RETHINKING ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHER IN-SERVICE TRAINING FOR INCLUSIVE EDUCATION PRACTICES
Improving the accessibility to English language education for visually impaired students is one of the recent trends and perspectives in teaching English as a second or foreign language. However, research indicates that national English language teaching programs and infrastructures are not fully adapted to the specific needs of these students. Concerning teaching approaches in the classrooms that integrate visually impaired students, limited possibilities for teachers to adapt them to students’ needs due to lack of awareness of what visual impairment is and implies, as well as lack of adapted teaching materials, techniques and technologies, have been reported. Also, in-service teacher training programs for reinforcing the competencies of language educators in inclusive English language classroom settings, and introducing them to the innovative methods, tools and theories in inclusive language education and pedagogy are insubstantial. Moreover, in this area, the research in English language teachers’ response to professional development on inclusive education practices is very limited, and, thus, cannot benefit everybody. This paper explores the development and implementation of a hybrid and flexible English language teacher in-service training course offered at the Centre for Preparatory Studies at Sultan Qaboos University that put on top practical tips and solutions alongside with the exploration of challenges and chances of using technology to adapt teaching methods currently in place to be more inclusive and tailored to students’ needs. It also examines the perspectives of the course participants towards their preparation for inclusive language education practices. Teacher-perceived experiences, challenges, benefits and values are in focus.