An Assessment of the Status of Teaching of 21st Century Skills to Students of English as a Second Language in Selected Teacher Training Institutions in Zambia
AbstractOver the years, globalisation, technologisation and other factors have resulted in the need for teachers generally to acquire and apply 21st century skills in their teaching, most notable of which are critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and use of technologies. Teachers of English have not been exonerated from this wind of change. The need to train teachers of English as a Second Language (ESL), who are ready for the 21st century is not just necessary for effective delivery of English Language lessons but is also an important strategic step in the preparation of teachers who are equipped with knowledge that is fit for their pupils in the 21st century. However, the effect that this wave of change has had on the ESL trainer and teacher-trainee in Zambia has not been documented. This paper therefore presents an in-depth examination of the status of ESL teaching in selected teacher training institutions where English is offered as a teaching subject. The study sought to establish how teacher-training institutions were preparing their ESL teachers for the 21st century challenge. Among the 21st century skills, the study took a closer look at critical thinking, innovation, collaboration and use of technologies. A total of 120 participants, among them trainers and trainees, from 3 training institutions where English is taught as a teaching subject took part in answering a questionnaire on the current status of teaching 21st century skills in ESL. Preliminary findings show that only 29% of student respondents were able to list three 21st century skills as required by the study while others listed either less than three skills or did not exhibit any knowledge of the skills. On the part of the lecturers, several positive practices were noted given that 90% of lecturer respondents indicated that they used constructive arguments to promote reasoning and 82% affirmed that they assessed their students using high order thinking skills. However, these positive indicators diminished as only 48% of lecturer respondents acknowledged allowing their students to use technological gadgets for teaching and learning purposes. A further decline is noted in the area of collaboration where only 9% of the trainers of ESL teachers are shown to embrace the skill of collaboration in their teaching.
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