The problem we addressed in the DysTEFL2 project is that even though foreign language teachers have a legal responsibility both to anticipate the needs of dyslexic students and to accommodate them so that they can be fully included in the mainstream classrooms, this obligation notoriously fails to translate into practical applications in the classroom. Teachers of foreign languages are very poorly (if at all) equipped with knowledge and skills to effectively teach dyslexic students who should be offered special adjustments in the teaching process to function with success in regular schooling. We believe that in order to improve the opportunities of learners with dyslexia to acquire another language, the process needs to focus on teacher training.
The target audience of this project included (and still does via the exploitation activities) pre-and in-service teachers of English as a foreign language, institutions of higher education; local, regional, national and international institutions and associations preoccupied with the professional training of foreign language teachers; educational stakeholders and authorities.
The aim of the project was to improve the scheme of initial and continuing professional development of teachers of English as a foreign language so that teachers can gain the necessary competences to adapt their teaching to special educational needs of students with dyslexia. DysTEFL2 objectives involved the exploitation of the DysTEFL materials and sharing good practice, in particular the award winning DysTEFL course, among educational stakeholders. The more specific aims involved updating and supplementing the DysTEFL course with relevant materials and providing European EFL teachers with a number of training opportunities, offered in different modes which included intensive five-day-long face-to-face courses organised in the project partner countries, on-line self-study course (which attracted over 1400 participants),massive open online courses – MOOC (with over 18 000 participants).
DysTEFL2’s activities included conducting the EFL teachers’ professional needs analysis with regards to dyslexia and gaining special (certified) qualifications in the field of teaching foreign languages to dyslexic language learners, the preferred learning pathways/modes and course providers as well as course content. Also, the needs analysis involved exploring legal requirements and possibilities of course certification in project partner countries. Based on the needs analysis outcomes, updates and changes were incorporated into the DysTEFL2 course, the major one involving introducing a battery of tests (on unit and course level) and procedures for confirming learning outcomes and certifying qualifications. The DysTEFL2 course book comprises three parts – Trainer’s Booklet (including step-by-step comments and sample answers),Trainee’s Booklet and Test Booklet (with key) accompanied by a CD-Rom with all three parts of the course book and the appendices. The course book was printed in 600 copies and, as other results of the project, is freely available at www.dystefl2.uni.lodz.pl under CC Licence BY 4.0.
The project consortium, composed of three universities from: PL (project coordinator),EL and SL and the Society for Alternative Education (running schools at different levels) from PL, was involved in preparing, promoting and exploiting the DysTEFL2 materials. To ensure the access of all interested parties to the project initiatives and outcomes, information and communication technologies (e.g. project website, newsletters, social media) have been used. Knowledge transfer activities such as providing seminars, workshops and conferences for teacher trainers, EFL teachers and policy makers, organizing and running the DysTEFL2 course (face-to-face, on-line self-study, MOOC) for pre-and in-service EFL teachers from the project partner countries and beyond constituted a part of the project partners’ work commitments. Project’s activities and products are impactful in that they can close the apparent gap in foreign language teacher training and enhance competences of EFL teachers, thus maximizing the quality of teaching. European regional, national and international teacher training institutions and associations can easily and for free access the course materials and use them in their training schemes. Importantly, several European foreign teacher training institutions have already incorporated the DysTEFL2 course into their training schemes.
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