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The Programme ‘Student Practice Teaching and Mentor Training” takes place within the framework of the elective course “Practice Teaching in TEFL” which the Department of Language and Linguistics offers to our 8th semester students. The particular course is a component of the Faculty’s “Pre-service EFL Teacher Education Programme” and aims at giving the opportunity to all the students who choose to follow it to carry out their teaching practice in a school class. More specifically, this course gives the opportunity to students to gain first hand teaching experience in a public or private primary or secondary school (among the list of schools collaborating with the University), for a specific number of hours, from the beginning of March until the end of May. Therefore, through this course, students apply the knowledge they have acquired and the skills they have already developed in the core courses “Applied Linguistics to English Language Teaching and Learning” and “ELT Methods and Practices”, as well as in other courses which are components of the “Pre-service EFL Teacher Education Programme”

More specifically, the particular course aims at:

  • providing student teachers with the opportunity to take the position of an informed observer in an EFL classroom in a Greek school and to systematically follow and reflect on the processes of teaching and learning therein.
  • facilitating the application of theory to practice, fine tuning student teachers’ teaching skills and promoting their professional awareness and development
  • familiarizing student teachers with classroom conditions and the discursive practices of participants in the teaching/learning process from the position of a teaching assistant.
  • providing student teachers with an opportunity to carry out supervised teaching for a short period of time.
  • familiarizing them, as far as possible, with the different activities associated with teaching.

In the academic years 2000-1, 2005-6 and 2007-8 our Faculty succeeded in getting funds (through the Operational Programme for Education and Initial Vocational Training O.P. "Education"- ΕΠΕΑΕΚ ΙΙ – Ενέργεια 3.4β΄) in order to materialize two programmes/aims: a) the Programme Practice Teaching of Students, which, inter alia, gave the opportunity to students to function as paid student teachers for two months in public and private primary or secondary schools and b) the Programme Mentor Education/Training through which we were given the opportunity to train the English language teachers that supervised our students during their practice as Mentors and to develop accompanying mentor training Handbooks .

More specifically, in 2001-2, through the Programme 20 third year students were appointed for two months in primary or secondary schools or other institutes offering TEFL, as teaching assistants or in banks, companies or publishing houses as translators. Prof. M. Sifianou had the scientific coordination of the Programme, Dr M. Drossou was responsible for the coordination of the programme while Ms M. Karali was the Programme secretary.

In 2005-6 and in 2007-8, 60 student teachers and 100 student teachers respectively took part in the Programme functioning as paid student teachers for two months in public and private primary or secondary schools. In addition, during the academic year 2005-2006 the Mentor training Programme was launched which gave the opportunity to train our cooperating teachers in their role as “mentor”. The training of mentors started in February 2006 with a seminar organized at the University staff building Kostis Palamas where the 60 cooperating teachers who took part were informed of the role and responsibilities of the mentor teacher and the potential contribution they can make to education of our student teachers. A draft Mentor Training Handbook was developed and distributed to all our cooperating mentor teachers. In July 2006 our Programmes were awarded the 2006 ELL award and were positively evaluated for their innovativeness and their potential for establishing mentorship schemes in Greece. In February 2007, before the launch of teaching practice course, a two day conference with speakers from the faculty and abroad was organized on the theme: Mentoring student teachers of English: Issues and possibilities. The aims of the conference were:

a) To bring together for the first time our mentor teachers offering them the opportunity to meet, discuss and share their ideas and experiences of the mentoring process.
b) To share our perspectives on mentoring, to discuss issues pertinent to the mentor role with experts from the field, and to identify directions for future action.
c) To promote the work and role of mentor teachers and inform relevant official bodies of the substantial contribution that mentor teachers make in the education of prospective teachers.
d) To raise awareness of how mentoring schemes operate in different countries across Europe.
e) To train our mentor teachers in a basic invaluable mentoring function; that of observing student teachers and providing constructive feedback.

The effectiveness and impact of the practice teaching and mentor education Programmes have been evaluated through questionnaires given to student teachers and their supervising teachers/ mentors before and after the teaching practice period. The questionnaire findings revealed that our student teachers greatly appreciated the support offered by their mentors and regarded the teaching practice experience as a highly rewarding, productive and enlightening experience which contributed significantly to their professional development as language teachers. Mentors themselves also found the experience rewarding and reported gains on a professional and personal level. The results of the evaluation have been published in journals locally and abroad and in 2008 a Handbook for Mentor teachers was published and distributed free to all our cooperating teachers (Karavas E. Mentoring Student Teachers of English: A Handbook., National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Faculty of English Language and Literature, RCEL Publication Series 1 RCEL publication series editors: Bessie Dendrinos & Kia Karavas). The scientific Coordinator of these Programmes was Professor M. Sifianou, Assistant Professor E. Karavas was Coordinator of the Mentor Education/ Training Programme while Coordinator of the Practice Teaching in TEFL Course was Dr M. Drosssou while Ms M. Chryssafi was the Programme secretary in 2005-6 and Ms O. Tsolou in 2007-8.

The Programme "Student practice teaching of the University of Athens" is jointly funded by the European Union and national funds and is part of the Operational Programme «Education and Life Long Learning» of the Ministry of Education, Life Long Learning and Religious Affairs. For the academic years 2010-11 and 2011-12 our Faculty has been awarded funding to extend and further establish and develop teaching practice course. For the duration of the Programme 253 students will be appointed in various primary and secondary schools acting as paid student teachers for two months. The training Programme for mentors will continue with seminars and the development of mentor training packs in electronic form, for distance and self-access learning/ training. A website for the Programme will be designed in order to facilitate communication between student teachers, mentor teachers and the university. The site will also act as a training platform for both student teachers and their mentors offering articles, materials and tasks for self-assessment and development. The effectiveness and impact of the teaching practice course will be monitored through questionnaires to student teachers and their mentors. At the end of the Programme, a conference for mentors will be organized in order to publicize the effectiveness of the Programme and promote the contribution and role of the mentor teacher in the professional development of student teachers. The scientific Coordinator of this Programme is Assistant Professor E. Karavas, Dr M. Drossou is responsible for the coordination of the Programme while Ms M. Refanidou is the Programme secretary.

The Programme "Student practice teaching of the University of Athens" is jointly funded by the European Union and national funds and is part of the Operational Programme «Education and Life Long Learning» of the Ministry of Education, Life Long Learning and Religious Affairs.