With the slogan ‘Cooperate teachers, empower teachers’, the English Teachers Association of Bangladesh (ETAB) has come into being in the educational arena in general and the ELT field in particular. It envisions empowering all English teachers of Bangladesh, enabling them to teach English effectively and interestingly and establishing a strong network among the teachers of the entire globe.
Being its birth in the 21st century, it wants to empower all English practitioners in Bangladesh equally irrespective of their professional stance, ethnicity and social groups through the improvement of professional and leadership skills so that they can meet the needs of 21st century English education and achieve SDG 4.
The principal objectives of ETAB are: (i) to foster brotherhood and fraternity among the teachers of all levels (primary, secondary, tertiary including general, technical and madrasah education) (ii)To establish a professional network among the teachers of all levels (iii)Decentralize leadership and practice shared leadership (iv)Improve English teaching and learning practices across the country (v)Ensure professional development and empowerment of all teachers irrespective of gender, race, faith and ethnicity (vi)To help young and novice English and other teachers grow professionally (vii) Ensure overall development of EL learners.
English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh central executive committee consists of a president and three vice presidents who head three important wings: professional development wing, research and publication wing, and primary education development wing, respectively. It also gives much importance to empower the female teachers of all categories and a team leader heads this unit. Similarly, madrasa (religious school) teachers receive huge importance from ETAB which another team leader also guides.
The activities and initiatives of ETAB stretch around the country by the real representation of root level teachers who basically witness negligence in the society. Hence, executive committee members have been drawn from all parts of Bangladesh that claim ETAB’s speciality as no such structural pattern is practised in any teacher association. It truly believes in the empowerment of rural teachers of primary and secondary levels.
Research and Publication Wing of English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh conduct research all the year round on different educational issues such as public examination, assessment, causes of students’ absence, dropout, etc. as our members get scattered across the country in schools, colleges and madrasas, they collect issues of research and conduct research. Professional Development Wing is comprised of a group of trainers who conduct training on pedagogy and language all year round, both online and offline.
They also work on different kinds of assessment with particular emphasis on formative and summative evaluation. Madrasa and Technical Teacher Development & Empowerment Wing strives to bring the madrasa teachers to the fore and realize their potentials for utilizing in the nation’s greater interest and establishing a real bridge between the general stream and madrasa teachers. Primary Teacher Development and Empowerment Wing put true emphasis on the development of the teachers of this level which English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh considers the most significant level of education as these teachers develop the base of our future leaders.
One or two formal pieces of training cannot ensure the professional development and honing of the skills of teachers. They need constant observation and engagement that ETAB promises to do. The Female Teachers’ Wing of ETAB mobilizes female teachers across the country, keep in touch with them regularly, arranges regular professional development events for them in consultation with the team leader, invite all the female teachers to stand on a common platform and help them come up with their own problems and share those with the female colleagues and find out solutions.
English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh believes and practices shared leadership. On the basis of this principle, ETAB distributes leadership across the country ranging from Dhaka to the remotest parts of the country. Leaders have been identified in the divisional, regional, district, upazila and even in union/village level who cooperate with each other and directly get linked with the central ETAB executive committee. These leaders hold monthly meetings with the teachers and educational institutions of their respective areas and run training, workshops, and seminars year-round. Better performing leaders have been accommodated in the central executive committee to take part in the decision-making process.
Many potential teachers lie throughout the country who can contribute a lot to the development of language teaching and overall education if opportunities could have been extended towards them. ETAB stands here to create that opportunity. The strategy of ETAB accommodates one international conference every year to strengthen the global network of teachers while one national/regional conference will also take place along with training, seminar, webinar, workshop, symposiums, and discussions that must go all the year-round.
Very recently, English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh has introduced the ‘Language Club’ to include more and more teachers in the association and extend the association’s direct benefit to the teachers scattered across every nook and corner of the country. They have really very little scope for practising listening and speaking skills. In the classroom, they have very little scope; outside the classroom, they don’t have. ETAB Language Club will give members opportunities to practice English in a relaxed, informal and different environment and setting. For many English learners, speaking is the most difficult part of the language to master.
To improve learners’/members’ speaking skills, they need to practice with other English learners or English speakers. But where they will get this opportunity? If teachers don’t speak good English, how students will? It is contagious; if teachers speak good English, it’s a great motivation for the students to speak and follow their teachers. So, teachers need to do it first and this is why ETAB Language Club. Ten to fifteen teachers will sit together for one or more hours to exchange pleasantries, everyday affairs, and academic discussion through fun.
English Teachers’ Association of Bangladesh believes it will offer the members a good opportunity to practice English by speaking it and letting learners practice English in more real-life situations. It will definitely increase their fluency, develop accents and build confidence to think and speak English. Also, they will learn correct English pronunciation.
Thus members will have a great time to sharpen their English skills, especially listening and speaking in a total English environment. Discussion brings a really exciting and stimulating time. Members will learn how to work as a team and become good team players gradually. The overall club activities will serve as a physical and mental tonic. Gradually, these clubs will introduce teacher and student debate as well. Thus ETAB promises the professional development of teachers, making them truly engaged in real-life practices.