With the political changes in Bulgaria in the early 90s came a new level of demand for learning English. The British Council was asked by the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria for help with training a new cohort of English teachers for public-sector schools.
Client, stakeholders, partners
- Ministry of Education
Trainer and teacher training
With the political changes in Bulgaria in the early 90s came a new level of demand for learning English. The British Council was asked by the Ministry of Education in Bulgaria for help with training a new cohort of English teachers for public-sector schools. The background was the transition from compulsory Russian to compulsory English classes in schools.
The first stage of the project focussed on developing a cohort of trainers who could then work on "re-training" courses for people who had not taught English. Prospective teachers ranged from former teachers of Russian to engineers and business people.
Ten trainers were trained every year for four years, covering every region of Bulgaria. These trainers prepared the re-training courses and ran them for prospective new teachers in their areas. The trainers also followed a course of continuous professional development organised by the Project Manager, with meetings three times a year, coinciding with the academic timetable. In support of the training three ELT Resource Centres, based in Ministry of Education In-Service Institutes in Stara Zagora, Varna and Sofia, were established. The Ministry provided the premises, the British Council the resources.
The impact of the project was substantial. Some 800 people were retrained to become teachers of English. Legislation was changed to accommodate the trainers who had been trained under the project, and to give them official recognition. The trainers went on to hold key positions in Bulgaria; for example two became heads of new University English Departments, and others continued to contribute as high level trainers.
What the stakeholders say
Svetla Tashevska, who participated in the project and as part of the "Teacher Trainers Network", still continues (2008) to cascade the training to teachers in pre-service and in-service courses.
Svetla thinks that the project has had wide impact, not only by the creation of a new cadre of trainers and teachers, but also through new initiatives that the teacher trainers have led. These have included: a Baseline Survey of pre-service English language teacher education in Bulgaria; setting up OPTIMA (the Bulgarian Association of Quality Language Services) with the support of the British Council; setting up BETA (the Bulgarian English Teachers Association) and linking it to IATEFL as an associate, and the creation of an IT platform at university level for English Language Teaching.