resolution. The common linguistic features of the narrative genre include the use of past tense, interaction in the form of dialogue between the story’s characters, the use of many ‘action’ verbs that describe what people do and the use of sequence of time (Derewianka, 1990; Gibbons, 2002). These characteristics distinguish the narrative genre from other genres such as the instruction genre that has the purpose of telling someone how to do something. The awareness of text names, communicative purposes, formal features, reader and writer roles, content, and contexts refer to the knowledge of genre. (Johns, 1997, cited in Hyon, 2002)
Martin’s work has, then, developed as one of the bases of pedagogical applications of teaching English as a first and second language in Australian schools. Genre analysis in Australian schools is mostly based on the genre’s social purpose, particular overall schematic structure, specific linguistic features, context in use and the shared agreement between members of the culture about its social function for communication (Gibbons, 2002; Thornbury, 1999; Derewianka, 1990 & 2003).
In this study, I mainly focus on the systemic functional linguistic approach to genre that was initially developed for Australian schools. The ESP approach and the systemic functional linguistic approach to genre theory are quite similar in some aspects such as in the emphasis on the communicative purpose of genre in culture as earlier mentioned. The significant distinction between them is that the ESP approach is motivated by the pedagogical application of genre at the level of tertiary education and professional levels, while the systemic functional linguistic approach is more concerned with the pedagogical application of genre in schools (Derewianka, 2003). This discussion will focus on the systemic functional linguistics perspective on genre theory because the implementation of the genre-based approach in Indonesian schools draws heavily on the impact of this perspective on the syllabus and on its implementation in curriculum in Australian schools.
2.3.2 Genre pedagogy and issues on its pedagogical application
18.104.22.168 Pedagogical principles of the genre approach
One of the underlying principles of the pedagogical application of the genre approach in the classroom is that language should be learned “through guidance and interaction” in the context of shared experience (Painter, 1986 cited in Macken-Horarik, 2002, p. 26). This principle is based on the work of the Russian psychologist Vygotsky (1978), who suggests that learning occurs with support from those more knowledgeable, in the learner’s “zone of proximal development” – that is at the “outer edges” of a learner’s current abilities (Gibbons, 2002, p. 47). This means that genre pedagogy was developed to be highly interventionist, which placed emphasis on the importance of the teachers’ intervention in the learning process. It is believed that teachers play a crucial role in “organizing learning challenges for students” (Macken-Horarik, 2002, p. 41) by developing “more equal and respectful relationships with their students” and facilitating a “humane, interesting, and interactive educational setting” (Feez, 2002, p. 48). As Cope and Kalantzis (1993, p. 18) claim, “genre literacy sets out to reinstate the teacher as a professional, an expert on language whose status in the learning process is authoritative but not authoritarian”. Thus, a genre-based approach to literacy means engaging students in the role of apprentice and also means re-establishing the teachers’ role as an expert on language system and function.
Two important issues emerge when examining this pedagogy. Firstly, to what extent should a teacher intervene to help students with their language learning. Secondly, what is the most appropriate way for the teacher to intervene in student learning, keeping in mind the risk of creating a teacher centred environment, or spoon-feeding students.
According to Macken-Horarik (2002, p. 41), intervention should be given according to the students’ needs and teacher’s purposes in learning. Intervention within the genre approach does not mean ‘spoon-feeding’ students but scaffolding their learning (Gibbons, 2002). In line with this, based on the underlying principle of intervention pedagogy, the genre-based approach has been developed as “a visible pedagogy” for teaching language (Feez, 1998, p. 26). The”visible pedagogy” suggests applying explicit teaching that is seen as one way of giving appropriate intervention in student learning. It is concerned with providing students with explicit knowledge about language so that students will be able ‘to see’ the knowledge of language and understand how language works and is used in social practice. In the context of teaching particular text types using the genre-based approach with students, explicit teaching of a text includes the teaching of the text’s social purposes, generic structure, and linguistic features. (Derewianka, 2003; Gibbons, 2002; Kalantzis & Cope, 2000; Feez 1998; and Callaghan, Knapp & Noble, 1993). It is believed that explicitly exposing students to knowledge of genre can provide “a shortcut for the initiated to the processing and production of familiar written texts” (Johns, 1997, cited in Hyon, 2002, p. 21 ).
The idea of explicit teaching in the genre-based approach is a critique of the ‘natural’ approach to language teaching. The natural approach is based on the assumption that students learn language naturally and unconsciously, if they are exposed to the appropriate language input (Krashen and Terrell, 1983 cited in Feez, 1998, p. 25). It has been argued that with this approach, “students are rarely conscious of what is expected of them in terms of language learning” (Feez, 1998, p. 25; Gibbons, 2002, p. 59). In addition, it has also been argued that such approaches to language like the natural approach, which emphasise the interaction between students as the main focus of the activities with the teacher’s role limited only to monitoring input, also tend to reinforce the existing social inequalities of opportunity (Feez, 1985 cited in Gibbons, 2002). This argument suggests that the natural approach assumes all students are the same and learn in the same way. However, in reality, there is a great diversity in any classroom, both in background knowledge and learning styles.
The genre-based instruction that advocates the explicit teaching of social purpose, generic structures and linguistic features of a text, however, has become a controversy amongst those who use this pedagogy. Some critiques have been addressed specifically to this instruction. One of them is by Aviva Freedman. Regarding her work, Hyon says that (Hyon, 2002, p. 121):
“Explicit teaching of genres has only restricted value in improving students' writing. She [Aviva Freedman] hypothesised that although such instruction may be useful for some students whose learning style is in concert, it is generally unnecessary because students acquire genre knowledge tacitly, and it can even be dangerous if an instructor has inaccurate knowledge of genre taught”.
However, Willliam and Colomb (1993, cited in Hyon, 2002, p. 253) have argued that "the harm [of teaching genres] is illusory and that the benefits are many and exceed their cost". Hyon (2002, p. 139), in a study about the effect of genre-based instruction in developing students’ reading skills, concludes that "explicit teaching about genre features can be useful for building ESL students' genre awareness and for facilitating their text processing and production". Specifically, as Hyon (2002) adds, such teaching may improve students' genre sensitivity, their ability to identify important text information, their reading speed and confidence, and the organisation of their writing.
22.214.171.124 The curriculum cycle
In classroom practice, as Derewianka (2003, p. 142) argues, “there is no single teaching or learning method, strategy or technique that is specific to genre theory”. She also adds that “practices vary depending on such factors as the nature of the student group (e.g EFL/ESL, beginner/proficient, tertiary/adult migrant/secondary/primary) and the emphasis placed on particular aspects of pedagogy (e.g. the degree of explicitness)”. However, in the practice of teaching language using the genre-based approach, one widely accepted instructional approach in Australian schools is the curriculum cycle, also referred to as ‘the teaching and learning cycle’. According to this instructional approach, as developed by Martin and Rothery, “teachers first model texts from a genre and discuss text features, then assist students to explore the genre’s social purposes” (Johns, 2002, p. 5). In other words, the curriculum cycle attempts “to engage students in awareness of the social purposes, text structure, and language features in a range of identified text types of genre” (Callaghan, Knapp and Noble, 1993, p. 180).
There are four main developmental stages of the curriculum cycle: building knowledge of the field, modelling of the text, joint construction of text and independent construction of the text. The following elaboration of the curriculum cycle is adapted from Derewianka (1990) and Gibbons (2002).
The first stage, building knowledge of the field, aims at providing students with background knowledge of the topic. In this stage, the focus is on the content of information and the language of the genre of the text that is going to be used. Throughout this stage, the teacher and students will cooperatively build up a shared knowledge of the field. For example, if the students are going to write a persuasive text about whether or not animals should be kept in zoos, they need to build up knowledge about how some of the animals found in zoos live in their natural habitat. However, before they approach this, their “initial exploration is likely to be a sharing of knowledge about the behaviour of pets they are familiar with” (Rothery, 1996, p. 103). This initial exploration helps students to be prepared for approaching the next stage of the learning such as modelling of the text.
In the second stage, modelling of the text, a particular genre is introduced through a model text that deals with the field that the students have already explored in the stage of building knowledge of the field. This second stage aims to help students familiarize themselves with the purpose, generic structures and linguistic features of the genre so that they can understand it and deconstruct it. The focus is on the form and function of the texts. Since the genre-based approach is concerned with studying a particular text type, the selection of the text used plays a crucial factor in the success of the learning activity. As argued by Derewianka (2003, p. 136), “for modelling purposes, it is preferable to use texts that clearly demonstrate the key features of the genre”. In addition, Kongpetch (2006) suggests that selection of texts that are based on students’ needs and interests may contribute to the effectiveness of teaching English using the genre-based approach.
When students are already familiar with the model of a particular genre, teacher and students can work together to construct a particular text type. This is the third stage, known as the joint construction stage. The aim of this stage is to show students how a text is produced. In this stage, the focus is on illustrating the process of creating/writing a text considering both the content and the language. Finally, in the last stage, the Independent Construction stage, students are ready to work independently to produce their own texts within the chosen genre.
Although the cycle is arranged in the sequence mentioned above, Macken-Horarik (2002, p.26) contends that it is not concerned with finding the “right way’ to sequence teaching-learning activities, but more concerned with the “maximum assistance” that the teacher can provide to students in their early work on genre, before “gradually shifting the responsibility onto learners as they achieve greater control of the new text”. She also emphasises that “aspects of the curriculum cycle are part of a repertoire of teaching strategies, not a pedagogic sequence set in concrete” (p. 41)
Studies of teachers’ practice using the curriculum cycle in Australian schools show that most teachers agree that the curriculum cycle provides them with “strategies for planning, teaching and assessment which enables them to work productively with students to promote development in language and learning” (Rothery, 1996, p. 107). Another study conducted on the impact of teaching using the curriculum cycle with students shows the strength of the genre approach in encouraging “students to think, plan and work at the whole-text level result in graduates having an expectation of working with extended and elaborated ideas” (Kongpetch, 2006, p. 25).
Despite the abovementioned positive aspects on the application of the curriculum cycle, negative critiques about the practice of the curriculum cycle are centred on the possibility of being prescriptive in teaching. Particular features of a model text are explicitly taught to the students especially in the Modelling stage. There is a concern that students will follow the prescribed features of the text in producing their own writing (Kay & Dudley-Evans, 1998). It has also been a concern that teachers will focus on teaching features of a text and forget to involve students’ critical thinking and the awareness that the study of similar genres can have different features even if they have the same purposes (Thwaite, 2006).
126.96.36.199 The genre approach as an integrated approach
The genre-based approach is commonly translated as an approach to teaching writing. As Derewianka (2003, p. 141) mentions, the “teaching of genres generally privileges the written mode”. Many studies that have been carried out on the genre-based approach mostly focus on using genre to teach writing (see Cope and Kalantzis, 1993; Kay & Dudley-Evans, 1998; Kongpetch, 2006). There are not many pieces of literature that specifically discuss the genre approach as an integrated approach. However, the abovementioned studies on genre as a writing approach also suggest using the genre-based approach for teaching integrated language skills that “encourage the teaching of all four skills within the general framework of using language learning as well as for communication” (Celce-Murcia, 2001, p. 301).
The integration of the four macro-skills of language - listening, speaking, reading and writing, is the ‘distinctive feature’ of the genre-based approach (Kongpetch, 2006). The rationale is that teaching language involves both written and spoken forms. Although the emphasis and main focus of the genre-based approach is on teaching written forms of language, the spoken form is also needed and they are complementary in practice. In line with this, Derewianka (2003, p. 141) argues the importance of students having the “opportunity to develop the genre orally… as the bridge towards the written text”. To support this, Rothery (1996, p. 107) argues that “although the cycle foregrounds literacy, in fact students are talking and listening as well as reading and writing”. In addition, Kay and Dudley-Evans (1998, p. 312) contend that “clearly genres exist in speech and writing” and “knowledge of genres can be drawn upon in the teaching of speaking, listening, and reading as well as writing”. Therefore, it can be concluded that there is an integration of the four macro-skills in teaching using the genre-based approach. In fact, the implementation of teaching writing using the genre-based approach involves not only the integration of the four language skills, but also includes teaching other academic skills such as note-taking and data gathering (Gibbons, 2002; Rothery, 1996).
Teaching language using the genre-based approach also involves content integration that is “bringing content from the students’ field of study into the language curriculum” (NCLRC). This suggests bringing content from the students’ field of study by choosing the kinds of texts that are going to be used in the classroom based on the topic or theme of the text. Examples of this integration can be seen in the work of Martin (1990) and Macken-Horarik (2002) that model the integration of teaching literacy and science in teaching using expository and explanatory genres.
However, in the content integration, it is important to be aware that two texts from the same genre may have different generic structures and linguistic features. As Paltridge (1996) explains, texts from the same genre can differ greatly in their linguistic characteristics even if they represent identical functions and purposes of communicative events in the society. For example the explanatory text of the genre of science might have similar social purposes as other texts from the explanatory genre. However, the explanatory text about science can differ greatly in its linguistic characteristics. As Martin (1990) shows, the overall pattern and the linguistic features of the scientific genre are ‘special’; “it is not just the words; the grammar is special too” (p. 82). Similarly, Hutchinson and Water (1987, cited in Parkinson, 2000, p. 370) claim that it is “vocabulary and the higher frequency of some grammatical form” that differentiate scientific genre and ordinary everyday language. Thus, these differences should be made clear to students so that they will be aware of the language used for specific purposes.
Mohan (1986, cited in Parkinson, 2000, p. 373) argues that in learning language through content, “learners are not only learning the language, but they are using the language to learn”. Thus, the obvious advantage of the content integration in the genre-based approach is that students benefit from both the content of the language as well as the language itself. Not only do they get the knowledge regarding their field of study but they also get the knowledge of language related to that field of study. It can prepare students for the eventual uses to which the language will be put.
Another possible application of using the genre-based approach for teaching English is the integration of two or more approaches to teaching language. For example the integration of the genre-based approach and the process approach or the genre-based approach with the communicative approach. Practice of this kind of integration may result in a new approach to teaching language. For instance, Badger & White (2000) have proposed a “process genre approach to teaching writing” that integrates the genre approach and process approach to teaching writing. This kind of integration is also worth carrying out since there are many approaches to teaching language and each has strengths and weaknesses. Thus, combining two or more approaches can possibly lessen the weaknesses and add to the strengths of each approach, especially when the combined approaches are complementary. Since it is also being a concern that teaching genre may prove “to be a text-centred approach, focused on the production of the product, rather than a student-centred one” (Kay & Dudley-Evans, 1998, p. 311), this kind of integration can be particularly helpful for avoiding this problem. It can help teachers to focus more on the process of developing students’ understanding on the meaning rather than just on fulfilling the requirement of the packed curriculum.
2.4 Teacher professional learning
As mentioned in the previous chapter, educators, in this case in-service EFL teachers, are the ones who are directly affected by the introduction of new approaches for teaching English in the 2004 curriculum. This innovation requires them to be able to adapt effectively to the changes. One way of doing this is by actively involving themselves in professional learning.
Richards and Farrell (2005) distinguish two ways of learning for teachers; teacher training and teacher development. The former refers to “activities directly focused on a teacher’s present responsibilities and is typically aimed at short-term and immediate goals” (p. 3). They argue that teacher training mainly deals with basic concepts, strategies and methodology of teaching. They also add that teacher training is often seen as preparation training for pre-service teachers before they begin their teaching career or as a preparation to take on a new teaching assignment or responsibility.
Teacher development is more likely to serve longer-term learning and “seeks to facilitate growth of teachers’ understanding of teaching and of themselves as a teacher” (Richards & Farrell, 2005, p. 6). Through documenting different kinds of teaching practices, reflective analysis of teaching practices, examining beliefs, values, and principles, sharing with colleagues, and keeping up to date with new trends and theories, Richard and Farrell (2005) believe that teachers can engage in professional development. However, even though most of these strategies can be done individually, they contend that teachers’ professional development should go beyond personal and individual practices.
Richards and Farrell (2005, p.6-7) propose four conceptualisations of teacher professional learning that are based on the way the learning is viewed. The first one is teacher learning as skill learning. This view sees teacher learning as the development of a range of different skills or competencies, mastery of which underlies successful teaching. The second conceptualization is teacher learning as cognitive process. This concept views teaching as a complex cognitive activity and focuses on the nature of teachers’ beliefs and thinking and how these influence their teaching and learning. It encourages teachers to explore their own beliefs and thinking processes and to examine how these influence their classroom practice. The third view, teacher learning as personal construction, is based on the belief that the knowledge is actively constructed by learners and not passively received. Therefore, teacher learning is considered as teacher self-awareness and personal interpretation of their teaching practice through such activities as journal writing and self monitoring. The last conceptualization is teacher learning as reflective practice. It assumes that teachers learn from the critical examination of the nature and meaning of teaching experience for a better understanding of one’s teaching practices and routines by collecting information on one’s teaching as the basis for critical reflection, through such procedures as self-monitoring, observation and case study.
Because the discussion of teacher learning in this study is concerned with Indonesian EFL teachers’ professional learning in dealing with basic concepts, strategies and methodologies of teaching English using a genre approach, based on the abovementioned conceptual theories and views of teachers’ learning, the discussion of teacher learning in this chapter focuses on teacher learning as skills learning. However, it does not mean that the entire discussion is limited to the concept of learning as skill learning. In the following chapters, this discussion could be extended to the activities of teacher learning as a cognitive process, personal construction and reflective practice, especially if these issues emerge from the data analysis.
2.4.1 Effective in-service teacher training for the curriculum change
Several case studies on the effects of innovation in the curriculum show that there is an urgent demand for opportunities for in-service teachers to be provided with opportunities for self-development in order to be able to adapt to the changes in the curriculum (for example Le Roux & Ferreira, 2006 and Mirici, 2006). This is because in-service teachers are the key actors in the success of the implementation of the change. It is believed that one way of “providing opportunities for teachers to improve their teaching expertise and knowledge” (Le Roux & Ferreira, 2005, p. 4) is through in-service teacher education.
In the Indonesian context, innovation in the education curriculum also requires effective teacher education. First of all, the innovation needs to be introduced to the in-service teachers since they are the key actors in the process of the implementation. Since most of the in-service teachers are not familiar with the genre approach for teaching language in the new curriculum, the Indonesian government has designed in-service teacher-training for the introduction of the 2004 curriculum. Also, this government in-service training initiative is considered as the solution to the fact that not all teachers in Indonesia habitually conduct self-study to update their expertise in teaching, such as updating their knowledge about teaching using the genre approach. Furthermore, UNESCO (2002) reports that during the piloting of the 2004 curriculum, many Indonesian teachers’ resisted the implementation of the new curriculum. This resistance was triggered by “the feeling that they have to do more work, under the same conditions and without necessarily the capacity to develop or even teach such curriculum” (UNESCO, 2002, p. 36).
However, there are many issues concerning facilitating teachers’ professional learning through in-service training. Since conducting such training nationally, great amounts of capital are needed, such as money, time and expertise. Therefore, as argued by Bagwandeen and Louw (1993, cited in Le Roux & Ferreira, 2005, p. 4), “in-service education and training should provide efficient and cost effective programmes that will ensure the continuing education and professional development of teachers”. However, cost effectiveness is not the main concern in this study because most of the government initiatives in-service training programs for the introduction of the new curriculum in Indonesia are government funded. In this case, it does not cost participants any amount of money.
This study hopes to contribute knowledge that will inform efficient programmes for teachers through in-service teacher education. The efficiency of the in-service teacher education program is closely related to its effectiveness in assisting teachers to adjust to shifting educational demand. This is one major problem in providing in-service teacher education and needs careful examination because it is still “unclear how training is translated into an improvement in practice” (Balchin, Randall & Tunner, 2006, p. 239). In addition, other factors like no “satisfactory evaluation tools” being available and an overly wide range of evidence to be examined such as teachers, pupils, and schools make the issue of the effectiveness of the in-service education and training programs more problematic (CERI, 1978, p.40).
Some research has been conducted on the effectiveness of in-service teacher training in promoting the change in education by looking at its impact on teachers, students, schools, and government. Several aspects of training have been identified as the contributing factors for the effectiveness of a training program that includes course design, course components, course evaluation and follow-up programs.
188.8.131.52 Course design
Most in-service teacher training is designed to be conducted in a certain period of time that ranges from several days to several weeks. It may employ either ongoing or ‘one-shot’ strategies, however, “ongoing programmes are generally considered more fruitful and effective in achieving the desired objective than one-shot teacher training programs” (Mirici, 2006, p. 157). In line with this, Fullan (1980, cited in CERI, 1982, p. 54) argues that most in-service training is “ineffective because it is frequently based on one-shot workshops involving a large or in any case undifferentiated group of teachers, and provides limited time for teachers to learn”. In other words, one-shot training is considered to be ineffective because it limits the opportunities for teachers to learn. To support this, Ferguson and Donno (2003) argue that the duration of the training is an important factor in the effectiveness of a training program because limited time will limit opportunity for trainees to learn and develop their conceptual apparatus in order to reflect on and learn from their classroom experience.
In addition, delivery modes of training also play a crucial factor in promoting the changes in teachers’ classroom practice. Conducting professional training based on the conceptual theory of a particular subject matter, as argued by Ur (1992), is no longer appropriate and effective. She argues that the training of professional learning, in this case the professional learning of EFL Teacher, should be based on the development of “theory of action”. She defines it as “a thoughtful, systematic, and principled rationale underlying practice by means of continual interaction between the theoretical and practical components of a course” (1992, p.56). She further explains that:
The main objective of an effective ELT course must be the development of trainee teachers’ personal theory of action; and hence its main focus should be an ELT pedagogy course into which teaching practice and observation is integrated, and which uses a variety of experiential techniques as well as lectures, reading, discussion (Ur, 1992, p. 60).
This suggests that activities in the training should range from presentation of theory to practical application of the theory itself.
184.108.40.206 Course components
Fullan (1980, cited in CERI, 1982, p. 54) contends that another factor that results in most in-service training being ineffective is if the course components are “not linked to particular classroom or school problems”. This suggests that the content of the training should be designed as a response to the immediate needs of the trainees.
220.127.116.11 Evaluation and follow-up
Little attention being paid to the evaluation and a lack of practical follow-up support for a training program is one problem identified by Fullan (1980), cited in CERI, 1982, p. 54) as this could lead to an ineffective training program. Evaluation of the training usually focuses on technical procedures such as “how enjoyable the session or presenter were” rather than on “any changes resulting in working practice” (Gemmell, King, Randall and Sutherland, 2003, cited in Balchin, Randall and Tunner, 2006, p. 239).
2.5 Concluding remarks
In conclusion, this chapter provides related theories and issues on the pedagogical application of the genre-based approach in the Australian contexts where this approach has been developed. It also reveals the strength and weaknesses of this approach in teaching language. Through its pedagogical potentials such as the intervention pedagogy, teaching language explicitly and the application of the curriculum cycle, this approach offers the opportunity to develop a language based approach to learning (Rothery, 1996, p. 87). It is believed that this approach “has made it possible to identify what people need to be able to do with language in order to be successful in education, in the community, and in employment” (Feez, 2002, p. 44). However, there are also some critiques of the potential pedagogical approach of the genre-based approach. It is a concern that the practice of explicit teaching that could lead teachers to dominate the learning process and put students in a passive position. The practice of the curriculum cycle is regarded as prescriptive practice that suggests students follow the prescriptive convention of producing particular text.
Since this approach is quite new for most EFL teachers in Indonesia, related theories on the effective ways for teachers to conduct their professional learning to acquire the necessary skills to utilise this approach has also been examined. It is suggested that in-service teacher training is one way of providing teachers with the opportunity to learn new skills in teaching and to adapt to the change in the curriculum. However, the effectiveness of a training program on changing teachers’ attitudes to adapt to the curriculum innovation is still problematic. It is due the fact that there is no appropriate evaluation tool available and a wide range of evaluation evidence. However, it is regarded that appropriate course design, course components, course evaluation and follow up programs can contribute to the effectiveness of the training.