Three years after our last visit, we flew to Tel Aviv on March 31 with a team of specialist language tutors: Richenda Askew, Jackie Halsall and Jonny Kowal together with David Pearce, a Drama specialist, for a week of training.
Fr Iyad Twal, the Education Director in Palestine and Israel for LPJ, has developed a five-year programme in which every member of the educational system will receive training.
We were based in the parish of Birzeit, a 20 minute journey from Ramallah by school bus. The 41 teachers attending the course came from across the West Bank, often travelling long distances each day. These teachers are academically qualified and possess a sound knowledge of English but have received little teacher training before starting their careers. Training for LPJ teachers is not provided by the state and we, as English, are uniquely qualified to help them to improve their skills in English, the global language.
Rawan Mussallam, the Principal at Birzeit, welcomed us with open arms and Parish Priest, Fr Louis Hazboun, kindly let us use his parish hall. A busy week of workshops and seminars followed.
We were delighted to meet teachers who had received some training between 2013 and 2016, and to discover how they had progressed. We are pleased that some are acting as trainers for others and are cascading best practice. They received advanced training on strategies for listening, reading, writing, critical thinking, reflection and further activities to encourage English fluency and comprehension.
A further group of 14 enthusiastic new teachers of English were, through lively workshops, introduced to student-centred teaching techniques, classroom layout dynamics, receptive skills, error correction and how to ‘humanise’ the course book.
On their final day, they all had to present a three-minute micro-teach or lesson, demonstrating their adoption of some of these new strategies.
As a new initiative, both of these two groups had a Drama session with David to encourage and inspire a fluency in English through Drama. The third group of 16 teachers, enjoyed three days of Drama with David and were enthused and inspired.
The teachers were delighted and reassured to hear that they were remembered, that people in the UK prayed and cared for them. They are now aware and grateful that 230 kind CNT donors, The Sir Harold Hood Foundation, the Lenten collections from the Diocese of East Anglia and donations from parishes are generously assisting them. This gives hope, the greatest of gifts.
Pictured above are the teachers and the tutors on the steps of Birzeit Church, built by the Christian and Muslim community