Algeria – Improving English Teaching and Learning for Employability, Resilience and Networking. Report from British Council Algeria.
Purpose of this research
In response to the growing demand for English in Algeria and the associated opportunities English provides for young people to improve thei employability, resilience and networking the British Council commissioned this research in March 2020 in order to understand, from different stakeholder perspectives, what systemic improvements in the teaching and learning of English are needed and how they can be most effectively implemented.
This executive summary highlights our main findings and key recommendations, as well as the principal themes of the contextual review. The main body of the report provides a more detailed analysis of the context and research results that generated our recommendations.
Curriculum, exams and textbooks
There is an abiding mismatch between the communicative principles and competency-based approaches explicitly advocated in the reformed national curriculum for English language teaching, and the actual teaching practices prevalent in many middle and secondary school contexts. Key factors are the final exams and the textbooks that are responsible for a classroom culture of ‘teaching to the test’, producing an unfocused ‘general’ English, whose content is ill-matched to the needs of business and industry. There is a strong case for investigating the feasibility of textbook and assessment reforms to aim for greater alignment with curriculum principles.
Our research points to significant differences between ENS-trained teachers and those who enter the profession from universities, as well as generational differences. Limited initial teacher preparation and constraints of time and distance on the extent of in-service training provided by school inspectors suggest the need for a concerted Continuing Professional Development (CPD) initiative to reconcile teachers’ attitudes and teaching practices with the principles informing the curriculum.
A review of the training and professional development currently provided by inspectors, would serve as the basis to re-focus this support system to enhance students’ future employability.
Availability of basic classroom technology in state schools is often limited and outside major cities in some cases may be non-existent. This lack of resources imposes severe limitations on what teachers can achieve with relatively large classes in the limited number of teaching hours allocated to English as learners’ second foreign language.
The integration of digital technology could provide effective ways of meeting these challenges. While connectivity and access to computers remain uneven across the country, mobile phone penetration (103 per cent) strongly suggests the potential for language educators to consider the integration of new technologies into their teaching at middle, secondary and tertiary levels, and there is scope for investigating this potential.
Vocational language training
Specific language needs of business, trade and industry are not well served by current provision. There is a pressing need for targeted ESP teacher training in higher education and for sector-specific materials development. Further investigation is also needed into the rapidly expanding private ELT sector in order to better understand the demand for English, what is currently being provided, for what purposes, where and to whom.
Language skills for the real world
The acquisition of English is seen by the population at large and by learners in particular as socially and professionally desirable, but the study of English is seen by most learners as a curriculum subject to be studied and an exam to be passed. Motivation for English as a language is not lacking; the lack of motivation is for English as a school subject. There is a need for learners to develop a keener awareness of real-world purposes for learning and to receive ‘learner training’ (learning how to learn).