This is the story of how TESOL International
Association, together with George Mason University (GMU) and American Councils
for International Education, designed a cascading professional development
program to reach approximately 15,000 secondary English teachers across
multiple regions of Uzbekistan.
Shah-i-Zinda, Necropolis of Mausoleums, Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
The English Speaking Nation Secondary Teacher Training
2019, TESOL and GMU were each granted subawards of the English Speaking Nation
(ESN) Secondary Teacher Training Program in Uzbekistan, a program funded by the
Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy Tashkent and administered by
American Councils for International Education, to advance the English
proficiency and English language teaching (ELT) pedagogy in secondary public
schools in cooperation with the Ministry of Public Education.
began with a context analysis led by GMU in collaboration with TESOL to help us
understand the opportunities, resources, challenges, and areas of need. This
article highlights key aspects of the program, which will continue through
Understanding the teaching, learning,
and cultural context in Uzbekistan was essential to our planning and development.
countries in Central Asia, Uzbekistan is a former Soviet Republic where
plurilingualism is common. Uzbek and Russian languages are used in state and
business matters, as a well as several other regional languages, such as Tajik
and Karakalpak. A large majority of the population are Muslim, and traditional
familial gender roles and hierarchical relationships are commonly observed in
Teaching and Education
teachers often have extensive responsibilities in the home that sometimes
compete with professional development opportunities, especially those involving
travel. Classrooms are generally hierarchical with the teacher and the textbook
at the center of knowledge, and curriculum can be highly regulated with limited
teacher and student autonomy. Public school teachers also work 6 days a week in
most settings and commonly take on additional private tutoring or extra jobs to
supplement their salaries. In rural areas, English-speaking environments can be
hard for teachers and students to access, and English teacher proficiency
levels typically range from A2–B2 levels on the Common
European Framework of Reference for Languages.
interruptions to electricity along with limited or expensive internet access
have created barriers to the development of digital literacy skills, with a
primary reliance on cell phones as a digital tool for communication and
learning. Running the program during the COVID-19 pandemic added more layers of
complexity to our program.
All of these
factors impacted where, when, and how teacher development opportunities were
capacity in the program and to make it scalable, we planned to implement a
cascading training model, which included engaging local ELT professionals
supported by TESOL and GMU instructors, TESOL coaches, and ESN coaches from
(CTs): teachers with the strongest English skills and capacity
for facilitating professional development, who will have earned the TESOL Core
Mentors (RPMs): high-performing teachers with strong potential
for facilitating professional development
teachers from secondary public schools from regions with a high need for ELT
phase of the program focused on the development of the core trainers and
subsequently approximately 300 regional peer mentors who took the TESOL
Core Certificate ProgramTM (TCCP), and many also participated in the Teaching
English Through English online course developed and facilitated by
the GMU team, led by Dr. Joan Kang Shin.
the English proficiency levels in classroom and professional English, some RPMs
also participated in the National Geographic EL
Teach program. Approximately 220 CTs and RPMs participated
in one of two weeklong ELT development training of trainers programs following
the TCCP and Teaching English Through English course to prepare for cascading
training to the other RPMs, who will mentor the mentees in the final phase of
the program. Figure 1 shows the cascading structure, which will ultimately
reach approximately 15,000 teachers from secondary public schools, with the
first wave of cascading beginning Spring 2022.
structure of the English Speaking Nation Secondary Teacher Training Program
(Source: American Councils and ESN Program). (Click here to enlarge)
these professional development programs, teachers collaborated regionally and
nationally, enhanced their English language and teaching pedagogy, and began to
prepare to facilitate professional learning with their colleagues. Professional
development was designed and delivered by expert TESOL instructors and coaches,
George Mason University Faculty, and ESN coaches from American
Training of Trainers participants share the certificates they earned in the TESOL Core Certificate Program courses.
TESOL Core Certificate Program
The TCCP is
an internationally recognized 140-hour short-term certificate program that
includes 120 hours of coursework delivered in two 60-hour courses: Foundations
of TESOL and a specialty course, in this case Teaching and Assessing Adolescent
Learners. Teachers also complete a 20-hour practicum, which includes 10 hours
of observation and 10 hours of teaching.
The TCCP is
typically offered online asynchronously. In consideration of the context and
challenges presented in virtual learning, we adapted the courses for
face-to-face delivery and employed strategies for content-based instruction to
support teacher comprehension of the more theoretical and academic aspects of
the course in English. We were prepared to teach the first cohort of CTs in
spring of 2020 but postponed until summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Several more sessions were planned and postponed until we pivoted back to
virtual instruction and offered
the first 40 hours of the Foundations of TESOL course to the CTs in
November 2020, with the hope of finishing in person, but ultimately conducted
the remainder of the first course virtually.
instructional development team drew on the expertise of Dr. Gena Bennett, Dr.
Nancy Ackles, Lisa Mann, and Elise Brittain, all of whom had experience working
in the region. In order to consider contextual challenges and scaffold the
virtual learning experience, we made several adjustments to the delivery and
content of the online Foundations of TESOL course, which included providing
scaffolds for the language, content, and technology of the course:
moved the course to Google
Classroom to allow for easy storage and access to documents, but also
relied heavily on the Telegram
messaging app for course communications, discussions, and sometimes
support language development and access to the content, we created video
lecture PowerPoints from academic readings to reduce the linguistic demands and
provide multiple listening and reading opportunities.
utilized online vocabulary tools and games like Quizlet
to support course vocabulary practice, while also embedding tools teachers
could use with their students.
doubled the length of each module to be delivered over 2 weeks instead of 1 to
provide more time to digest the content.
added synchronous online sessions each week to support engagement, speaking
practice, and modeling of key course concepts.
For assignment completion,
we provided a variety of high tech/low tech options. For example, teachers
could choose to summarize their learning by creating a digital infographic, or
they could hand draw a graphic organizer and submit a picture of it.
stretched us as developers and instructors, and also stretched the CTs, many of
whom engaged in an online course for the first time.
the Adolescent Learners course of the TCCP
in-person for the core trainers, employing an experiential and
inquiry-based approach that modeled learner-centered and communicative
pedagogies. With the support of American Councils, 13 sections of the TCCP were
offered, two blended, and the rest fully in person across
6 regions of Uzbekistan during 2021. COVID-19 precautions included
preentry COVID-19 tests, daily temperature checks, and use of masks.
were taught by TESOL instructors and coaches, ESN coaches, and one CT in Tashkent,
Fergana, Namangan, Bukhara, Samarkand,
American Councils provided in-country logistical support. Following the 120
hours of coursework, CTs and RPMs began their practicum. Coaches provided model
lessons and feedback on observations for CTs, who would in turn support RPMs in
their practicums, yet another part of the cascading training and
ELT Development Program
(Training of Trainers)
of Trainers program brought CTs and RPMs from the regions to Tashkent during
one of two weeklong sessions held 20 September to 2 October 2021. The agenda
included activities to review and synthesize learning from the previous courses,
a 2-day institute on The
6 Principles for Exemplary Teaching of English
Learners® which culminated with
cooperative microteaching led by TESOL trainers Dr. JoAnn (Jodi) Crandall, Mary
Scholl, Dr. Gena Bennett, and myself; introduction to training planning tools
and best practices led virtually by George Mason faculty and facilitated by ESN
coaches locally; and, finally, team action planning and workshop development in
Teachers engage in cooperative learning activities and summarize key concepts before giving group presentations.
The TESOL 6
Principles training program included scaffolded facilitation plans and
materials written to be accessible at the A2–B1 level on the Common European
Framework of Reference for Languages, developed in collaboration with TESOL
consultant and trainer Linda Wesley. The Training of Trainers program was also
facilitated in collaboration with ESN coaches from the American Councils ESN
U.S. Coaching Program. CTs and RPMs prepared action plans to conduct between
40–50 hours of training upon return to the regions.
continuity, language models, and classroom-based feedback and mentoring over
time, TESOL selected five ELT coaches to go to Uzbekistan to work with CTs
and RPMs in the regions for periods of 3–9 months. Arriving in time for the
Training of Trainers program, several coaches were able to meet the CTs and
RPMs and support the development of action plans and workshops for the
cascading training of both the Teaching English through English course and the
6 Principles. Additionally, coaches taught the final three sections of the TCCP
and were able to support practicum observations immediately following the
course completion by leading observation and feedback sessions at local schools
with the presenting teacher and local CTs and RPMs.
ELT Development Program (Training of Trainers) TESOL Facilitators, TESOL Coaches, and ESN Coaches.
and February of 2022, amidst a return of the pandemic and national school
closings, coaches helped the CTs and RPMs in conducting virtual teaching and
observation lessons on Zoom, supporting the preparation of cascading training
plans and schedules, and developing proposals for the TESOL Regional Conference
to be held in Tashkent in June. RPMs are finishing their practicums in February
and plan to begin cascading in March.
TESOL Coaches, Left to Right: Lizabeth England, Tamrika Khvtisiashvili, Armen Kassabian, Laura Hancock (missing from photo is Yuta Otake).
TESOL Regional Conference
Regional Conference, entitled “Language Teachers as Innovators:
Digital Literacies and Communicative Approaches,” will be held in Tashkent,
Uzbekistan 13–16 June 2022 and is expected to bring together approximately 600
ELT professionals in discussion of “ELT innovations in the advancement of
learner-centered, communicative English instruction; digital and
multiliteracies; and ELT professionalism within a Central Asian context” (TESOL
International Association, 2022). CTs and RPMs have also worked with ESN and
TESOL coaches to prepare proposals for the event.
Professionalism and Capacity
Through the work highlighted in this article, it
was important to consider sustainability and capacity building. Though our PD
programs aimed to lay a strong foundation for the advancement of ELT in
Uzbekistan, we aspire to support teachers in their own continuous professional
Through the ESN program, we provided TESOL
memberships to 90 CTs and more than 300 RPMs. Important to the sustainability
of the program was scaffolding the learning, mentoring, and facilitating
process. As teachers have observed and provided collegial feedback in classroom
teaching, developed training plans and cofacilitated professional development
with their peers, and prepared proposals—and will soon present conference
presentations—we hope they likewise will engage with ELT colleagues globally
through the association and continue to contribute to the field of ELT, both in
Uzbekistan and as global TESOL members.
Participants of the ELT Development Training of Trainers Program, Tashkent.
International Association. (2022). TESOL Regional Conference 2022. https://www.tesol.org/attend-and-learn/tesol-academies-conferences-symposiums/upcoming-regional-tesol-conferences/tesol-regional-conference-2022
Faust, Consultant on Grants and Special
Projects for TESOL International Association, directs the TESOL English
Speaking Nation Grant Subaward on behalf of TESOL, along with other blended
professional learning projects. She has led international ELT capacity building
projects in Peru, India, the Dominican Republic, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan,
and has developed and facilitated online and in-person professional learning
programs with teachers from more than 100 countries.