Qatar - Training for Teaching Science, Maths and IT in English

Training for Teaching Science, Maths and IT in English

The Mohammed Bin Abdul Wahab Independent High School for Boys - Doha - Qatar, Nov 3-4, 2007

Trevor Drury invited me and Dr Lida Schoen to run two days of in-service training for teachers of Maths, Science and IT.  The training took place on Saturday and Sunday November 3rd and 4th, 2007 with 30 teachers at the school.  


The former MoE school has been working as an Independent school for just a year now.  As part of the preparation for Independent status the school has had a programme of continuous training over this first year.  This has now come to an end and to all intents and purposes the school is now left to get on with the job of delivering its curriculum to its learners.  School deputy principal Trevor identified the need for input on integrating content and language within the teaching of the school.

The majority of the teachers in this school are recruited from contexts such as Egypt, Algeria, Lebanon, and Jordan and they come with a diverse range of levels of competence in English.  Though most of the teaching so far has been delivered in Arabic, the aim in the long term is that most of the curriculum be delivered through the medium of English.  In Qatar nationally 80 of the MoE schools have now been approved Independent status with more being approved each year.
Trevor Drury, Deputy Principal

What the training involved

- Introduction to Content and Language Integrated Learning

Teachers considered the role of 'guidance' of input language in reading and listening 'texts' and were asked to create a guidance instrument with a given content text.
Processing language in Science, Maths and IT

- Investigating language of Maths, Science and IT

The colleagues were presented with a number of Science and Maths materials and asked to identify the 'core' language within the materials.  The language was then taken as the basis for creating instruments to support the 'production' of language in the form of language support sheets, writing frames and others.
Identifying language for specific purposes in secondary Science

- Cross-curricular project work

The teachers were given an introduction to the Science Across the World programme.  They got their hands on a sample pack of the materials and tried out some of the tasks.  They were also invited to join the programme which is still free at the time of writing.
Lida introduces the Science Across the World programme

- A practical chemistry workshop - the role of 'communication' in education

The last part of the workshop was dedicated to a practical workshop where the colleagues had to work in multi-disciplinary teams to produce a line of their own cosmetics.  They prepared a one minute commercial for their products and then presented this to the group.  There were prizes for the best.
Presenting certificates to the teachers

Follow up

Trevor has already talked about a follow up meeting in the future which will look at materials production for specific subjects in English.  In a market where there are so few resources for teachers to work in a foreign language, they will need skills to cope with producing their own.

In addition, classroom observation with a specific focus on how language is dealt with could feed in to further training.  This could be in the form of small-scale action research for the teachers collaborating amongst themselves to support each other and give each other a mirror for their teaching.
Lida and Hani from the Lebanon

Language development for teachers

There is a clear need for language training for teachers in this context.  The provision of such language development will need to be placed within the context of teaching a specific subject if it is to be most effective and useful for the teachers.  Imagine language service providers offering courses for subject teachers who want to learn English where the language training is placed in the context of a curriculum subject.  This could be similar to the on-line course ETEMS in Malaysia (English for Teaching Maths and Science).