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Ольга Іщенко (Львів, Україна)

Going back to the history of Competency-Based Language Teaching (CBLT) that emerged in the United States in the 1970s we must emphasize that it has always been focused “on the learners and on what they are expected to do with the language” [5, p.141]. This approach can be described as “defining educational goals in terms of precise measurable descriptions of the knowledge, skills, and behaviors students should possess at the end of a course of study” [5, p.141].

The development of professional standards for teachers has grown in importance in the field of education in all countries including Ukraine. Introduction of the

standards for teaching facilitates national agreement and consistency around what constitutes quality teaching and national collaboration in supporting quality teaching. Understanding what teachers know, do and value is an important step in

enhancing the profile and standing of the profession. For this purpose we must differentiate at least five dimensions of the teacher’s work.

Dimension 1 describes the complex task of teaching and learning. It outlines how teachers plan,develop, manage and apply a variety of teaching strategies to support quality student learning.

Phase 1. Teachers facilitate student learning by planning lessons that engage

students and provide a purpose for learning. They experiment with different

approaches to teaching, addressing the needs of students and priorities of the

school. In this phase, learning is often teacher directed with the teacher taking

responsibility for determining what students will learn, to what degree and how.

Phase 2. Teachers develop a personal philosophy of teaching and learning based on extensive trialling of different teaching approaches. They are confident of their methods, providing more individualised education programs for students. Students are given greater opportunity to determine what and how they learn, what level of achievement they aim for and how they will demonstrate their level of understanding. In this phase, student-centred learning is a focus and teachers recognise their role includes acting as a facilitator and guide to learning.Phase 3. Teachers focus on student-centred learning and have an extensive repertoire of teaching strategies. They negotiate learning outcomes with students to support students in becoming autonomous learners. These teachers have a more global approach and recognise that student learning is best supported not only by the teacher but also by the wider community. They make themselves open to new and developing trends in education, acknowledging that teachers, colleagues, specialists and parents/caregivers must all work as a team in order to provide the best education for students.

Dimension 2 describes how teachers monitor, assess, record and report student learning.

Phase 1. Teachers assess learning experiences using a variety of assessment

strategies that allow all students to demonstrate their understanding of different

outcomes. Phase 2. Teachers record the information gathered through assessment

with accuracy and consistency. They use this information to report to parents and

caregivers on student outcomes. Phase 2. Teachers have a more extensive range of methods for assessing and recording student outcomes. They make evidence-based judgements about student outcomes and plan for further learning. When reporting, these teachers provide feedback to a wider audience and actively participate in whole-school monitoring, recording and reporting activities. They also ensure the validity of their assessment by verifying their interpretations with colleagues. Phase 3. Teachers recognise that assessment must be an ongoing process that provides information about student achievement as a result of learning experiences. They develop exemplary assessment strategies inclusive of students’ individual needs. When reporting they offer valuable insights into students’ beginning level of understanding, progress after completing programs of work and suggestions for future focus. Phase 3. Teachers take an active role in the development and application of whole-school monitoring, recording and reporting activities. They share their knowledge and experience of using innovative assessment to assist colleagues. They also review the effectiveness of their work.

Dimension 3 describes how teachers manage their own professional learning and contribute to the professional learning of their colleagues. Phase 1. Teachers are involved in identifying their own professional learning needs. They seek feedback and direction from a variety of sources to plan for and participate in professional learning. These teachers establish individual approaches to teaching and learning and undertake formal and informal professional learning to support and extend their teaching. Phase 2. Teachers continue to plan and participate in personal professional learning, moving their focus to developing a learning community. They support other teachers who are new to the school or to teaching by familiarising them with the school environment. They identify their strengths in regard to professional knowledge, understanding and skills and share this expertise in order to support the professional learning of colleagues. Phase 3. Teachers participate in professional learning as well as supporting the professional learning of colleagues. They engage in ongoing critical reflection to generate and apply new ideas that contribute to the improvement of teaching and leadership practice. They mentor and help establish school-based teaching and learning research projects to enhance all teachers’ learning.

Dimension 4 describes how teachers participate in the development and management of curriculum policy in their particular school environment.

Phase 1. Teachers participate in teams related to curriculum policy. With

guidance from curriculum leaders they are able to carry out tasks that support

team decision-making. Phase 2. Teachers help determine issues to be addressed at curriculum policy meetings and are able to collect, analyse and present information related to these issues. They support the implementation of curriculum policy and

provide guidance to colleagues where needed. Phase 3. Teachers are curriculum leaders. These teachers promote changes that improve student learning and support the implementation of system initiatives. They collaborate with colleagues to develop, manage and evaluate curriculum and program initiatives. They apply knowledge gained through extensive professional learning to the tasks of analysing the school’s operating environment and developing curriculum policy that responds to the specific needs of the school.

Dimension 5 describes how teachers build, facilitate and maintain working relationships with students, colleagues, parents and other people to enhance student learning. Phase 1. Teachers establish positive partnerships with students, colleagues, parents and caregivers. They respect students as individuals and respond to students’ needs appropriately and sensitively. Teachers operating in this phase work cooperatively with colleagues, acknowledging and valuing different perspectives. Phase 1. Teachers initiate contact with parents and caregivers, providing ongoing information about students and school issues. Phase 2. Teachers form positive partnerships with members of the wider school community. They see themselves as team members who take an active role in supporting other team members, providing constructive feedback and addressing the issues and concerns of others. These teachers also support the work of the team by attending to associated organisational tasks. Phase 3. Teachers facilitate and motivate when working with team members. They articulate and share knowledge gained through ongoing and comprehensive professional learning in regard to school development, curriculum and policy processes. They provide the direction for other team members and create mechanisms for ensuring the decision-making process allows for consensus, accountability, responsibility and equal opportunity. Thus, the teacher has to provide positive and constructive feedback in order to help the students to improve their skills. She/he needs to be aware of the learners’ needs so that everybody feels welcome in class.

There are both critics and supporters of Competency-Based Language Teaching. It is very difficult to develop lists of competencies for every specific situation due to the fact that many areas in which people need certain competencies are impossible to operationalise. Other researchers argue that describing an activity in terms of a set of different competencies is not enough in order to deal with the complexity of the activity as a whole [5, p.148]. But on the whole, CBLT is gaining popularity in the whole world. It is argued that through the clearly defined outcomes and the continuous feedback in CBLT, the quality of assessment as well as the students’ learning and the teaching are improved. These improvements can be seen on all educational levels, “from primary school to university, and from academic studies to workplace training” [2, p.15].


  1. Benson, P. Teaching and Researching Autonomy in Language Learning. London: Longman, 2001.

  2. Docking, R. Competency-based curricula – the big picture. Prospect 9(2), 1994 - pp. 11 – 15.

  3. Hornby, A. S. Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary of Current English (Sixth Edition). Oxford: OUP, 2000.

  4. Pennycook, A. English in the world / The world in English. In J. W. Tollefson (ed.) Power and Inequality in Language Education. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995.

  5. Richards, J. C., & Rodgers, T. S. Approaches and Methods in Language Teaching (Second Edition). Cambridge: CUP, 2001.