Since AMIDEAST launched the Professional Certificate in English Language Teaching (PCELT) in 2012 in partnership with World Learning/SIT Graduate Institute, more than 500 teachers in the MENA region have been trained and certified through the program. Graduates commonly state that PCELT was a turning point in their lives as teachers. As Fateh in Jordan says, “This was the first training course that made a real difference in my career and helped me see and understand my students well.”
But AMIDEAST wanted to go beyond the high ratings PCELT consistently gets during the courses (above a 92 percent satisfaction rate across the region) and dig deeper to better understand its longer-term effects, once these teachers are back in their classrooms. Thus, AMIDEAST carried out a large-scale impact evaluation with generous funding from the GE Foundation, which had also supported the PCELT pilot phase in six countries. Considering that the many PCELT alumni to date are now applying new practices that reach well over 30,000 students each year, the findings of such a study are that much more critical.
The GE-funded impact study was carried out in eight countries — Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestine, Tunisia, and Yemen — and involved the gathering of data through observations, questionnaires, and interviews. Both PCELT and non-PCELT classrooms were included, with 1,212 teachers, trainers, supervisors, and students providing information. The randomly selected sample in the study represented the very diverse PCELT teacher population in terms of gender, age, nationality, teaching experience, urban/rural context, public/private institution, and grades taught. All major stages of education were also represented, from primary to university classrooms.
The major overall finding from the impact study is that PCELT teachers have significantly better performance than their peers who did not receive the same training. PCELT teachers demonstrate prominent abilities in key practices linked to the learner-centered, interactive classroom, such as lesson planning that integrates all skills, group work that fosters student engagement, feedback that supports individual needs, and self-reflection for ongoing improvements.
Another critical result is that the impact of PCELT is homogenous in all eight countries despite the very different contexts in which the program is offered. This important finding attests to the sound design and consistent delivery of PCELT in the region. The students of PCELT graduates demonstrate lower anxiety in the language classroom, as well as such behaviors as working collaboratively in groups and respecting one anothers’ points of view.
PCELT represents a strategic direction for AMIDEAST in providing the region's teachers with critically needed pedagogical skills so that they can further their students' English language proficiency. In the years ahead, AMIDEAST hopes to make PCELT available to many more teachers in the MENA and further spread its evidence-based impact on teachers and students of English in thousands of classrooms, from Morocco to Yemen.