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    Language-sensitive teacher education
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Building block 3
How can language sensitivity be built into teacher education curricula?

Building block 3 suggests ways of re-examining teacher education curricula through the lens of language-sensitive education. The discussion of language-sensitive education in Building block 1 makes it clear that all teachers, not just teachers of the language of schooling or foreign languages, have a responsibility to take account in their teaching of the specific language features and language demands of their subject across the years of schooling. It is therefore essential that language sensitivity should be systematically and regularly focused on in all curricula for pre-service and in-service teacher education whatever school subject(s) are concerned.
Users may wish to explore the contents of this Building block in the order suggested. Alternatively, they may prefer to pick and choose what seems most relevant to their teacher education context.

Who is this Building block for?

  • those responsible for the content and quality of teacher education curricula at undergraduate and postgraduate level; 
  • curriculum planners and curriculum developers for teacher education;
  • teacher educators and those organising professional development for practising teachers.

This Building block is designed to be used by different stakeholders. However, while various aspects may be focused on by teams of individual stakeholders with different areas of responsibility, the Building block is intended to be used as a means of promoting reflection and consultation among all stakeholders in teacher education. 

Here you can read more about how different kinds of stakeholders are involved in planning curricula across different contexts:

Depending on the specific context, different stakeholders are likely to have a role in the development and revision of teacher education curricula. At the macro level, ministries of education at national or regional level may have developed specific standards and/or legal requirements. Taking these into account, the top management of a university faculty or education or teacher training college is likely to have laid out a mission and guidelines for teacher education across subject boundaries and perhaps within subject areas. At a meso level, those responsible for organising the teacher education for specific groups of student teachers (e.g. primary teachers, science and technology teachers, language teachers, etc.) play a key role in defining which courses or modules and other elements are included and what the intended learning outcomes are for each. Some of these modules may be ‘universal’ (e.g. educational psychology, educational theory, etc.) as they are designed for future teachers of all subjects, so heads of department need to collaborate on design and revision. Then, at the micro level, each module or course needs to be planned in detail, and its aims, content and the assessment methods and criteria to be used need to be described. Very often individual teacher educators/lecturers have responsibility for this in consultation with heads of department and colleagues working on the same course or module.

This Building block concerns the teacher education curriculum in its entirety, including all the courses and modules that it encompasses. Separate Building blocks deal with the more detailed work necessary when reviewing a specific course or module in the curriculum (Building block 4), and when seeking to highlight language-sensitive approaches in observation assignments and in school-based teaching practice that form part of a teacher education programme (Building block 5). Teacher competences for language-sensitive education are described in some detail in the Profiles (Building block 6).

Main objectives

To offer guidance on:

  • reviewing the content and intended outcomes of a curriculum and deciding whether they address the teacher competences and awareness needed for language-sensitive education;
  • deciding how and where to strengthen the curriculum in this respect;
  • choosing methods and principles for reviewing the language-related aims and content of teacher education curricula.