Struggling for the Center: Teacher-Centered vs. Learner-Centered Practices in Palestinian Higher Education

  • Category: Education
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Alongside the struggle for an independent Palestine, not to mention the internal power struggles between the rival Fatah and Hamas movements, another struggle — largely absent from local news headlines and talk on the streets — is unfolding in classrooms in Palestinian higher education. Faculty are pushing back against the hegemony of teacher-centered instruction and embracing, in principle if not in practice, the global movement toward learner-centered pedagogy. This is a radical departure from the legacy of teacher-centered methods inherited from late 19th and 20th century European models of education in the service of state formation, modernization, and the development of human capital.

Read more: Struggling for the Center: Teacher-Centered vs. Learner-Centered Practices in Palestinian Higher...

On The Pre-Freshman American Model

  • Category: Education
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Pre-Freshman English is an Intensive English Language Program that focuses on teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) in the United States.  The program is at the heart of almost all US academic institutions and targets non-native speakers of English who intend to pursue their education in the United States.  The American Association of Intensive English Programs (AAIEP) [] has around 300 members who offer intensive English language programs across the USA. The typical names are: ELS, IELP, ELC, or ESL.  AAIEP requires programs to have their own location, marketing materials, and structure.  Furthermore, such programs are “independent from any other office or site for administrative, curricular, and/or fiscal purposes.”  Effective December 14, 2010, President Obama signed into law "an Act to require the accreditation of English language training programs, and for other purposes."  The law became effective as of June 12, 2011, thus reinforcing the independent nature of these programs.

IELPs in the US vary in structure but a typical program has the following common traits:
1.     Depending on the educational system, there are between 6 and 12 levels of pre-Freshman English that can be completed within one academic year.  The levels span typically over 8 to12 week periods.  A level coverage is typically around 4 hours per day for at least 20 hours per week;
2.     The cost per program is between $1,800-$2,200 per 8-week levels;
3.     Students who apply to the University take a placement exam and are consequently placed in the corresponding level;
4.     Students who undergo intensive English education are not considered as regular students.  In almost all cases, the intensive English Unit is an independent unit.  In some cases and under some conditions, students may be allowed to take regular courses as non-degree students.  Such courses may be transferred to the regular program once the students are accepted;
5.     Students undergo at least 20 hours per week of intensive English classes that include: listening and speaking, grammar, and reading and writing. Students are allocated a minimum of hours per week of listening and comprehension in a language lab;
8.     Although not always explicitly stated, the intensive English programs in the US generally prepare students to successfully pass the TOEFL as well as the SAT verbal part.

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